Out of a pool of 120 aspiring opera singers from across the country, eight were selected to compete at Centre Stage: Ensemble Studio Competition on November 3, 2015, our annual celebration of the next generation of opera stars selected from nationwide auditions for the COC Ensemble Studio—Canada’s premier training program for young opera professionals. The competition features the young singers vying for cash prizes ranging in value from $1,500 to $5,000. We interviewed our eight young finalists to learn more—check out all of the interviews, linked by name as they become available, here (or here if on a mobile device).
Originally from Kitchener, Ontario, soprano Samantha Pickett studied opera at McGill and Wilfrid Laurier universities. Her credits include Anna in Crush (Banff Centre); the Countess in The Marriage of Figaro (Opera McGill and Opera Laurier); La Ciesca in Gianni Schicchi, understudy for the title role in Suor Angelica and Elle in La voix humaine (Opera McGill); Micaëla in Carmenand Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni (Opera NUOVA); Mrs. Demers in City Workers in Love, Lady Gerstein in One Lump or Two, Sophia in May 23, and First Lady in The Magic Flute (Opera Laurier). She recently participated in the St. Andrews by-the-Sea Opera Workshop and the Bel Canto Summer Voice Program in Munich.
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A native of Laval, Quebec, mezzo-soprano Pascale Spinney studied opera at McGill University and is a current member of the Atelier lyrique de l’Opéra de Montréal. Her recent credits include Kate Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly (Opéra de Montréal); Dora in A Little Too Cozy (Banff Centre); Fatmé in Zémire et Azor (Violons du Roy); Hänsel in Hänsel und Gretel (VIVace); Véronique in Le Docteur Miracle (Stu&Jess Productions); the title role in Giulio Cesare in Egitto, Zerlina in Don Giovanni, Third Lady in The Magic Flute, Epicene in Volpone, and Eustazio in Rinaldo (Opera McGill). Upcoming roles include Stephano and Gertrude in Jeunesses Musicales du Canada’s touring production of Roméo et Juliette.
Halifax native and baritone Zachary Read is currently a member of Vancouver Opera’s Yulanda M. Faris Young Artist Program, and he studied opera at the University of Toronto (UofT) and Western University. His credits include Marullo in Rigoletto, Jonas Fogg in Sweeney Todd, Le Podestat in Le Docteur Miracle, Ivan in Die Fledermaus, and Morales in Carmen (Vancouver Opera); Sid in Albert Herring and Malatesta in Don Pasquale (UofT Opera); and Guglielmo in Così fan tutte (Accademia Europea dell’Opera). Mr. Read was a Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions regional finalist and won the District People’s Choice Award. He was also a semi-finalist in the 2015 Lotte Lenya Competition. Upcoming roles include Prince Yamadori and Imperial Commissioner in Vancouver Opera’s Madama Butterfly.
Sara Fulgoni in the COC production of Bluebeard's Castle. Photo: Michael Cooper © 2001