Mezzo-soprano Stella Doufexis was an unusually versatile figure in her native Germany and beyond, singing comic opera, contemporary music, choral music, and lieder with equal enthusiasm and skill. She remained active almost until her early death in 2015.
Doufexis was born on April 15, 1968, in Frankfurt, Germany. Her father was theater director Stavros Doufexis. Stella got her start singing in pop bands as a student. Her mother heard her sing and urged her to take voice lessons. Teachers confirmed her mother's impressions, and she enrolled at the Hochschule der Künste in Berlin, studying with Ingrid Figur. Doufexis took further courses with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Aribert Reimann, and Anna Reynolds. Her debut came in 1995 at the Stadttheater Heidelberg, in the pants role of Cherubino in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro, where she did so well that she was added to the theater's permanent company. She also made several guest appearances in Spain, Austria, and Belgium as well as Germany in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Doufexis moved to the Komische Oper Berlin in 2005, again becoming part of the company. There she sang not only famous roles in comic opera from Mozart to Richard Strauss but also contemporary music such as the opera Hamlet by Christian Jost, who was her husband. In the 2000s and 2010s, Doufexis increasingly appeared in major opera productions led by top conductors: at the Bavarian State Opera in Munich in new productions of Berlioz's Les Troyens under Zubin Mehta, and Janáček's The Cunning Little Vixen under Jun Märkl, for example.
Doufexis had a large and varied song repertoire in several languages, running from Alessandro Scarlatti to Ravel and Poulenc, and she gave song recitals all over Europe. Her concert appearances included those with such varied ensembles as the Stuttgarter Bach Akademie, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Ensemble InterContemporain (under David Robertson). Doufexis made recordings for many major labels, including Berlin Classics, Harmonia Mundi, and Deutsche Grammophon, issuing a reading of Berlioz's Les nuits d'étee on Berlin Classics in 2013. The following year, she took a faculty position at the Robert Schumann University in Düsseldorf, but she died on December 15, 2015, in Berlin after a long battle with cancer. Recordings she made before her death continued to appear, including one, for Deutsche Grammophon, of parallel settings of the Dichterliebe cycle by Schumann and Jost, and in 2019, a recording of orchestral songs by Joseph Marx.