Sylvia McNair made her professional concert debut in 1980 with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. Her operatic debut, in 1982, was as Sandrina in Haydn's L'infedeltà delusa with the Mostly Mozart Festival. She appeared regularly at the Vienna State Opera, the Salzburg Festival, Royal Opera House at Covent Garden, the Santa Fe Opera, the San Francisco Opera and at the Metropolitan Opera, and has soloed with many major European and American orchestras.
Since the late 1990s, McNair has changed the focus of her singing career to Broadway and jazz styles. In these genres she has achieved considerable critical acclaim and commercial success.
In 2006, McNair joined the voice faculty of the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, her alma mater. She teaches English diction (IPA), opera workshop, and private lessons.
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