Skip to main content

Gayle Shay

Associate Professor of Voice; Director of Vanderbilt Opera Theatre; Chair of the Voice Department

Gayle Shay is associate professor of voice and director of Vanderbilt Opera Theatre at the Blair School. She has performed throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and China in theatre, musical theater, opera and oratorio, including productions with the Washington (D.C.) Opera, the Maryland Handel Festival, the Des Moines Metro Opera Guild, OpenStage Theater (Fort Collins, Colo.), Colorado Lyric Theater, Nautilus New Music Theatre Company (Minneapolis), Waterfront Theatre (Vancouver, B.C.). Professional stage direction and production credits include those with Wolf Trap Opera, Maryland Opera Studio, Opera/Omaha, Des Moines Drama Workshop, Dorian Opera Theatre, Colorado Children's Opera Theatre, New England Light Opera, Icicle Creek Young Artist Program, Nashville Opera, Variations Musical Theatre (Des Moines, Iowa), Tun Wang People’s Theatre (Guangzhou, China), and Prague Summer Nights Music Festival (Prague, Czech Republic).

Shay has appeared regularly on the Songfest Art Song Concert Series in Malibu, Calif., working with composers John Harbison and Jake Heggie, and pianists Martin Katz and Graham Johnson, and she has been a member of the International Voice Workshop at the Canadian Banff Centre for the Arts under the direction of Richard Armstrong. She has also been a featured performer at the Vancouver International Song Institute (VISI) and served as the co-director of VISI’s innovative SONGFIRE Art Song Theatre Apprenticeship. Additionally, Dr. Shay has written, produced, and directed five original, fully-scripted and staged Art Song Theatre works (That Way Goes the Game, Seaworthy, Once, Babylon, Can You Hear Me?) three of which were premiered at VISI and have had subsequent productions in Nashville, Tenn., and Indianapolis, Ind.

Shay joined the faculty of the Prague Summer Nights Young Artists Music Festival in 2018, teaching acting and serving as stage director. The Festival’s Mozart operas are produced in the historic Estates Theatre in Prague, the only theater still standing in which Mozart worked.

A passionate advocate for arts for social change, Shay has also developed curriculum at Vanderbilt University to train young artists in community engagement. Her advanced community engagement class has collaborated with various Nashville partners, including the residents of the Mary Parrish Center for survivors of domestic abuse. The result of this collaboration was a music theater piece titled Unapologetically ME, with a script derived from interviews with the MPC residents.

Shay makes her home in Nashville and is human to two brown dogs and wife to one husband.


Vanderbilt Opera Theatre



Instruction in

Applied Voice, Opera Theatre and Lyric Theatre Workshop