Wednesday, November 30, 2011

T.O.S.C.A. at UofT Opera School

Caught you!  You thought the UofT Opera School was performing Puccini's Tosca this fact, they are doing a night of Poulenc: La Voix Humaine & Les Mamelles de Tirésias.  

Check out the details below:

From the melodic pen of Francis Poulenc come two one-act works of stunning theatrical contrast. La Voix Humaine [The Human Voice] portrays the heart wrenching grief of a woman’s final farewell to her lover while Les Mamelles de Tirésias [The Breasts of Tirésias] brilliantly satirizes feminism, fertility drugs and “family values”.
Sandra Horst conductor
Michael Patrick Albano & Erik Thor directors

Thursday, Friday, Saturday | December 1, 2 & 3, 2011 | 7:30 pm
Sunday | December 4, 2011 | 2:30 pm
MacMillan Theatre | $30 ($20*) | FlexiMIX: $24

The TOSCA I mentioned are the ARIA awards that will be presented on Monday, December 5, 2011.

ARIAS: Canadian Opera Student Development Fund
invites you to join us at our annual fundraising event,

The Opera Scholarship Celebration Awards  -  T.O.S.C.A. 2011

Monday, December 5, 2011
Walter Hall at the Edward Johnson Building
Faculty of Music, University of Toronto
80 Queens Park Crescent

Gala Cocktail reception at 6:00 p.m. - Library Atrium, Ground Floor
Concert at 7:30 p.m. - Walter Hall

Join us as ARIAS recognizes and celebrates the excellence of the vocalists of
the Opera Division of the Faculty of Music, University of Toronto.
This festive evening will begin with a fundraising cocktail reception, followed by
a concert of vocal performances from scholarship recipients past and present.
T.O.S.C.A. 2011 will conclude with the presentation of this year's
ARIAS Scholarships to the 2011 Opera Division recipients.

Gala Cocktail Reception and Concert: $125.00
For tickets, please contact ARIAS at 416.863.0364

Concert Only:  Adults - $35.00, Students - $15.00


Not your usual auditions call:

CASTING CALL FOR JERICHO-BAGDAD - deadline is this Friday!

PROJECT: shooting dramatic scenes for two feature-length ‘documentary-operas’, Jericho and Baghdad, (working titles) that explore diverse operatic idioms (from Schoenberg and Britten to the Eurovision Song Contest), to investigate issues of anti-war activism, queer identity and middle-east conflicts. Real-life characters from history and the present-day (Jean Genet, Salam Pax, Abu Nawas, James Loney)
interact with fictional characters. The films use humour and new music to investigate the complexities of recent struggles.

TEAM: Writer/Director John Greyson is a Toronto filmmaker/video artist whose Genie-winning features include Lilies, Zero Patience, The Law of Enclosures and Fig Trees. Composer David Wall has created Gemini-nominated scores for over 100 features, documentaries and TV shows. Editor Jared Raab is an award-winning director and editor whose work includes features, docs and music videos. Production
Manager Graydon Sheppard is the writer/director of several acclaimed shorts.

SHOOT: early March, 2012 in Toronto.

RATES: Non-union (equivalent to Actra TIP rates).

AUDITIONS: December 6 & 7, 2011, for both singing and acting. All roles except Hamza are singing roles, and require classically trained voices (with strong sight reading a plus). For audition, bring sheet music of prepared audition song (note: though character’s nationality is designated, singers/actors can be of any race and voice)

DEADLINE: Friday, December 2, 2011

CONTACT: send headshots and acting/singing resumes to:

JEAN GENET: 60, male, French writer, weathered, his experience of fleeting fame and notoriety behind him. Now a bit of a lost soul,
hiding his profound, yearning romanticism behind a wry melancholy.
GENERAL: 60, male, American military leader, in charge of various reconstruction projects in Baghdad. Charismatic, gently masculine, a
natural, confident leader, a dad to his soldiers
DANA: 35, female, ‘European’ executive, ruthless CEO of Sanguine Books, a multinational publishing house that is hosting the 2012
Eurovision Song Contest in Jericho. Charming and flamboyant, with razor-sharp tongue and heels to match.
WALID: 25, male, Iraqi translator (should be fluent in Arabic and English, with Arabic being first language) and inventor of peculiar clocks
and time devices. Handsome, ironic, reserved.
JAMES LONEY: 35, male, Canadian peace activist and member of Christian Peacemakers Team, held hostage in Iraq for 3 months.
SALAM PAX: 35, male, Iraqi architect, gained fame as the Baghdad Blogger during the 2003 war. Wry, ironic, both a pessimist and a
romantic, campy sense of humour.
ABU NAWAS: 40, male, Iraqi poet, renowned 8th century Arab/Persian poet and folkloric figure, famous for his saucy tributes to boys,
wine and pleasure.
HAMZA: 22, male, Palestinian tightrope walker (non-singing role). A worldly optimist, he is amused by Genet’s pessimism, and entranced
by the ironies of his own predicament, having survived burial in the desert for 8800 years.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Excitement in Canadian Opera Land...

One of the most exciting events in the lives of young Canadian opera singers occurred last night as the COC kicked off its first public competition (a la MET Finals).  Ten young artists were chosen to compete for a coveted spot in the COC Ensemble for 2012-12 as well as cash prizes.  After much searching (google was NO HELP), the @CanadianOperaCompany twitter account had the details:

First place: soprano Sasha Djihanian
Second Place: soprano Claire de Sevigne
Third Place: tenor Owen McCausland
Audience Choice: soprano Lindsay Barrett

Congratulations to all singers for what Twitter and Facebook users are hailing as "fantastic", "blown away", and "enormously talented"!

Check out the COC Blog Parlando for more details and their Flickr account for pictures!

(thanks to Rosanna Murphy's FB page for the pic!)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

I want my MTV...or iPad?

Classical music is  in tradition and as new media and TV and movies have taken over our entertainment sphere, classical groups have spent the many years now trying to find new ways to engage and ever aging audience...think school tours, live stream, HD broadcasts...the list goes on!

The NYTimes published a review this morning called "Classical Conducting?  There's an app for that!"  A headline to grab our attention for sure!  But what they reported was:

Jeffrey Kahane offered glimpses of both the past and a possible future in his performance with theNew York Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall on Tuesday evening.....He played the Beethoven from memory, but for the Mozart, he used an iPad instead of a conventional score.

And on Monday, The Globe and Mail reported "Classical Music without the tuxes and pricey tickets?  Its a revolution!"

...there’s live music at Dave’s, a local bar, and the place is packed.  There’s nothing strange about this picture – until you step in the door and hear what kind of music has drawn a crowd on an off night. In the centre of the room, a young clarinetist and an ad hoc string quartet are working their way through Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet.....Welcome to the revolution – the Classical Revolution, that is. Across North America, classical players are returning chamber music to its origins: informal performances among friends in intimate settings.
It would seem that the more we try to change, the more we stay the same.  

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Atelier S: Auditions for Werther

Last week I blogged about Opera Lyra in Ottawa shutting down productions for the remainder of this season and while it was unfortunate, so many other programs have popped up during this time of cutbacks. One such program that has been slowly building momentum is Atelier S.  

Check out their upcoming program to present Massenet's Werther straight from their website:

Opera Workshop 2012: Massenet's WERTHER

MARCH 12 - MAY 13, 2012

Toronto, Canada


           STUART GRAHAM
         CLAUDE WEBSTER (Head Coach Atelier Lyrique de L'Opéra de Montréal)
Commemorating the centennial of the passing of Jules Massenet, Atelier S is pleased to announce WERTHER as its next opera workshop production.  Massenet's rich and colourful score is some of the richest romantic music of the French vocal repertoire offering an incredible lyric vehicle for all the singers involved.
I am very pleased to announce, joining me on faculty, the involvement of internationally renowned operalogue and Stage Director, JEANNETTE ASTER and, internationally sought resource on the French repertoire and Head Coach of Atelier Lyrique de L'Opéra de Montréal, pianist CLAUDE WEBSTER.  These two wonderful artists will be offering masterclasses and seminars to the participants.
Dec. 1-16, 2011
Live auditions will be heard in Toronto, Canada
For out of town and international applicants wishing to audition via demo recording (CD or DVD), all materials must be received by Dec. 15, 2011.
 To apply, please send (either by email or regular post): resumé, bio, photo (publicity headshot) along with two letters of reference/recommendation from noted professionals in the field (teachers, coaches, conductors, directors) to:
Atelier S 
40 Alexander St., Suite 1510, Toronto, ON M4Y 1B5
OR  email to:
 Audition Requirements:
  • 3 contrasting arias (at least one from Massenet's Werther)
  • dramatic monologue (spoken) from the libretto
  • PIANISTS auditioning for the program will be asked to accompany a singer's audition, as well as play "La Nuit de Noël" from Act IV (Heugel Edition)
Please contact us at:
416.927.9105 or email us for full program details.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Youtube Voice Competition sponsored by Hal Leonard

Hal Leonard recently announced the 2012 Vocal Competition for Art Song and Musical Theatre.  Comprised entirely of online video submissions, this competition will net the winners cash awards with second and third place winners receiving gift certificates for MUSIC!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

More good news for Canadian Opera

This came out last week but in light of the BAD news this week about Opera Lyra in Ottawa, this might show us a light at the end of the tunnel...I have heard a number of these singers at the UofT Faculty of Music and can guarantee this will be a night of fabulous talent and potential!

Toronto – Following auditions in Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal and New York City attended by Canadian Opera Company administrators, 10 out of a pool of over 160 young, aspiring opera singers have been selected to compete in the final auditions at the inaugural COC Ensemble Studio Competition.  For the first time in the history of the COC, the final auditions for singers seeking to join the Ensemble Studio training program will be made public as a vocal competition.  In addition to an offer of a coveted position in the 2012/2013 Ensemble Studio, the singers will be competing for one of four cash prizes.  A limited number of tickets priced at $30 are now on sale for the COC Ensemble Studio Competition, which takes place on Nov. 28, 2011 at 5:30 p.m. in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.

Ten finalists will perform in front of an audience and a panel of judges, comprised of COC General Director Alexander Neef, Music Administrator Sandra Gavinchuk, Head of the Ensemble Studio Liz Upchurch,
Opera Canada editor Wayne Gooding, and Canadian soprano, opera coach, and Ensemble Studio alumna Wendy Nielsen.  Over the course of the two-hour competition, each finalist will perform two arias showcasing their vocal technique and range.  The judging panel will deliberate on location and announce the competition winners at the conclusion of the evening’s event.

Select finalists will be invited to join the 12/13 Ensemble Studio, with the number of offers to be determined by the judging panel.  First, second and third prizes, worth $5,000, $3,000, and $1,500, respectively, will be awarded, in addition to a People’s Choice Award, selected by audience vote, worth $1,500.

The Ensemble Studio Competition highlights the finest young talent from across the country.  Winning a place in what is Canada’s premier training program for opera professionals can be these singers’ first step towards an international opera career. The audience at the vocal competition will be hearing the singers selected to follow in the footsteps of such renowned Ensemble Studio graduates as Ben Heppner, Isabel Bayrakdarian, Joseph Kaiser, and John Fanning, among many others.

The finalists are:
·         Lindsay Barrett (Sudbury, ON)
·         Claire de Sevigne (Montreal, QC)
·         Sasha Djihanian (Montreal, QC)
·         Rachel Fenlon (Victoria, BC)
·         Aviva Fortunata Wilks (Calgary, AB)
·         David Gibbons (Red Deer, AB)
·         Danielle MacMillan (Toronto, ON)
·         Owen McCausland (Saint John, NB)
·         Laura McLean (New Glasgow, NS)
·         Cameron McPhail (Brandon, MB)

“The quantity and quality of young opera talent in Canada is staggering, and the finalists in this year’s competition are truly some of the best emerging artists from across the country,” says COC General Director Alexander Neef, “The members of the Ensemble Studio are the opera stars of tomorrow and, through the COC Ensemble Studio Competition, the public is given the exciting opportunity to be a part of these singers’ professional journeys from the very beginning.” 

Tickets are $30 and are available for purchase online at, by calling COC Ticket Services at 416-363-8231, or in person at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts Box Office, located at 145 Queen St. W., Monday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Good and bad news in the land of Canadian Opera

I just read today about the situation at Ottawa's Opera Lyra.  Apparently they are so financially squeezed that they have had to cancel the remainder of their 2011-12 season - two full productions (of only four for the season) and thus laying off singers, stage managers, chorus, an orchestra, costumers, make up artists, and the list goes on.  In this world of constant cuts because of a depressed economy, is it any wonder that it would seem like a bleak outlook for young singers.

That all being said, on the opposite side of the coin (or the swing of the pendulum) are a whole new crop of young opera companies run by singers trying to provide opportunity to themselves and others.  I guess the old saying of "those that get the most help, help themselves" is true in this case.

So check out these upstarts for yourself...

Metro Youth Opera (Toronto)

Essential Opera (Toronto)

Wish Opera (Toronto)

Opera Kitchener (Kitchener)

The plethora of small companies in BC (and big, thriving ones too!)

Maritime Concert Opera (Nova Scotia)

I know there are MORE but these are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head....feel free to add to my list here but...the moral of the story: for every action, there is an opposite and equal reaction!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Mary's Wedding PREMIERS tonight at POV

Pacific Opera Victoria (POV) will be premiering Mary's Wedding tonight at the McPherson Playhouse in Victoria.  From the current press, this sounds like it could be THE opera of the year - check it out and the various articles here and here and here.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

More than one cautionary tale...

Reading the NYTimes yesterday was like receiving a cautionary tale for singers....a list of health issues that are rocking more than just the classical music world of singers...

Adele has surgery on her vocal cords, Keith Uban has a polyp on his cords and James Levine still can't stand up to conduct.

The moral of the story:  take care of yourselves singers!

Some days we just feel like this...

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

*UPDATE* SONGFEST...auditions coming to Toronto in 2012

“Breaking the Song Barrier”
June 5-28 - Pepperdine University

LIVE AUDITIONS: Cincinnati, Hong Kong, NYC, LA, Boston, Toronto (TBA)
UPDATE (11/8/11): Toronto auditions are January 22 at the Royal Conservatory of Music.  Click here for more information!
Founded in 1996 by Rosemary Hyler Ritter, SongFest is a unique program that focuses on the art of song.  Participants from all over the world, ranging in age from high school students to working professionals, gather each summer at Pepperdine University for an intense program to learn from experts in the field of classical art song.  SongFest boasts the best collection of faculty in the world, including pianists Martin Katz, Margo Garrett, and Roger Vignoles.  SongFest also champions American music and every summer invites composers-in-residence to work directly with SongFest participants in master classes and private coachings.  Over the past 17 years, SongFest has engaged American composers Jake Heggie, John Harbison, John Musto, Libby Larsen, Ben Moore, Tom Cipullo, Lori Laitman, Ricky Ian Gordon, among many others.  SongFest alumni currently sing at all the major opera houses in the United States and abroad and hold faculty positions at leading American universities.


for Singers and Collaborative Pianists 
“Breaking the Song Barrier”
Performing workshops for career-oriented singers and collaborative pianists.  Master classes, public recitals, and limited private coachings. No age limit. 

for Singers
The SongFest Young Artist program is designed to provide intensive study and training for talented young singers (normally completing a Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree) in a healthy, professional, and positive environment. Instruction includes performing master classes as well as song literature classes, movement, repertoire classes, diction, and coachings.  These young singers will have the opportunity to join the Professional Fellows for performance in various master classes and public performances in addition to their own classes. 

for Singers
Melanie Emelio, program director
Jennifer Tung, assistant director

The SongFest Intern Program is designed for highly talented young singers between the ages of 15-18. This program provides intensive study for young singers in a healthy, professional, and unique learning environment, learning from leading musicians and colleagues in the program. Singers are challenged to improve their technical and expressive musical skills, and to explore the great classical songs and arias. Students will have private lessons, as well as daily coachings, classes in diction, repertoire, and technique. To add to the learning experience, each singer will have a private session in the Kwong Vocal Arts Lab at Pepperdine University. These aspiring singers will have their own master classes and be selected to perform on select concerts. By interacting with the more experienced singers, they will be exposed to many different faculty and layers of learning. 

A new program designed for professional teachers or coaches. 

For more information about the Mentor Program, please contact Rosemary Hyler Ritter at 310.384.3706

After acceptance notification and payment of the tuition deposit, the repertoire selection process will begin. Each singer and pianist will work closely with Artistic Director Rosemary Ritter to choose repertoire to be prepared for the program. All music must be fully prepared and memorized before arriving at SongFest. In addition to the specific repertoire choices of the singers, faculty will assign selected songs.

Click HERE for a PDF version of the SongFest 2011 Program Book.

Participants will be notified of acceptance by March 5, 2012 or earlier. Accepted applicants must pay a non-refundable $500 tuition deposit within two weeks of acceptance. 

From the voice of....