Singapore based Japanese-American Akiko Otao is a singer, educator, and the co-founder/artistic director of L’arietta Productions, a chamber opera company that is focused on bringing fresh and relevant small contemporary operas in English.
Akiko is a soprano with a strong interest in contemporary work. She debuted in Singapore as the leading role of Nora in John Sharpley’s world premiere of Fences. Since then, she has played the title role of Kannagi in the new reincarnation where opera meets contemporary dance and physical theatre, also written by Sharpley. She has premiered Chen Zhangyi’s Window Shopping, playing the Woman, and gave life to the Girl role in subsequent revivals with L’arietta Productions. Kopi for One, the last instalment of A Singapore Trilogy by Dr. Chen was commissioned by L'arietta Productions in October 2018 after a 2 year workshop period, where she developed the character of the daughter. It won the Straits Times’ Best of 2018 in the opera category. Her performance in the monodrama Diary of Anne Frank directed by Samantha Scott-Blackhall received Straits Times’ Best of 2015 in the same category. Her other engagements include Alice in Alice in Wonderland, Drusilla in L’incorazione di Poppea, The Soprano in The Four Note Opera, Geraldine in The Hand of Bridge, Hansel in Hansel und Gretel, Musetta in La Boheme, Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro, Polly in The Beggar’s Opera, Dangeville in Adriana Lecouvreur, and Crystal in Little Shop of Horrors. Her musical versatility and comfort in acting and dance continues to bring her an eclectic collection of projects.
On the concert stage, she has been a soloist for Mozart’s Requiem, Missa in C KV257, Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, John Rutter’s Magnificat, Frank Ticheli’s Song of Life and Love, John Sharpley’s Tanglin Tree, Naoyuki Yokota’s Eterunitasu for Soprano, Cello and Flute. Kazuhiko Hattori has written The Time of the Topaz: For Soprano & Guitar, Maila, Maila II and Maila III: Solo for an unaccompanied Soprano especially for Akiko.
Akiko graduated Summa Cum Laude in Music Education with Vocal Emphasis from the Hartt School at the University of Hartford. She was the 3rd Place Winner (no first place awarded) of the 2010 Tokyo Voice Competition, a finalist in the National Classical Music Concert Competition, and the winner of the Japan International League of Artists’ New Artist competition. She is an adjunct voice faculty at SOTA and Lasalle College of the Arts.
Incorporated in 2015 by Soprano Akiko Otao, Tenor Reuben Lai and Theatre Practitioner Jameson Soh, L’arietta Productions produce high quality bite-sized operas in English that are cozy, entertaining, and relevant. Collaborating with award winning artists such as Namiko Chan, Wan Xiang Lee, composer Dr. Chen Zhangyi, and poet, Aaron Lee; Straits Times regards L’arietta’s approach “vital in conveying the message that modern opera could be unstuffy, accessible and even fun.”