Stephanie DePrez, MM
Bis Gott! I'm an American opera singer and educator living in Vienna, Austria. I grew up in Denver, Colorado.
I received my undergraduate degree from the University of Notre Dame, where I studied Music and Film, Television & Theatre. While there, I was a member of the University of Notre Dame Folk Choir, a liturgical choir that combined the work of making music and prayer. The community I formed in this choir endures today, and is a great influence on how I approach music and performance.
After earning my BA, I moved to the Coachella Valley in California, where I taught Theology and Drama at a Jesuit high school, and conducted the school choir. During my four years teaching, I grew the choir from 8 students to 35 students. I planned and directed a choir tour of sister Jesuit schools in Australia. I ran multiple overnight retreats, leading small groups of students through self reflection and community work. I was invited to lead the school’s Immersion Programs to East Los Angeles and El Salvador, accompanying students and encouraging them to get outside of their comfort zones. During these travels, I experienced first-hand the necessity of facilitating honest discussion about areas in our lives that hold struggle and fear, and how naming those struggles and fears brings about the work of healing.
During this time I was invited to speak at the Notre Dame Vision Conference, run by the McGrath Institute for Church Life. For four weeks in the summer, I gave a keynote lecture on the value of being uncomfortable, using the lives of the Saints as a model.
After four years of teaching, I moved to Los Angeles and worked as an actor and comedian while training to audition for graduate school for opera. I was accepted at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and received multiple scholarships. I performed a lead role in three operas while I was a student, and was the Graduate Commencement Speaker for the Herb Alpert School of Music.
During my time at UCLA, my mother was diagnosed with osteosarcoma. After graduation, I moved home to Denver and joined the faculty at a Cristo-Rey model school for low-income students, where I taught World Religions. Our work encountering the great faith traditions of the world included Buddhist meditation and attending Iftar.
In 2019, I was accepted as an English Native Speaker in the Teaching Assistantship Program of the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research (BMBWF), administered by Fulbright Austria. I moved to Vienna and began work with students at the Pädagogische Hochschule Niederösterreich. I also began to perform English stand-up comedy around Vienna.
When the pandemic began in March of 2020, I returned home to Denver. During the summer, my mother passed away. God wastes nothing: because of the pandemic, I was with my family for her last months. I slept beside her the night before she died.
The combination of grief, sorrow, lost performance opportunities, travel restrictions, and world-wide pain of the past year moved me to develop a practice that could sustain me and help me get out of bed in the morning. Along with a lot of opera singers, I found it very hard to sing after having so many upcoming gigs canceled and watching so many stages go dark. I had to work my sound back into my body.
Soul Singing is a combination of the practices that have been instrumental in my own healing process: mindfulness, grounding, body awareness, deep breathing, accepting my body as it is, sharing in community, and singing. I firmly believe these exercises can help anyone open the heart and center the soul.
Soul Singing is my way of returning the gifts I have received back to the world. We are not built to avoid pain, stress and grief; they are part of the work of living. We are, however, built to live with it, name it, hold it, share it, and release it.
If you would like to learn about my work as a performer, you can visit my website.
If you would like to read my newsletter on life, death, and living abroad, click here.
My parents both grew up near the ocean. Being near water holds a sense of peace for our family. The layout photos used throughout this site are mine.