top of page

B i o g r a p h y

Gifted with a velvety voice and puckish charm, Deborah Karpel shines on stage with an extraordinary repertoire that includes Kurt Weill, Puccini, Appalachian spirituals, torch songs, Mozart, operettas, classic country hits, boleros, root music, blues standards, traditional folk songs, ballads, western swing, honky tonk, early R&B, international classics, liturgical music, original compositions, as well as the jazz standards, popular songs and musical theater show tunes that make up the Great American Songbook. Her performances are funny, bittersweet and transportive. 


Her encyclopedic knowledge of this wide variety of styles and genres is due in part to wildly eclectic family influences as well as singing classical repertoire in the concert series Intercambio Musicale; with the touring company Opera Mobile, which performed throughout the five boroughs of New York; and with the Riverside Opera Ensemble. Also, for ten years Deborah immersed herself in Klezmer culture and was a key part of the revival of the genre, singing with several Klezmer bands including Metropolitan Klezmer, East Side Quartet and Isle of Klezbos. In 2019, Robert Perreti created the role of Etty Hillesum in his original composition “The Thinking Heart Cantata” specifically for Deborah. She is a frequent recitalist at Lincoln Center’s Bruno Walter Auditorium and currently performs in a duo with Ismail Butera. 


As an actor and comedian, Deborah was a founding member of the improvisational company Shock of the Funny, a featured member of the avant garde Circus Amok troupe from 1991-1994, and in the cast of downtown theater legend Jeff Weiss’s long running, Obie award-winning live serial Hot Keys (where she originated and sung the role of Sonny). 


Deborah’s stirring one-woman show, Songs My Mother Never Taught Me, directed by David Drake, combines her interest in Yiddish language and music with her passion for opera. Originally created for the National Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, MA, she has toured this show throughout the east coast and in Germany. Working with director Suzanne Shepherd, Deborah expanded this piece to make The Midwood Miracle, which includes an additional panoply of music genres and unravels family relationships through the music they loved. Currently, Deborah is developing and composing original songs for a new theater work.


Her CDs include Songs My Mother Never Taught Me and La Promessa. She is also the featured vocalist on five Metropolitan Klezmer releases and on the 2006 cast recording of “Blindwitness News” by Ben Yarmolinsky and Charles Bernstein. 

bottom of page