Shannon Gaffney is an NYC based full lyric soprano and actress. Originally from New Fairfield, CT, her first performances included the school talent show and singing the National Anthem at local baseball games. She pursued her BFA in Musical Theatre at Manhattanville College, where she was awarded the Brian Lethbridge Award for Outstanding Vocal Achievement, and won First Prize in the Arlene Kaplan Music Competition. Some of her favorite theatrical roles include Kate Monster in Avenue Q, Rona Lisa Peretti in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Yellow Girl in SHOUT! The Mod Musical, and Kathy in Company.
Shannon is a classically trained vocalist, and has appeared as a soloist for many choral works. Notable performances include Elijah (Hear Ye, Israel!), Carmina Burana (Stetit Puella), Poulenc's Gloria (Domine Deus, Agnus Dei), and selections from Suor Angelica, as Suor Angelica. Most recently, she made her Gilbert and Sullivan debut as Isabel in The Pirates of Penzance with Utopia Opera, which ran both in NYC and in Skytop, PA. She also performed in the chorus of Amore Opera's Un Ballo in Maschera this past spring.
Shannon is a proud member of the Opera Collective , a group that seeks to make opera accessible to the general public. You may spot her singing an aria at Port Authority, Penn Station, or Columbus Circle, among other NYC spots.
As an educator, Shannon served as the Music Director for Theatre Arts Studio in Croton Falls, New York for two years, where she was integral in numerous youth theatre productions. She also served as Co-Music Director of Manhattanville Sound, a collegiate a capella group, and was the founding Vice President of Broadway at Manhattanville, a musical theatre group producing full length musicals and cabarets.
When Shannon is not performing or teaching, you can find her with a good book, as she also holds a BA in Creative Writing. Upon graduation, she was awarded the Robert O'Clair Prize for Poetry and the Sister Margaret Williams Prize for Literary Criticism. She has published poetry, literary criticism, and fiction in Graffiti Literary Magazine.
Shannon Gaffney is a multifaceted vocal artist and educator based in NYC. She will begin her appointment as an Adjunct Instructor of Voice at New York University in Spring 2024.
As an opera singer, musical theatre performer, voice teacher, writer, and theatre practitioner, she has found several avenues to pursue her passion for the arts. Currently, she is a candidate for her Post-Masters Advanced Certificate in Vocal Pedagogy at New York University. She recently earned her Master of Arts in Musical Dramaturgy and Performance, also from NYU, and she holds both her BFA in Musical Theatre and BA in Creative Professional Writing from Manhattanville College.
In May 2023, Shannon wrote, directed, and performed in her original play “When the Fat Lady Sings,” in which she integrated opera, art song, and musical theatre repertoire to emphasize the harmful impact of fatphobia, as well as evolving cultural body standards, for women in the opera and musical theatre industries. The show made its New York premiere at the Gene Frankel Theatre.
As an opera singer, Shannon has been seen onstage with Utopia Opera and Amore Opera. She is a proud member of the Opera Collective of New York City. This past spring, she appeared in the Emphatic Operatics showcase at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music’s Open Stages Festival, where she performed works from Tosca, Don Giovanni, and La Bohéme, to name a few. She has served as a ringer and cantor at Grace Church of White Plains, Church of the Highlands, and Christ the King Yonkers, among many others. As a musical theatre performer, her favorite past roles include Kate Monster in Avenue Q and Rona Peretti in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. In her career as both a performer and teacher, Shannon advocates for vocal technique that transcends genre and bridges the gap between operatic and musical theatre styles.
Shannon made her directorial debut with Zombie Prom, as the Artistic Director of the Gallatin Theatre Troupe. She was also the Artistic Fellow for the J2 Spotlight Musical Theatre Company’s 2022-2023 season off-Broadway, serving as Assistant Director for their productions of Woman of the Year and Sugar. In addition to her directorial work, she curated and moderated post-show talkbacks for Woman of the Year, Sugar, and The Goodbye Girl. As a dramaturg, her other credits include Hopelessly Devoted to You: Songs of Passion and Pining with the Gallatin Graduate Mainstage and The Three R’s: Revolution, Rebellion, and Resilience with the Village Light Opera Group.
Shannon formerly served as a Staff Writer for On Stage Blog, where she wrote pieces addressing racism, transphobia, fatphobia, and other forms of oppression within the musical theatre industry. She was also a proofreader and typesetter for the second edition of Flop Musicals of the Twenty-First Century: How They Happened, When They Happened (And What We’ve Learned) by Stephen Purdy.
In addition to her voice and theatre work, Shannon is pursuing her 200-HR Yoga Teacher Training certification from My Vinyasa Practice. She is committed to fostering a yoga community that welcomes all bodies, all abilities, and all backgrounds. Her practice, “Music in You Yoga,” serves as a safe space for performers and non-performers alike to flow without judgment.
Outside of her professional pursuits, Shannon loves writing fiction and poetry, celebrating Halloween, and ordering a Venti iced coffee unsweetened with light cream and two splenda.
Shannon will begin her appointment as an Adjunct Instructor of Voice at NYU Steinhardt in Spring 2024.
She is also currently a candidate for her Advanced Certificate in Vocal Pedagogy at NYU Steinhardt.
When the Fat Lady Sings
debuted on May 9th at 8pm at the Gene Frankel Theatre.
"When the Fat Lady Sings" tells the tale of a 19th century prima donna who, by some error of time travel, finds herself in the world of 21st century musical theatre. Celebrated as a diva in Europe, she is shocked to find that the art of musical theatre (and the current industry of opera) has not readily embraced women with her body. Using the only way she knows how -- her voice -- she navigates this new terrain, searching for home within her passion for music and within her own body. The show's not over 'til she has found it.
Photo by Mary Felice