On November 29, 10 young singers will participate in the COC Ensemble Studio Competition, competing for cash prizes and a position in the prestigious Ensemble Studio training program for emerging artists. Every day we will introduce you to our finalists. Today's finalist? Mezzo-soprano Aviva Fortunata.
Aviva Fortunata, a soprano from Calgary, AB, is passionate about everything she does, not just opera. If she weren’t a singer, she says she “would definitely want to devote my energy towards the exciting and under-appreciated world of professional roller derby.”
Aside from roller derby, Aviva enjoys nail polish art (check out her nail polish blog), guerilla knitting and Broadway shows.
But she’s chosen to devote her life to music — so why opera instead of roller derby or Broadway? “I grew up performing in community theatre musicals, and I always knew that I wanted to keep singing forever!” Aviva says. “As I grew up, classical song repertoire and the grand theatrics of opera appealed to me more and more, and now I can't imagine doing anything else. It is a difficult field, but it is so exciting to be doing what I love as a job, as clichéd as that sounds. I find the rehearsal process to be as satisfying, challenging, and equally rewarding as the performance aspect itself.”
Aviva’s performance experience has only enhanced her love for opera. While completing her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music at the University of Toronto, she appeared as Donna Anna in Don Giovanni, Gertrude in Hansel and Gretel and Tatyana in Eugene Onegin.
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On November 29, 10 young singers will participate in the COC Ensemble Studio Competition, competing for cash prizes and a position in the prestigious Ensemble Studio training program for emerging artists. Every day we will introduce you to some our finalists. Our next finalist? Mezzo-soprano Charlotte Burrage.
Finalist Charlotte Burrage, a mezzo soprano, credits her parents for getting her involved in a wide variety of extracurricular activities when she was a child. Even though she grew up in a small town (Sweaburg, ON, just southwest of Woodstock), she still had the opportunity to experience “every recreation possible.”
After trying music, theatre and sports, Charlotte quit competitive swimming to focus on singing and says, “I think the day I quit the [swim] team for music I knew there was no turning back.”
At first Charlotte played piano, but became hooked on opera after meeting her teacher Vicki St. Pierre. “Her voice was the first operatic sound I had ever heard and I was blown away,” Charlotte remembers. “The power of her voice and the effect it had on me was something I had never experienced. I bought my first classical vocal recording shortly after meeting Vicki; she recommended Maureen Forrester and I haven't stopped listening to her since.”
On November 29, 10 young singers will participate in the COC Ensemble Studio Competition, competing for cash prizes and a position in the prestigious Ensemble Studio training program for emerging artists. Today we will introduce you to two of our finalists. Our first finalist? Bass-baritone Gordon Bintner.
Gordon Bintner, a native of Regina, SK, is drawn to opera because it means he’s always learning something new. For this bass-baritone, who says he would be a teacher if he weren’t a singer, the constant process of studying and performing is what makes opera so special.
Although he grew up singing, he only discovered opera in university. “It gives me a great deal of pleasure to explore this wonderful repertoire, to bring a character to life, and I find that studying and performing opera has had a profound impact on my personality, and my mind,” he says. “My journey in music and my journey through life are in many ways one and the same. Personal triumphs, the overcoming of obstacles, taking risks, sharing, discovery—it’s a lifelong journey, and it is as much personal as it is technical.”
Gordon’s music studies have taken him from Regina to Montreal, where he completed first a bachelor of music and then a master’s in opera and voice. He has also studied at Opera NUOVA (Edmonton), the Toronto Summer Music Academy and most recently the Merola Opera Program (San Francisco). He has portrayed Figaro (Le nozze di Figaro, Opera NUOVA), Don Giovanni (Don Giovanni, Opera McGill) and Colline (La Bohème, Angers Nantes Opéra). In 2013, he plays Lescaut (Manon) for Opéra de Montréal and appears in two productions by Opera McGill.
Sara Fulgoni in the COC production of Bluebeard's Castle. Photo: Michael Cooper © 2001