Born in Florida, USA, the soprano received her Bachelors and Masters Degree in Voice from the Florida State University in the USA She then taught voice one year at the University of Kansas, one year at the Miami Northwestern Senior High School in Florida, and three years at the Wichita State University in Kansas. She had planned to major in Music Education, but being told by many people that she had the talent to sing opera, she was sent to New York to study for two years by anonymous donors. Afterwards, she then decided to come to Europe to first do some competitions. After having won the Melodie Francaise prize in Paris,
France, and Barcelona, Spain, she was approached by Dr. Paul ‘Schilhawsky about giving an all French recital in the Mozarteum in Salzburg which she sang in 1982. She enrolled in the Mozarteum in 1984, where she immersed herself in the German Opera and Song repertoire under Prof.Paul Schilhawsky and the well renowned opera singer Wilma Lipp. She received her Opera diploma with honors in 1986. Immediately after having finished, she made her European opera debut at the Salzburg Festival in the world premiere of THE BLACK MASK by Penderecki, with Harry Kupfer as Stage Director.” To have started my career working with Harry Kupfer was the best education in stage practice that I could ever receive.” She later sang this role at the Santa Fe Opera Festival in New Mexico, and at the Theater du Chatelet in Paris, France.
After having sung the role of VENUS in Tannhäuser at the Dresden Semper opera, which she has also sung at the Mannheim National theater, the Kassel State Theater, the Kiel Theater, the Heidelberg Theater, the Magdeburg Theater, and at the Bern Theater, and after singing the role of SALOME at the Darmstadt State Theater, the artist sang and portrayed major roles in her voice category at the Kassel State Theater. Among the 90 roles that she performed during her engagement there from 1989-2020, she sang the DONNA ELVIRA, ELSA and ORTRUD in Lohengrin (also in Chemnitz), TOSCA, SUOR ANGELICA, AMELIA, SALOME and HERODIAS, BRANGÄNE (Tristan and Isolde ), MARIE in Wozzeck, ARIADNE, CHRYSOTHEMIS and KLYTÄMNESTRA in Elektra, FELDMARSCHALLIN (Der Rosenkavalier), KATERINA ISMAILOWA (Lady Macbeth of Mzensk), MANON LESCAUT, SANTUZZA (Cavalleria rusticana), LEONORA in La forza del Destino, LADY MACBETH in Macbeth (also in Würzburg), GONERIL in Lear (Reimann), MRS: GROSE in Turn of the Screw (Britten), the OLD BURYJA in Jenufa, and ESTHER in Harley (Rushton). In Kassel and Kaiserslautern she embodied FILIPJEWNA in Eugene Onegin, as well as GERTRUDE in Hansel and Gretel, a role she has sung over 100 times at various opera houses.
At the opera houses in Essen, Hannover and Braunschweig she appeared as LEONORA (Il Trovatore), AMELIA (Un ballo in maschera), TITUBA (Salem Trials) and MRS. GROSE(Turn of the Screw). She also sang Amelia in Ballo at the opera houses in Osnabrück and Linz. THE LADY in Hindemith’s Cardillac, was performed at the Berlin Comic Opera.
She embodied the role of EBOLI at the theaters in Wiesbaden, Pforzheim, Mannheim and Kassel. She also took on the role of ABIGAILLE (Nabucco) in Kassel as well as in Halle, Pforzheim, and at the Bregenz and Heidenheim Festivals. She sang the title role in CARMEN at the opera houses Kassel State Theater, Slovenian National Theater Ljubljana, Theater Municipal de Luxembourg and Saarbrücken State Theater. As a guest at the Wiesbaden State Theater and Mainz State Theater, she also took on the role of Tosca and the title role of Ariadne auf Naxos in Bremen. At the opera houses Kassel and Halle, Lona Culmer-Schellbach could be heard in the role of MARINA (Boris Godunow) and in the role of KUNDRY (Parsifal) in Kassel and Kiel. At the Bonn Opera and the Magdeburg Theater, she sang again the title role of Lady Macbeth of Mtzensk and portrayed the role of Santuzza (Cavalleria rusticana ) at the opera Frankfurt, as well as the AIDA at the Heidenheim Summer Festival.
In addition to her many opera roles, Ms. Culmer-Schellbach has also appeared in four musical productions at the Kassel State Theater. They were:
BLOODY MARY in "South Pacific" (in which she was awarded the Audience Award), NELLIE in "Jekyll and Hyde", The MOTHER ABBESS in "Sound of Music", and HATTIE in "Kiss me, Kate."
Ms. Culmer-Schellbach has also embodied characters in a number of world premiere pieces. Three operas - "PATMOS "by von Schweinitz "," HARLEY "by Edward Rushton,
and “THE PARADISE or TO EDEN” by Nana Forte (Vorarlberger Landestheater Bregenz.)
She appeared in two World premiere plays in Kassel - "ODEM" and "I AM PROVIDENCE", both by writer and stage director Wilke Weermann.
Her most recent project was a short film entitled
"FIRST WORK, THEN PLAY" - written and directed by Brenda Lien.
The piece is still in the "editing" phase.
In addition to concerts with orchestras such as the Wichita Symphony, Kansas City Philharmonic, the Mozarteum Orchestra Salzburg, the Philharmonic Orchestra Mainz, the Orchester National de France and appearances on television in the USA, Lona Culmer-Schellbach is also very successful as a Recital singer and voice teacher / coach.