On the opera stage, Cherry Duke has performed the title roles in Carmen, Hansel and Gretel, and L’italiana in Algeri, as well as critically-acclaimed performances of the Captain in Dog Days, Nerone in The Coronation of Poppea and Jo March in Little Women. She has performed Siébel in Faust and Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro with Winter Opera Saint Louis; the Third Lady in The Magic Flute with El Paso Opera, Opera Tampa, and Prism Opera; and Isabella in L’italiana in Algeri with Opera Company of Middlebury. In 2015 she repeated her world premiere role of the Captain in Dog Days with Fort Worth Opera and Los Angeles Opera and in 2016 performed it with New York City’s Prototype Festival. She is featured on the original cast album, released in 2016. Internationally, Duke sang the role of Suzuki in Madama Butterfly in Lima, Peru; Lady Olive in Dellaira’s The Secret Agent in Avignon, France, and Szeged, Hungary; and covered Suzuki and Jo March in NYCO’s 2005 tour of Japan. Duke was a principal artist with New York City Opera from 1999 until 2010.
Since 2016, Cherry Duke has been a regular guest artist with El Paso Opera. With EPO, she performed the role of Tisbe in Garnett Bruce’s old-school Hollywood re-telling of La Cenerentola; Hansel in Hansel and Gretel in an active train station; Third Lady in The Magic Flute in a Masonic temple; and Julia Child in the mono-opera Bon Appétit, filmed and broadcast in early 2021 alongside an interview between Cherry Duke and Child (played by Duke).
Duke’s new music appearances are varied and numerous. The premiere and subsequent tours of Little and Vavrek’s 2012 opera Dog Days led to the original cast album, released in 2016. With the Center for Contemporary Opera, she performed in the New York and European premieres of Dellaria’s The Secret Agent, in New York, France, and Hungary. Duke created the role of Sally Rogers in Paul Salerni’s The Life and Love of Joe Coogan, based on an episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show in 2010. Duke also workshopped works by Matt Aucoin (Crossing), Gerald Cohen (Steal A Pencil for Me), and Diedre Murray (Patient Zero).
Cherry Duke has performed frequently in cross-over and music-theater works, including scenes from Scott Davenport Richards’ jazz opera Charlie Crosses the Nation; Don Davis’s salsa-inspired Rio de Sangre; and Gordon Beeferman’s post-modern Ratland, all with New York City Opera’s VOX Festival of New Works. At Bard’s SummerScape Festival and Joe’s Pub she was a featured singer-actor in Carl Hancock Rux and Diedre Murray’s ”cabaret opera,” The Blackamoor Angel. Under the direction of MacArthur Fellowship winner Yuval Sharon, Duke played a singer in a theatrical mashup, Celebrate Good Times: Macbeth. She portrayed Mrs. Segstrom in Indiana Repertory Theatre’s A Little Night Music, alongside opera and jazz legend Sylvia McNair. In 2018, she was the headliner for “Amor,” a cabaret/recital at the Philanthropy Theater in El Paso. In 2019, Cherry portrayed Dolly Levi to rave reviews in UTEP Dinner Theatre’s landmark production of Hello, Dolly!
Cherry Duke has performed at major venues such as Carnegie Hall and Avery Fisher Hall. As an orchestral concert soloist, She was a featured soloist in such repertoire as Bach’s B-Minor Mass, St. John and St. Matthew Passions and Weihnachts-Oratorium; Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Mass in C and Choral Fantasy; Duruflé’s Requiem; Falla’s El Amor Brujo; Handel’s Messiah, several Haydn masses; Mendelssohn’s Elijah; Mozart’s Vesperes Solennes, and Grand Mass in C; Rossini’s Stabat Mater; Saint-Saëns’ Christmas Oratorio; Vaughan-Williams’ Hodie and Magnificat; and Respighi’s Lauda per la Nativitá del Signore. She debuted in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 under the baton of Gerard Schwarz with Symphoria in Syracuse, New York, and reprised this role in 2016 with the El Paso Symphony Orchestra. In the fall of 2020, during the pandemic, Duke performed the vocal solo in Mahler’s Fourth Symphony under the baton of Dr. James Welsch in El Paso.
In addition to oratorio and symphonic appearances, Duke has frequently performed as a soloist in opera concerts with regional orchestras (Missouri Symphony Society, Johnstown Symphony Orchestra), including El Paso Symphony Orchestra’s February 2020 “A Night at the Met” concert featuring Metropolitan Opera tenor Paul Groves. Other special projects have included several presentations of A Spiritual Messiah and guest solo appearances with Roswell Symphony, UTEP Symphony, and others.
As a recitalist, Cherry Duke specializes in works by underrepresented composers. In 2016, Duke debuted her recital of works by female composers (Women’s Work) at Converse College and University of Texas at El Paso and later was invited to perform the recital at the National Association of Teachers of Singing Texoma Regional Conference and Northeastern State University. Her program of French and Latin American Chamber music was featured at UTEP and the Texoma NATS Conference in 2020. She is currently preparing a program featuring works by local, Latin American, and Black composers.
Additionally, Duke has been a guest performer on recitals nationally and locally. She was a recent guest artist at the Town Hall Theater in Middlebury, Vermont, with composer Jorge Martín and tenor Brian Downen on a recital featuring Martín’s compositions.
In addition to her work at UTEP, Cherry has served on the voice faculty of Bay View Music Festival, Innovative Music Camps, and Clear Creek Music Festival. She has given masterclasses at the University of Delaware, Indiana Wesleyan University, Bethany College, El Paso Community College, Converse College, Salisbury University, Northeastern University, and the University of Alabama. Duke is a frequent guest speaker on career-related topics at universities nationwide. She also has created and presented extensive programs on the business of music through her company, YourType Arts Partners.
As director and producer of Opera UTEP, Duke has presented a sold-out dinner theater production of Michael Ching’s Speed Dating Tonight with a live band at Ardovino’s Desert Crossing; Puccini’s Sister Angelica (paired with Act 2 of La bohème); a review of the music of Kurt Weill, paired with scenes and poetry from his literary collaborators; among others. In April 2020, Duke responded to the pandemic by converting the Spring Opera Showcase into a highly successful online event, featuring recorded virtual performances and live narration and commentary from the UTEP students. While others around the country were canceling, Duke was innovating. (Visit Opera UTEP's Facebook and YouTube pages for more.)
As part of her mission of service to her students at UTEP, a Hispanic Serving Institution, Duke is reviving the tradition of zarzuela (loosely translated as Spanish operetta) at UTEP. She has directed many programs of scenes featuring works from the traditional opera repertoire alongside pieces from the vast canon of zarzuela. In April 2022, she will direct a full production of Moreno Torroba’s masterful Luisa Fernanda.
As a teaching artist, Duke toured and performed with The Metropolitan Opera Guild, New York City Opera’s Education Outreach, Connecticut Opera Express, New Orleans MetroPelican Opera, and Virginia Opera’s SPECtrum Resident Artist Program.
A Texas native, Duke graduated summa cum laude from Texas Woman’s University, where she studied with renowned pedagogue, Joan Wall. She received her graduate degree in Opera Performance from The Hartt School at the University of Hartford. She was an apprentice artist at Opera North, Chautauqua Opera, and Glimmerglass Opera. Her early training programs included the Israel Vocal Arts Institute and the Promised Valley Playhouse Summer Opera Workshop. Duke’s other major voice teachers have included Trish McCaffrey, Elaine Bonazzi, David Jones, and Judith Natalucci. Cherry Duke is a member of Sigma Alpha Iota, Opera America, National Opera Association, National Association of Teachers of Singing, the American Guild of Musical Artists, and Actor’s Equity Association.