Zen Wu is an American dramatic coloratura soprano native to the San Francisco Bay Area. She studied with avant garde baritone Philip Larson at the University of California San Diego and sang two seasons with the San Diego Opera Chorus before making her professional mainstage debut with the Riverside Lyric Opera in 2014.
She is lauded for her interpretations of canon works as well as her fearless championing of 20th century and new operatic repertoire, having received awards from the La Jolla Symphony, the Virginia and Susan Hawk Memorial Scholarship Foundation, the Musical Merit Foundation of San Diego, the University of California Regents, and the National Association of Teachers of Singing while under the tutelage of Enrique Toral.
An acutely deft musician, Ms. Wu is a sought after vocal collaborator in challenging works of the 20th and 21st centuries, including regional premieres of John Adams' A Flowering Tree and Nixon in China, David Lang's Little Match Girl Passion, the vocal works of Ernst Krenek, and the world premier of Brent Michael Davids' The Purchase of Manhattan. Wu is praised for her ability to draw Mozartian phrases from atonal works while maintaining the utmost fidelity to pitch with prodigious accuracy and has claimed prizes in concerto competitions performing Alban Berg's Lulu Suite, as well as excerpts from Corigliano's The Ghosts of Versailles and Adams' Nixon in China. She is a featured soprano soloist in Arvo Pärt's Magnificat on the Ghostlight Chorus's upcoming debut album and will record the vocal chamber music of Max Duykers with Ensemble Ipse in the fall of 2018. Zen also makes her Lincoln Center debut in 2018 with Musica Sacra, singing the music of György Ligeti.
Zen made her East Coast debuts of Mozart's Donna Anna (Don Giovanni), Konstanze (Die Entführung aus dem Serail), and Elettra (Idomeneo) in 2015 and a 2016 season of classic bel canto heroines Amina (La sonnambula) and Lucia (Lucia di Lammermoor) in addition to Lakmé (Lakmé) and Zerbinetta (Ariadne auf Naxos). She made her Italian debut in 2017 as the eponymous tragic heroine in Puccini's Suor Angelica and as the Queen of the Night, the timeless villain of Mozart's The Magic Flute, and she returned to Italy in 2018 to sing Violetta in Verdi's La traviata. Zen sings Juliette in Gounod's Roméo et Juliette this fall.
Ms. Wu is also an accomplished multi-instrumentalist and has performed a wide variety of choral music, art song, and aria programs as a collaborative pianist. She currently resides in New York City, where she studies with Andrea Del Giudice.
Outside of her lifelong commitment to music performance, Zen studies political science at Columbia University and writes extensively on the intersections of human rights, public policy, performance art, race, justice and ethics.
Her favorites outside of the classical genre include Beyoncé, Kendrick Lamar, and all things Jack White.