Friday, October 29, 2010

Canadian Soprano Lyne Fortin in Master Class

Canadian soprano Lyne Fortin will present a masterclass on Sunday, November 14th from 1pm to 4pm at the Conseil des Arts de Montréal's Studio de musique, 1210 Sherbrooke East (formerly the Montreal Central Library).

The details:

The class starts with a 25 minutes warm-up for everyone. 

Lyne will then work with 5 singers, 30 minutes each. 
Fees: $20 to attend, $50 to participate.
$20 Deposit is necessary to reserve your place.

For more information:

Lyne Fortin is one of Canada's leading sopranos, with appearances with L'Opera de Montreal in the title roles of Agrippina, Thais, La Traviata and Romeo et Juliette, Elvira in Don Giovanni, Mimi in La Boheme, Antonia in Les Contes d'Hoffman, Leila in Les Pecheurs des Perles, Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro, Olga in Fedora, Gilda in Rigoletto,and Micaela in Carmen, Vancouver Opera as Mimi, Leila andMicaela, Opera Saskatchewan, Calgary Opera and Edmonton Opera as Violetta in La Traviata, Opera de Quebec as Donna Anna inDon Giovanni, the Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro, Gilda in Rigoletto, Mimi,Fiordiligi in Cosi fan tutte, Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro, Pamina in Die Zauberflöte, Hanna Glawari in The Merry Widow, and Cio-Cio-San in Madama Butterfly, and Opera Hamilton and Edmonton Opera as Zerlina in Don Giovanni, and Edmonton Opera as Violetta and for all three heroines in Les Contes d'Hoffman, and Opera Hamilton as Violetta, Leila and La Voix Humaine. Last season, she will return to Montreal and to Opera Ontario as Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni. In recent seasons, she made her role debut in the title role of Carmen for the Edmonton Opera, and return to L’Opera de Montreal and Opera de Quebec as “Stella Starlight” in the spectacle Starmania..and Erwartung for Opera de Quebec. This season, she will return to Calgary as Donna Anna.

Robert LePage in Conversation at MacLeans

I had the unbelievable good-luck to understudy director Robert LePage's staging of Schoenberg's one act opera Erwartung when I was an Ensemble member at the Canadian Opera Company back in 2002.  This was a remount of a show that has been seen all over the world and won huge critical and audience success.  Recently LePage unveiled the first part of his ambitious production of Wagner's Ring Cycle for the MET. Check him out in conversation with Brian Johnson in MacLean's magazine this week.

Here is an excerpt that highlights the patience and time needed to really "cook" a great opera project!

Q: How many projects have you got going?
A: There are a lot of things cooking, but they’re long-term projects. People think I have something opening every month, but it’s not true. I work for two weeks on a project, then let it cook for six months while I work on something else. I try to spread [them] over many, many years. The reality of opera forces you to do that. Singers are booked five or six years in advance. I have some projects booked up to 2016 because of that. Then there are big international gatherings and they want you to do an opening ceremony. That’s another five or 10 years. In the meantime, I try to do more humble theatre productions.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Dilemma of the BIG Voice

An article appeared today in the New York Times called "The End of the Great Big American Voice".  A well researched and thorough first-look at the what many have been saying has been happening for years...where have all the big voices gone?

American vocal training has long been bruited as the best in the world and is supposed to be better than ever. Yet there has been no commensurate rise in great new talents. One clear measure of the problem is the system's inability to deal effectively with large voices .... It seems to favor lighter, flexible voices that can perform a wide range of material accurately, rather than the powerful, thrilling, concert-hall-filling voices on which live opera ultimately relies for its survival.

The conservatory system where most students start out is self-perpetuating; many of its instructors went right from graduating to teaching without acquiring any stage experience. Many teachers are therefore less accustomed to the acoustics of a big opera house than to the intimacy of a voice studio, where sheer volume can sound alarming - not at all like the smaller-scaled, lighter voices on contemporary CD's (like Cecilia Bartoli's or, worse, Andrea Bocelli's). Big voices also take longer to mature, and by the time they do, those lucky enough to possess them may be considered too old to get a foot in the door. Many competitions, for example, are open only to those in their early 30's or younger.

If you are a singer, a teacher of singers or the head of a music program you must read the whole article. How can we accommodate the singer that might slip through the cracks of our late 20th C model of vocal training? How can we encourage unique artists that are not just singing technicians?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Coaching...for life!

Last week I received an interesting email from a graduate of the Bachelor of Music Program at University of Toronto.  I thought her creativity for expanding her career as well as building a niche business was inspiring. Here is what she sent me:

How Do You “Communicate To Connect”?

Are you:
  • An individual striving for increased professional and personal success?
  • An emerging professional who is developing your career?
  • A performer who seeks that ultimate “in flow” connection with your audience?
  • A team or ensemble leader who wants to empower your group to reach for extraordinary results?
  • A teacher looking for creative ways to motivate and uplift your students?

Margaret Macmillan is a musician, manager, leadership and performance coach and founder ofListen for Music! Leadership and Career Coaching who uses her creative energy, warmth and passion to build positive connections with others.  She is an Executive Coach recognized by the International Coach Federation.

“As a piano chamber musician and performance coach for many years I learned to connect with others by using intuitive listening on many levels for the expression beneath words, by building teamwork and leadership in ensemble playing and by empowering fellow musicians to overcome performance anxiety and reach for personal success.

Now I include 28 years of experience as a manager and leader in the non-profit environment to offer creative professionals an opportunity to embrace a supportive thinking partnership based on mutual trust, respect and value.  This is a positive communication experience that will support and inspire you to highlight your unique strengths, design personal strategies for success and to reach with confidence towards peak performance opportunities in all aspects of life.

Allow me to join you on your path to building strong, creative and positive connections in your life.  Convenient one-on-one telephone meetings and workshops are available.  Contact me for a complimentary consultation.”

 You can check Margaret out on the web at

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Banff Centre call for auditions

Canada’s Premier Opera Training Program
Program dates: July 3 – August 21, 2011
Application deadline: November 12, 2010
Kelly Robinson — program director
David Agler — music director/conductor
Other faculty to be announced.
Opera as Theatre gives emerging and established opera singers the opportunity to prepare main stage roles with coaching from internationally recognized teachers and pedagogues. Operas are supported by celebrated creative teams, original sets, costumes, props, and are accompanied by the Banff Festival Orchestra. The program also provides numerous ancillary opportunities for perf ormance, including opera in concert, recital, cabaret, and vocal chamber music.
Financial assistance is available.
2011 Productions
Lillian Alling — a new opera by Canada’s foremost opera-creation team — composer John Estacio and librettist John Murrell, co-commissioned by Vancouver Opera and The Banff Centre.
Cosi fan tutte
For more Information please contact:
1.403.762.6180 or 1.800.565.9989

Friday, October 15, 2010

Tenor Blaine Hendsbee: Master Class @ Queen's

Queen's University School of Music is pleased to welcome Dr. Blaine Hendsbee, Associate Professor of Voice at the University of Lethbridge, Alberta. 
Dr. Hendsbee has sung often with virtually every opera company in Canada and has a repertoire of more than 60 roles, which span the entire operatic repertoire. He is as much sought after as an interpreter of 20th century operas as he is for his sharply etched portrayals of the great character tenor roles in the standard operatic literature. 
Recent Canadian performances include the title role in a concert version of The Tales of Hoffmann (Offenbach), the world premier of Erewhon (Applebaum) for Pacific Opera Victoria, The Magic Flute (Mozart) at the National Arts Centre, and The Emperor of Atlantis (Ullmann), which toured the Maritime provinces conducted by the late Maestro Georg Tintner. 
Dr. Hendsbee's video credits include The Making of Mozart's The Abduction from the Seraglio (BRAVO), a film version of Bach's Coffee Cantata entitled More Than a Thousand Kisses (Prometheus Productions), and a new media video production of The Bald Soprano (PBS). His performances are often heard on CBC's Saturday Afternoon at the Opera. He is also a regular guest soloist with symphony orchestras from coast to coast. 
When:  Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Time: 1:30-3:30
This event is free to the Queens Community and the general public.  This master class is part of the mandatory studio class attendance for all undergraduate BMUS singers.
All are welcome!

RIP Dame Joan Sutherland

While the death of Dame Joan Sutherland is not breaking news, I felt I would be remiss if I did not post my tribute to one of the greatest voice of the 20th Century.  Her Queen of the Night was an example of her unique and powerful sound that has yet to be matched.

From the bottom of my soprano heart, I say thank you Dame Joan for your voice!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The 3rd Instalment of COAA

It was recently announced that The Canadian Operatic Arts Academy is accepting applications for its third summer of opera training.  Located at the Don Wright Faculty of Music at the University of Western Ontario, the deadline application is October 28 with auditions in November.  They will be hearing singers in tandem with the Atelier Lyrique - training ground of the Montreal Opera.  They also announced:

We are also delighted to announce a new collaboration with the Istituto Musicale Luigi Boccherini of Lucca, Italy.  This partnership will create an academy in Lucca modelled after COAA beginning in 2011.  More details will be released soon.
Sounds promising!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Job Posting: Voice Instructor at Queens Conservatory in Kingston

This just in from the Queen's Conservatory of Music in Kingston, ON:

Queen’s Conservatory of Music
seeks a dynamic, part-time Voice Instructor
Queen’s Conservatory of Music (QCM) is a non-credit, community music program housed at Queen’s University School of Music. Since its inception in September 2007, QCM has quickly developed into a vibrant centre for anyone who has a passion for music.  QCM offers a wide range of educational opportunities to people from both Queen's and the greater Kingston community.
The ideal VOICE INSTRUCTOR will be comfortable working with students of all ages at a variety of levels.  Flexibility in teaching both the classical and musical theatre repertoire is required.  The QCM teaching year runs September through June, with possibility of extension into the summer months. The successful candidate will start at his/her earliest convenience, and ideally not later January 2011.  
  • Bachelor of Music degree with a major in voice performance or voice pedagogy.  
  • Minimum 3 years teaching experience
Certification in specific pedagogical methods is an asset but is not required
Employment with QCM is contractual, as a casual staff position at Queen’s University.  It is not a faculty appointment, and it does not guarantee employment with Queen’s School of Music. Rate of pay is hourly, and commensurate with experience. Scheduling will be based on room availability, with a preference given to weekday after-school/evenings and Saturdays.
Applicants invited for an interview should be prepared to do a teaching demonstration, and discuss their pedagogical approaches.  Interested applicants should send a cover letter, resume, and two references with contact information to:
Karma Tomm, Director 
Queen’s Conservatory of Music
39 Bader Lane
Kingston, ON, K7L 3N6
Please direct questions to Karma Tomm at 613-533-6000 x 79069 or

Friday, October 1, 2010

Canadian Opera Company gets street-cred on Opera Chic blog

Canadian Opera has made it to the pages/screen of opera blogger Opera Chic.

On occasion of Sondra Radvanovsky's Aida debut for the company's first production of Verdi's grand opera in 25 years, The Globe and Mail's Style section gets all fashion-y, proving that Canadians don't throw tuxedo jackets over Toronto Maple Leaf jerseys for opening nights (obligatory Canada/hockey joke).  

Go Canada - a hockey AND an opera nation!


One of my favourite blogs to read is Coloratur...aah!  (yes, I've shattered glass!). A young up-and-coming coloratura soprano making it in Europe and now the US and incredibly, has been able to remain anonymous (to my knowledge) on the web.  I really love her direct, American candour about what it takes to be a singer and most recently, her rant about singing Queen of the Night. many different ways can you freak a Koenigin out right before she has to sing DER HOELLE RACHE?! The ONE aria in the show that EVERYONE knows? and the REASON that we get hired for the role? ie- the PERFECT F's! Really? You want me to enter on a revolving what? And go into what trap door halfway through the aria? With dancers underneath me making noise with props that they have to use DURING the aria? Oh- awesome, because I just thought that you wanted me to sing it without feeling like I have to throw up. That would be nice.

Check her out because I know you will laugh out loud AND get a fresh perspective on this crazy business of being a singer!

From the voice of....