How Boston Baroque’s soprano Maya Kherani juggles babies and travel as an artist

Boston Baroque’s ‘Don Giovanni’ is in production at The Huntington Theatre through April 28, and soprano Maya Kherani talks about how she discovered opera late.
Boston Baroque — "Rejoice greatly" from Handel's Messiah with soprano Maya Kherani
Boston Baroque — "Rejoice greatly" from Handel's Messiah with soprano Maya Kherani / Boston Baroque

When you think of opera sopranos, the usual path to an opera career includes a lifelong serious study of the art form, including lessons beginning at an early age, followed by conservatory study right out of high school.

For Maya Kherani—currently playing the spitfire role of Zerlina in Boston Baroque’s production of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Don Giovanni—she took a much more unconventional path. Kherani had no intention of becoming an opera singer when she entered her Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering undergraduate program at Princeton University.

“I majored in engineering and sang in the glee club … There's the choirs but there's no performance degree or anything like that [at Princeton]. My choir director basically encouraged me to audition for the opera they were putting on … I'd never sung an aria, I didn't know anything … But I fell in love with it and I then decided to do a minor in music.

“My parents are immigrants from India. I don't think they'd ever seen an opera or heard an opera until they see me on stage … My dad likes classical music and my mom liked the movie Amadeus. We never went to the opera, which is not on our radar. So it was something that I really hadn't experienced until later. Then I got really kind of into it and got really obsessed with it, especially as a college student.”

The experience inspired the Indian American soprano, who continued participating in productions at the school and becoming enamored with opera. It led to the decision that a career in classical music was the new direction for her life. While at Princeton, Kherani ended up minoring in Music Performance, in addition to Materials Science, and Robotics and Intelligent Systems.

The opera bug stayed and she ended up with a Master of Music degree with honors from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and a Professional Certificate from the Boston University Opera Institute.

“I started the Ph. D program, and then dropped out after 10 weeks because I was getting work as a singer and I decided, you know, I actually just want to do this full time. And that was 10 years ago. No regrets anyway, and I just, I loved it.”

Along the way Kherani also got married and is now the proud mother a three-year-old and six-month old (you can read about her performing while pregnant here). She is based in Northern California and has performed in opera productions from coast to coast and international festivals and opera companies such as the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, Opéra national de Montpellier, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, and at Glyndebourne.

“It's very, very difficult. And my husband is my rock for sure. Like he really steps it up when I'm gone and makes it work.

“We sing to [our babies] all day. So my husband is a singer, he's not professional, but he's a singer as well … Every part of their routine has like a different song.”

Still, the extensive travel couldn’t be easy for mother of two, who has also received several performance awards including two Encouragement Awards from the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and 1st Place in Professional Art Song and Aria categories at the San Francisco Bay Area NATS competition.

“The logistics alone are mind bending. And then you know, it's quite expensive since most companies will only reimburse my travel as the artist … So, it's a balance. it's also a practice saying no for me, I have to decline a lot of offers because it’s just not going to work for my family right now. Maybe when they’re older and both in school, that will change. And so for this current season, it's quite challenging.

“And it's not an easy life, but you know, I think it is worth it. I get to do this kind of work. And to do this with these other singers, it's just incredible, so I feel really privileged to do it.”

The Princeton graduate is currently singing with the Boston Baroque ensemble, which performs all their productions on period instruments. Kherani first performed with them in 2021 in the midst of the global pandemic.

“It's great. Being back with [Martin Pearlman], who's the conductor, it's wonderful. And it's nice because in ‘21, we weren't really able to perform alive since we were still kind of in COVID time. We did mostly live stream the production of that Messiah and with a very small in person audience. It was distanced and masked.

“It kind of feels like a family, especially with these baroque ensembles. A lot of the players will play for multiple ensembles, and I kind of make the rounds, and so I know a lot of the players personally and it's always so nice to see everybody.”

Kherani will be returning to the Boston area at the end of the year to perform with the baroque ensemble again, in George Frideric Handel’s glorious Messiah. In fact, she’s developed a distinguished specialty for Handel’s music, with a focus on his great works throughout the year with the American Bach Soloists in July and December, the Portland Baroque Orchestra, and the famed New York Philharmonic in December.

You can see Kherani’s full schedule on her web site,

For information on Boston Baroque’s full season (which is celebrating 50 years!), including Don Giovanni, you can visit their website,, where you can also sign up to live stream many of their performances (a real treat). The Boston Baroque has the distinction of being the oldest baroque ensemble in North America.

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