From an early age, Maria Knapik established an international career with her captivating stage presence and rich, full, beautiful voice. She has sung in opera houses and concert halls throughout North America and Europe. Her broad and varied repertoire includes both major operatic roles and oratorio.
A gifted interpreter of Puccini, she has sung the title roles of Tosca, Manon Lescaut and Suor Angelica, as well as Liu (Turandot) with New York Grand Opera. She is equally adept with Verdi, singing the demanding title roles of the early Verdi operas Alzira and Giovanna d’Arco at Carnegie Hall, the role of Elena in I Vespri Siciliani in Toronto and Alice Ford (Falstaff) with the State Opera in Ukraine in its touring performances in Germany and Switzerland. Her Mozart roles include Donna Anna (Don Giovanni) with Opera Lyra at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, and Fiordiligi (Cosi fan Tutte) in Bulgaria. She has also sung Mimì in both Leoncavallo’s and Puccini’s La bohème and Nedda in Pagliacci. Naturally, Maria is very much at home with Polish opera and has delivered stellar performances in the title roles of Hanna in The Haunted Manor with the Greater Buffalo Opera Company, Hrabina (The Countess) and Halka, at the National Theatre in Warsaw and with Sarasota Opera in Florida. Halka, regarded as Poland’s national opera, represents one of the highlights of Maria’s career. Sarasota Opera’s production, the first for half a century in the United States. drew wide attention in the national press and Maria’s performance was highly acclaimed.
Maria is also in great demand as a soloist for concerts, oratorios and sacred music. The list of works she has performed is impressive in its scope and variety, including: Gorecki’s Symphony of sorrowful songs with the Ottawa Symphony (National Arts Centre) and in Carnegie Hall; Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in Carnegie Hall and with the Krakow Philharmonic in Poland ; Poulenc’s Gloria at The Kennedy Center with the Grammy awarded Washington Chorus; Strauss’ Four Last Songs with The Winnipeg Symphony; Mendelssohn’s Elijah with the Kingston Symphony; and Handel’s Messiah with the Orchestre Baroque de Montréal. She has sung as soloist in a number of rare and beautiful works including: Théodore Dubois’ St-Rémi Mass (U.S. premiere at Carnegie Hall); his Messe de la Délivrance and oratorio Le paradis perdu; Verdi’s Requiem (National Arts Centre, Ottawa); Mozart’s Requiem; Handel’s Messiah; Orff’s Carmina burana; Pergolesi’s Stabat mater; Stravinsky’s Symphony of psalms; and Glorias by Poulenc, Vivaldi and British composers Rutter and Jenkins with the New World Philharmonic Orchestra.
Maria has been the recipient of numerous prizes and honours. First prizes in three International Vocal Competitions: the Gerda Lissner Foundation International Vocal Competition (New York), the International Chigiana Festival (Siena, Italy); and the Greater Buffalo Opera Company’s International Vocal Competition. And top prizes in the Guelph Spring Festival, and the Montreal National Debut Competition for Young Artists. She was awarded the International Rising Star of Opera Award and The Gold Medal of Honour by The American Institute of Polish Culture. The Government of Poland awarded her the Gold Cross of Merit for her professional achievements and promotion of Polish culture as well as the Gloria Artis Silver Medal for her artistic achievements. She was named as artist in residence by the Altamura Centre for Arts and Culture in New York, and was invited by Licia Albanese and the Puccini Foundation to sing as a special guest at New York’s Lincoln Center. Maria made her debut at the age of three, performing at a summer festival with her family music ensemble “The Eight Knapik Sisters” who were featured in 24 documentaries and movies and gave more than 5000 concerts in Poland and abroad. They were often compared to the Von Trapp family.