After apprenticeships at Ravinia and Aldeburgh, and appearances with the New-York Collegium and at the Boston Early Music Festival, Miss Yates made her Italian singing debut as Violetta in a Franco Zeffirelli/Plácido Domingo production of La traviata (Teatro Verdi di Busseto), and was immediately engaged by Gian Carlo Menotti for Spoleto (Monica in The Medium, under his direction) and Francesco Maria Colombo for the Orchestra Verdi di Milano. Praised by the New York Times for her “emotional dimension,” she was chosen by Tom Cipullo as Older Alyce in the Center for Contemporary Opera production of his Glory Denied. She appeared as Nedda in Pagliacci at Sarasota Opera and as Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia with the Opera Company of North Carolina. Critics called her Gilda “perfect” (Piedmont Opera) her Beatrice di Tenda “dazzling” (Fletcher Institute), and her Fiordiligi “deliciously feminine” (Britten-Pears). And for her nine outrageous “roles” in Dicapo Opera Theatre’s “Opera Senza Rancor” she was hailed as “the funniest thing since Madeline Kahn.”
She now serves as Italian coach to such singers as Angela Meade, Jennifer Rowley, Michael Spyres, Lawrence Brownlee, and Tamara Mumford. Through twenty years of playing and coaching for Bel Canto at Caramoor (now Teatro Nuovo) with Will Crutchfield, she has emerged as a cogent and lyrical translator, lecturer, and teacher of Italian grammar and poetry. 2014 saw her Rossini Opera Festival debut as onstage fortepianist in Mario Martone’s staging of Aureliano in Palmira (DVD on ArtHaus Musik), where she was called “the true actress of the production.” In 2018 she made her conducting debut as maestro al cembalo at Seattle Opera with the “extremely inventive” O+E (Gluck and Calzabigi’s 1762 Orfeo), in an “elegantly poetic” English version she created for that production.
Yates holds a Master of Music in vocal performance from the Manhattan School of Music, where she was also a founding member of the coaching program; and a Bachelor of Arts in Piano Performance and English Literature from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she was a Morehead Scholar. She was a member of the inaugural class of the Fletcher Opera Institute at the North Carolina School of the Arts. She has completed coursework at Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry, the Università per Stranieri di Perugia, and L’Abri Fellowship in Huémoz, Switzerland. She serves as production dramaturg, titlist, and coach for the New York City Opera; Lecturer in Opera at UCLA; Italian instructor for dell’Arte Opera Ensemble; and panelist on the beloved Toll Brothers Metropolitan Opera Radio Quiz.