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Tessa Romano image

Pūkenga Matua/Senior Lecturer and Head of Voice

AB (Princeton University), Certificate in vocal performance (Princeton University), MMus (University of Michigan), DMA (University of Colorado Boulder), Certificate in College Teaching (University of Colorado Boulder).
Joined the staff in 2019.

Tel +64 3 479 8908

Dr Tessa Romano is an internationally renowned mezzo-soprano, and an internationally published academic on vocal pedagogy. Their research aims to bring a critical decolonizing lens to tertiary voice institutions and repertoire.


Performance papers:

MUSI 141 – Vocal Performance 1
MUSI 241 – Vocal Performance 2
MUSI 341 – Vocal Performance 3
MUSI 441 – Vocal Performance 4 (Honours)
MUSI 442 – Repertoire Studies (Vocal Performance)
MMus and DMA in Vocal Performance

Other papers:

MUSI 249/349 – Contemporary Vocal Pedagogy
MUSI 371/471 – Research Methods and Approaches
MUSI 375/475 – Studio Teaching Pedagogy
ENGL 219 – Poetry and Music


  • Olivia Pike, MMus, “The Contextualisation of Technical Demands: A Maturing Lyric Soprano's First Encounter with Verismo and Slavic Repertoire”
  • Rhiannon Cooper, MMus, “Creating a Versatile Voice: An evaluation of the pedagogical techniques required for a singer to work in both a solo and ensemble environment”
  • Scott Bezett, MMus, “A Singer Prepares: An Interdisciplinary Assessment of the Use of Stanislavski's Systems in a Singer's Preparation of Song Cycles”
  • Anna Leese, DMA, “The Collaborative Process: Working with New Zealand Composers to Create Song(s) and Opera Repertoire for the Lyric Soprano Voice”


Dr Tessa Romano has performed with orchestras from across the globe, including the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra, Syracuse Symphony, Hartford Symphony, Sound Symphony, and the American Handel Society. They have held opera fellowships at the Aspen Opera Centre and the University of Colorado New Opera Workshop. Past awards include First Place in the Florida Grieg Voice Competition, Winner of the Art of Art Song Competition, and Winner of the Franco-American Vocal Association's Grand Concours Prize. For an extended bio, please see their artist website:

Research expertise

  • Decolonising Vocal Pedagogy
  • Vocal Pedagogy and Technique
  • Comparative Western Vocal Technique (Operatic, Jazz, Musical Theatre, Pop)
  • Transgender and Gender Queer Voice
  • Hindustani (North Indian) and Carnatic (South Indian) Classical Voice
  • Norwegian Art and Folk Song
  • WWII Jewish Italian Art Song Composers
  • Early Jewish Italian Music History
  • Italian Language and Literature

Research output selections

  1. She Sings: Songs of Truth, Hope & Joy” with the Octagon Ensemble in March of 2021. The Octagon Ensemble is Dunedin's premiere small vocal ensemble, which Dr Tessa Romano founded with John Buchanan in 2020. This particular programme featured exclusively female-identifying singers performing works exclusively by female-identifying composers. One such work included Dame Gillian Whitehead's “Almost an Island” sung by Tessa Romano with Sharon McLennan on piano.
  2. The premiere of The Turning Wheel composed for Tessa Romano by Aotearoa NZ composer Jeremy Woodside to text by Ruth Dallas.
  3. Deux stèles orientées by Jacques Ibert performed with flutist Elisa Muzzillo.
  4. Mirabai Songs by John Harbison organized and performed at the University of Colorado Boulder in 2018.
  5. Je te veux” by Erik Satie performed in concert at the Aspen Music Festival in 2016.


  • 2018: University of Colorado Boulder Certificate of Excellence for outstanding performance and lasting contribution as a Lead Teaching Assistant
  • 2017: University of Colorado Boulder Best Should Teach Silver Award
  • 2017: University of Colorado Boulder Excellence in Graduate Teacher Leadership
  • 2016: University of Colorado Boulder Best Should Teach Silver Award
  • 2016: University of Colorado Boulder NORIS Graduate Student Award
  • 2016: University of Colorado Boulder Louis & Harold Price Foundation Scholarship
  • 2016: Mu Phi Epsilon Music Fraternity Sarah Eikenberry Scholarship for a mezzo-soprano excelling in graduate work
  • 2016: Mu Phi Epsilon Excellence in Performance
  • 2016: Great Composers Competition Art of the Art Song Winner
  • 2015: Civic Morning Musicals Young Artist Competition Finalist
  • 2015: Edvard Grieg Society of America, Inc. Florida Grieg Competition Voice Division Winner
  • 2015: Fulbright Performing Arts Scholarship Finalist
  • 2014: Franco-American Vocal Academy Grand Concours Prize Winner
  • 2013: Princeton University Isidore and Helen Sacks Memorial Prize for excellence in music performance

Doctoral dissertation

Romano, T (2018). The Singing Voice During the First Two Years of Testosterone Therapy: Working with the Trans or Gender Queer Voice. University of Colorado, Voice and Opera Graduate Theses & Dissertations

Conference Contributions

  1. Romano, Tessa M (panel member), 'Obtaining a Tenure-Track Academic Position.' Spring Workshop Series, Center for Teaching & Learning, University of Colorado Boulder, February 16, 2021.
  2. Romano, Tessa M (poster presentation), 'The Variegated Effects of Testosterone Therapy on the Voice of Singers Assigned Female at Birth & Differentiation by Type of Administration.' The Fall Voice Conference, Virtual, October 23, 2020.
  3. Romano, Tessa M (featured presenter), 'Testosterone Therapy and the Voice: Working with Transgender Singers During the First Two Years of Testosterone Therapy.' New Zealand Association of Teachers of Singing Virtual Workshop Series, May 10, 2019.
  4. Romano, Tessa M (featured presenter), 'Including Trans* Folx: Opera as a Precedence for Acceptance.' NZ Musicology Conference, University of Auckland, December 1, 2019.
  5. Romano, Tessa M, 'Better Serving Our Trans* Students: A Look at Gender and the Voice.' International Association of Music Libraries, Archives and Document Centres New Zealand National Conference, University of Otago, November 2019.
  6. Romano, Tessa M, 'Vocal Health for the University Singer.' Princeton University Voice Day, Princeton University, April 2019.
  7. Romano, Tessa M, 'Graduate School and Mental Health.' Graduate Teacher Program Friday Forum Series, University of Colorado Boulder, April 2018.
  8. Romano, Tessa M and Bullington, S, 'Gender and the Voice.' University of Colorado Voice Department Friday Speaker Series, April 2018.
  9. Romano, Tessa M, 'The Effects of Testosterone Therapy on the Voice.' TRANSforming Gender Conference, University of Colorado Boulder, March 2018.
  10. Romano, Tessa M 'Gender and the Voice.' Graduate Teacher Program Spring Conference Ignite Session, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, February 2018.
  11. Romano, Tessa M, 'Teaching and Vocal Health.' Graduate Teacher Program Music-Specific Lecture Series, University of Colorado Boulder, February 2017.
  12. Romano, Tessa M (panel member), 'Evaluating Creative Work.' Graduate Teacher Program Fall Intensive, University of Colorado Boulder, September 2016 and 2017.


Romano, T. (artistic director, alto) (2022, 8 October). Touches of Sweet Harmony, a celebration of the 150th birthday of Ralph Vaughan Williams, 1872-1958, with the Octagon Ensemble, the Dunedin Youth Orchestra Chamber Group, and St Kilda Brass, St Paul's Cathedral, Dunedin, New Zealand. [Performance]. Performance

Romano, T. (mezzo-soprano), & Dennis, T. (piano) (2022, 21 September). Music Programme Showcase: Songs of the Rainbow: Music and Trans*Identity, Marama Hall, Dunedin, New Zealand. [Performance]. Performance

Manghi, L. (flute), Romano, T. (voice), & McGrath, T. (piano) (2022, 7 September). Music Programme Showcase: La Flute Invisible, music for flute, voice, and piano, Marama Hall, Dunedin, New Zealand. [Performance]. Performance

Romano, T. (text, mezzo soprano) (2022, 12-13 June). Place Them on the Altar, works by Silen Wellington, with Barbie Noyes and the Playground Ensemble and including the world premier of Place Them on the Altar, Lory Student Center Theater and the Dairy Arts Center, Fort Collins, CO and Boulder, CO. [Performance]. Performance

Romano, T. (2022). Types of testosterone therapy and their effects on the voices of transgender singes. Journal of Singing, 78(3), 327-336. doi: 10.53830/GFWW5031 Journal - Research Article

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