"My mission as an artist is to make connections: Connections to an audience, connections with my colleagues, and most importantly connections to characters and ways of life other than my own."
Known for her floating high notes and rich middle range, Hillary Esqueda is a versatile lyric soprano emerging in the opera scene. Described as a “powerful” and “solid” performer, Ms. Esqueda strives to incorporate her skills from dance, movement and musical theater to present realistic opera characterizations.
Hillary has performed primarily in the Chicago and NY/NJ areas. Roles performed include: Mimi (La Bohème), Drusilla (L'incoronazione di Poppea), Marie (La Fille du Régiment), Sophie (Werther), Marzelline (Fidelio), and First Lady (Magic Flute). She also had the fortune to perform as a young artist and apprentice with Hubbard Hall Opera Theater, Opera Oggi, and Underworld Productions. In summer 2016 she traveled to Los Angeles for OperaWorks’ Advanced Artist Program where she explored her artistry in a four-week intensive training program culminating in two performances of an improv opera, Trump'd: Making Opera Great Again. In 2022 Hillary will be traveling to Cancun, Mexico as a Young Artist with Opera Maya.
Her passion for modern and contemporary opera led her to create three roles for composer Francis Lynch in the world premieres of Voices at Domrémy (Yvonne), For Those in Peril (Gwendolyn) and Joseph’s Gift (Mary). Aaron Hunt of Chicago Theatre Review described her performance of Mary as "appropriately serene...with a flowing and pitch-perfect voice that sets the bar high for any soprano undertaking this role in the future." Hillary also appeared in the Midwest premiere of With Blood, With Ink as legendary poet, scholar and nun Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz in Third Eye Theater Ensemble’s intimate store-front production. Hillary joined the company again in 2019 for their production of Darkling (Soprano Anna) by Stefan Weisman and Anna Rabinowitz.
In addition to opera performance she has sung as a chorus member with the Chicago Sinfonietta in their MLK tribute concert, with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezín, and with the Roosevelt Alumni Chorus performing Daphnis et Chloe and Mahler Symphony No. 3. With the Alumni Chorus she also lent her voice to both the virtual and live premiere of Carlos Jaquez Gonzlez's The Immigrant Mass.
In 2020, Hillary was awarded Second Place in The American Prize (Women in Opera Division), and recently placed Second in the Da Capo International Music Competitions (Classical Voice 18+) and won a contract to work with Piccola Opera in their Opera Idol Competition.
During the difficult 2020/21 season Hillary continued to make art. She participated in three virtual choir productions, performed in a fund-raising concert, dipped her toe into Polish repertoire in a CAIC masterclass led by Michael Pecak, modeled for a mask photoshoot, and created a series of at home performances on YouTube.
Hillary received her Bachelor’s degree in Music from NYU’s Steinhardt School and her Master’s from Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University. Hillary currently lives in Chicago and studies with Countertenor Mark Crayton.
PC: Clint Funk
PC: Clint Funk
"[Ms. Esqueda] was appropriately serene...with a flowing and pitch-perfect voice that sets the bar high for any soprano undertaking this role in the future."
Chicago Theater Review
Joseph's Gift (Mary)
EChO Concert: The Composer at 70
Hillary was excited to join Evanston Chamber Opera once more in a special concert celebrating composer Francis Lynch. She had the honor of creating yet another of his soprano roles with Yvonne in his one-act opera Voices at Domrémy . With text directly from the play by Hortense Flexner, the duo-drama listens to the intense conversation between two strangers and their differing views of Joan of Arc.
The Immigrant Mass
As a part of Roosevelt's Alumni Chorus, Hillary lent her voice to the virtual and live premieres of Carlos Jaquez Gonzalez's The Immigrant Mass, a multimedia performance using the traditional text and musical structure of a mass in juxtaposition to images and real-life accounts of immigrants at the border.