California State University, Northridge will confer an honorary doctorate of fine arts on international opera star and Northridge alumna Michelle DeYoung during the university’s commencement ceremonies next month.
DeYoung will receive her degree on Tuesday, May 18, during the commencement ceremony for the Mike Curb College of Arts, Media, and Communications.
“We are delighted to honor Michelle DeYoung in this way,” said Cal State Northridge President Jolene Koester. “Ms. DeYoung’s life and achievements serve as examples of the California State University’s aspirations for its diverse student body, and we are proud to say that she is part of the Northridge family.”
DeYoung, the daughter of a Dutch émigré who fled the Netherlands with his family at the outbreak of World War II, was born in Colorado in 1969 and grew up in California. She often spent the summers in the San Fernando Valley, where she came to the attention of the faculty in Northridge’s Music Department. She enrolled at Northridge in 1990 to study voice performance and participate in the university’s acclaimed Opera Program.
Over the next two-and-a-half years, she demonstrated enormous talent, and her professors urged her to compete for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Award in 1992. After winning the local, regional and national first prizes, she was invited to join the Met’s prestigious three-year LindemannYoung Artist Development Program the following year.
In the 18 years since leaving Cal State Northridge, DeYoung has appeared with most of the world’s leading orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Vienna Philharmonic, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, Bayerische Philharmonic Orchestram Berliner Staatskapelle, Sao Paulo Symphony and the Concergebouweokest. She also has appeared in prestigious festivals around the world, including Tanglewood, Aspen, Saito Kinen, Edinburgh, Salzburg and Lucerne.
She has worked with many of the world’s most prestigious conductors, including Daniel Barenboim, Pierre Boulez, James Conlon, Christoph Eschenbach, Esa-Pekka Salonen and Mariss Jansons.
DeYoung has also appeared in many of the world’s finest opera houses, including the Metropolitan Opera, La Scala, Opera National de Paris and the Tokyo Opera. Her many roles include Dido in “Les Troyens,” Eboli in “don Carlos,” Marguerite in “Le Damination de Faust” and the title role in “The Rape of Lucretia.”
This season, she was chosen to perform with Gustavo Dudamel in his Los Angeles debut at the Hollywood Bowl, and she is currently appearing with the Los Angeles Opera in Achim Freyer’s complete “Ring Cycle” as both Fricka and Sieglinde.
DeYoung’s recording of Kindertotenlieder and Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony for SFS Media received the 2004 Grammy Award for Best Classical Album. She won the 2001 Grammy Awards for Best Classical Album and Best Opera Recording for Les Troyens with Sir Colin Davis and the London Symphony Orchestra.
Valuing her ties to Cal State Northridge and her commitment to higher education, DeYoung has remained in contact with Northridge faculty throughout her career. In 2008 she re-enrolled at the university to complete a few remaining courses. She received her bachelor’s degree of music in vocal arts from the university in 2009.