Esther Tonea
Romanian-American soprano Esther Tonea, praised for her “dramatic excellence, flexibility, and beauty of her singing" by Classical Voice America, is an Adler Fellow at San Francisco Opera. She recently premiered the lead role of Diana in Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer's If I Were You with “magnificent singing — an ardent, tonally plush performance” (San Francisco Chronicle).
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Guy Barzilay Artists, Bovina Center, NY

This artist is accepting inquiries via Email.

Guy Barzilay Artists, Bovina Center, NY

This artist is accepting inquiries via Email.

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Esther Tonea

The San Francisco Chronicle has praised Romanian-American soprano Esther Tonea for her “powerful, gleaming tone, effortless precision and expressive immediacy” and for demonstrating the “sublime assurance of an established diva.” A recent graduate of San Francisco Opera’s Adler Program, Ms. Tonea is also a 2022 winner of the Metropolitan Opera Laffont Competition, recipient of the Richard F. Gold Career Grant, and Presser Scholar. This season, she joins Wolf Trap Opera as a Filene Artist, performing the title role of Handel’s Semele, soprano soloist in Orff’s Carmina Burana, and in recital with Daniel Rich and Joseph Li.

Among her engagements this season is her company and role debut as Countess Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro with Portland Opera. While in her Adler tenure at San Francisco Opera, she performed the roles of Sister Antoine in Dialogues des Carmélites and Flower in Dream of the Red Chamber while also covering the roles of Tatyana in Eugene Onegin, Blanche de la Force in Dialogues des Carmélites, Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte, and Marzelline in Fidelio. She was also engaged by San Francisco Opera to sing Giovanna in Ernani, cover Chrisann in The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, and cover Mimì in La bohème, all of which were canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

A frequent collaborator with composer-librettist duo Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer, Tonea premiered the role of Diana in If I Were You with the Merola Opera Program and workshopped Intelligence as Callie Van Lew with Houston Grand Opera. On the concert stage, Tonea has appeared as soprano soloist in Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 and Symphony No. 4, Janáček’s Glagolitic Mass, Haydn’s The Creation and Missa in Angustiis, Mozart’s Requiem in D minor, Coronation Mass, and Exsultate, jubilate, and Saint-Saëns’ Christmas Oratorio.

Ms. Tonea’s efforts to increase accessibility to classical music and opera have led her to appear as a guest artist in elementary school outreach programs across the United States. She also served as a resident artist at Tennessee Wesleyan University where she coached, gave a masterclass, and performed in recital. She has curated many recitals in intimate casual venues, large public spaces, and outdoor settings in collaboration with pianist Ronny Michael Greenberg, Taste of Talent, and Roots of Peace, an organization whose mission is to replace land mines with vineyards in war-torn countries. Her recital work has inspired her to explore her Romanian heritage in song and includes additional collaborations with Frederica von Stade, Richard Bonynge, Martin Katz, Jake Heggie, and Warren Jones. 

Ms. Tonea holds a Master of Music in Voice from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and Bachelor of Music degrees in Vocal Performance and Cello Performance from the University of Georgia. She is managed by Guy Barzilay Artists. To follow her future engagements, visit

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