Research/Areas of Interest: Culture, Cultural Diplomacy, Diplomacy, Public Diplomacy, Music Diplomacy, Arts, Languages, Communications, Entrepreneurship, Social Impact, Indigenous Communities, China


Carla Canales has been praised by Opera Magazine for possessing a voice that "grabs the heartstrings with its dramatic force and musicality." She has won acclaim on leading stages around the world as a performer while also being recognized as an educator, advocate, and entrepreneur. This summer, she joins the faculty at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy of Tufts University, where she will serve as Professor of Practice and lead a program on cultural diplomacy. In addition, Carla is a Social Innovation and Change Initiative Fellow at the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard's Kennedy School. As part of her residency at the University of Denver in fall of 2022, Carla was a guest lecturer at the Korbel School of International Affairs and conducted masterclasses for the Lamont School of Music. In addition, she gave a vocal recital at the Newman Center with pianist Bradley Moore

Carla has served as a U.S. State Department Arts Envoy since 2005. Missions in 2021 include creating new arts programs for U.S. Embassies in Honduras, Peru, Montenegro, and Kazakhstan. In 2022, she continues her work as an Arts Envoy in Indonesia for the Triple Threat Academy, a five month-long program. Carla was a 2021 Advanced Leadership Initiative Fellow at Harvard University, the youngest fellow in the history of the program to date. During her fellowship, she collaborate with Harvard's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs on the a new self-created initiative titled "The Future of Cultural Diplomacy". In addition, in spring of 2022 Carla was an artist-in-residence at Wellesley College. Carla has authored book chapters in two upcoming publications: Manchester University Press, "Soft Power and the Future of U.S. Foreign Policy" (Winter 2022) and Manchester University Press, "United States Cultural Diplomacy after the Cold War," (2023).

Carla has been a member of the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities Turnaround Arts Program, was selected by Foreign Policy Magazine as one of its 100 Leading Global Thinkers and won the Medal of Excellence from the Sphinx Organization, which was presented to her at the Supreme Court by Justice Sotomayor. Carla was also named one of Musical America's 30 Movers and Shapers of 2018. In each case, she was the first opera singer ever to receive the honor. In 2021, Carla became a member of the Recording Academy. Carla was honored as one of twenty selected alumni to receive the University of Michigan Bicentennial Alumni Award.

Carla is the founder of The Canales Project, a non-profit arts and advocacy organization through which she created Hear Her Song, a musical celebration of distinguished female leaders worldwide that commissions new songs written by female composers to honor them. To date she has performed project selections over a dozen times at venues including the National Gallery of Art, The Public Theater and Kennedy Center. The project engages a variety of participants and partners worldwide, including Vital Voices, El Sistema USA, and participants including honorees Hillary Clinton, Sonia Sotomayor, and Malala Yousafzai. The project continues to build a category of commissioned songs, with efforts to reach fifty by 2023.

As a classical singer, Carla has been in demand for her portrayal of Bizet's Carmen, a role she has performed over eighty times in twelve countries. Her performance was praised by Opera News as "a well-practiced, sexy Carmen, [Carla] dominated the show." Other roles in her repertoire include Dalilah in Samson et Dalilah (Sinfonica de Yucatan), Eboli in Don Carlo (Opera Royal de Wallonie), Maddalena in Rigoletto (Opera Royal de Wallonie, Michigan Opera Theater), Giulietta in Les Contes d'Hoffmann (National Centre for the Performing Arts Beijing), Adalgisa in Norma (Portland SummerFest), Fenena in Nabucco (Michigan Opera Theater) and Preziosilla in La Forza del Destino (Opera Royal de Wallonie). As a concert soloist, she has sung Beethoven's Ninth Symph
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