Mezzo-sopranos are often called upon to play men or boys in operas. Cherry Duke has recieved many accolades in such roles, “having mastered the art of masculine swagger.” Her “trouser” or “pants” roles [in German: “hosenrolle”] have included Nero in The Coronation of Poppea, Jason/Giasone in Giasone, Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro, Stephano in Romeo et Juliette and over 250 performances of Hansel in Hansel and Gretel.


Winter Opera of St. Louis, November 2014

“Cherubino (a “breeches role”) is sung by Cherry Duke and she is pure gold. Vocally light and powerful, physically agile, and with great comic sense, Ms. Duke is worth the price of admission.”

—Steve Callahan,

“Cherry Duke played [Cherubino] to the hilt, tossing off her musical lines with a frisky naughtiness and impeccable technique.”

—John Huxhold, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“Cherry Duke is a joy as the amorous if intellectually lightweight Cherubino, especially when ‘hiding’ behind a chair or in a closet to keep out of sight of the Count.”

—Mark Bretz, Ladue News

Cavalli’s GIASONE

Opera Omnia at Le Poisson Rouge, August 2011

“The mezzo-soprano Cherry Duke offered a vivid portrayal of the lustful Jason.”

“Cherry Duke revealed a warm, dark mezzo in the trouser role of Giasone.”

“Mezzos Hai-Ting Chinn and Cherry Duke were sweet and sultry as Medea and Giasone; Duke having mastered the art of masculine swagger.”

“Cherry Duke, often heard in travesti roles, was a comic, befuddled hero who generated convincing chemistry with both female leads.”

Paul Pelkonen, Chamber Musician Today

“Jason was sung by Cherry Duke, whose mezzo has the right amount of dark inflections to lend credibility to her impersonation of the self-absorbed, womanizing Jason. In duets her voice was a perfect foil for the much brighter and ultra-precise soprano of Hai-Ting Chinn as the minx-like Medea.”

“Cherry Duke’s warm, seductive mezzo worked like a charm for Jason’s predicament.”

“Mezzo Cherry Duke gave Jason, which was of course a castrato role originally, the tremendous swagger and bravado of a young general, but at times we saw just how young Jason was.”

“Cherry Duke in the trouser role of Giasone was spot-on.”


Opera Omnia at Le Poisson Rouge, September 2008

“Vocally, the company’s firepower was in the two main mezzo-soprano roles…. Cherry Duke’s Nero was this Poppea’s perfect match. Ms. Duke sang the music of this top-drawer historical creep with a regal bearing, even as he reveled in the destruction of his foes.”

“Cherry Duke was an effective Nero, her voice blending exquisitely with Chinn’s especially in the great closing duet. Duke played Nero’s (troubled) masculinity with conviction and, like Chinn, did not overact Nero’s unpleasant traits; she let the actions, words and music speak for themselves. In their musical assurance and beautifully understated acting they were the finest Nero and Poppea I have encountered in the theatre.”

“Cherry Duke as Nerone and Hai-Ting Chinn as That Girl had a fascinating chemistry rooted in Ms. Duke’s physical take on the role, honestly about the most forget-what-you’re-actually-seeing travesti turn I can think of just now.”

“Cherry Duke made a fine, unusually masculine Nerone… [Poppea’s] final duet with Ms. Duke’s Nerone was the perfect conclusion to waft us into the night in a cloud of erotic reverie: Ah yes, back in 1641, this is why opera caught on.”

“Cherry Duke, as Nero…was very appealing. Ms. Duke[‘s Nero] was also a complex character: weak, vindictive, heroic and a pawn for Poppea.”

“Mezzo Cherry Duke as Nero had a darker, more vibrant sound that created a masculine, hormonally-driven character who only bows to his own desires and sees people as a disposable means to his own ends.”


“Cherry Duke’s Nero was as hot and cold and impetuous and disgustingly regal as we’d expect a young Nero to be.”

“I’ve known Cherry Duke’s work from her lustrous work as Jo in Virginia, in Tokyo, and at the Cabrillo Festival, but still her Nero was surprising: forceful, elegant, startlingly masculine.”

Hansel in Hansel & Gretel

Nevada Opera, Virginia Opera, New Orleans Opera, Maine Grand Opera, Denton Light Opera

“Hansel and Gretel, played respectively by Cherry Duke and Danielle Talamantes, infuse their characters with such playfulness that it’s easy to believe they are children. Their voices also blend gloriously, placing their duets among the show’s highlights.”

“Both [Cherry Duke as Hansel and Danielle Talamantes as Gretel] are excellent with clear, crystalline voices that play to the poignancy of Humperdinck’s writing without forced theatricality or blurred vocal purity.”

“Phoebe [Fennell]’s Gretel and Cherry Duke’s Hansel were well portrayed, vocally and theatrically. Their animated expressions and child-like physicality engaged [the audience].”

“[Cherry Duke’s] reactions are honest and childlike… [she] tackles probably the most difficult role…with ease and energy, promptly quelling any suspension of disbelief problems that can arise as woman plays man.”