What she's doing with us: Ensemble Studio graduate Ileana Montalbetti returns to the COC to star alongside world-famous tenor Ben Heppner in Peter Grimes. The Saskatchewan native makes her role debut as Ellen Orford, the town school teacher and one of Grimes' few friends.
Where you might have seen her: While she was in the Ensemble Studio, Ileana performed in mainstage performances of La Cenerentola, Maria Stuarda and Death in Venice. Last season she returned to the COC to understudy the roles of Leonora in Il Trovatore and Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus and gave two Free Concert Series performances. Since graduating from the Ensemble Studio in June 2012, Ileana has made her Edmonton Opera debut as Antonia in The Tales of Hoffmann, and performed as Leonore in Fidelio at the Michigan Opera Theatre.
Her background: After completing undergraduate studies at the University of Manitoba, Ileana continued to hone her skills at the University of Toronto, graduating from the opera diploma program. She also studied at the Chautauqua Institute and completed two fellowships at the Tanglewood Music Centre in addition to the four years she spent in the COC Ensemble Studio.
Interviews and profiles: John Gilks wrote about Ileana's "Farewell concert" at the Free Concert Series and she was featured in a Meet the Singers post for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. You can also learn more about Ileana on her website.
What's next for Ileana: In April 2014, Ileana makes her New York City Opera debut as Marcellina in La nozze di Figaro, alongside fellow Ensemble Studio graduate Simone Osborne.
Meet Ileana in this short video she made for the Montreal International Music Competition.
Photo: Ileana Montalbetti. Photo by Bo Huang.
Posted by Danielle D'Ornellas / in Peter Grimes / comments (0) / permalink
By Tanya Morgado, Public Relations Intern
While Torontonians are sweltering under back-to-back heat alerts, new Ensemble Studio member tenor Andrew Haji is enjoying the friendlier weather in California. “Santa Barbara's weather is phenomenal,” he says. “It’s just the right temperature, with very little rain and lots of sun.”
Andrew (last seen at the COC winning second-place in the Ensemble Studio Competition) is having a busy summer attending the Music Academy of the West, a two-month program for opera singers and instrumentalists. The musicians participate in daily rehearsals, masterclasses, and individual lessons with prestigious faculty members, including mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne who has directed the vocal program since 1997.
“I was very excited to work with Marilyn Horne,” confesses Andrew. “I've had one voice lesson with her so far, and she’s fantastic. She's been in the business for a good amount of time so she knows all the secrets and the tools of the trade. I have also had a chance to work with some great coaches from around the country: Carrie-Ann Matheson, who is a prompter at the Met; Warren Jones, a superb pianist and coach; and Jonathan Kelly, assistant conductor at the Met and San Francisco Opera.”
The program also offers Andrew many performance opportunities, beginning with a “Death by Aria” concert which took place in the first week. Each Academy Voice Fellow sang an aria, and Andrew explains that it was “similar to a ‘sing-in’ but with a paying audience.” A few days later, he sang in a masterclass led by Russian baritone, Vladimir Chernov: “Vladimir gave a recital shortly after, and it was phenomenal. It was truly a wonderful experience to work with him, and to listen to his exquisite music-making.”
Andrew and the Voice Fellows made some exquisite music of their own in the Academy’s “Opera Scenes” concerts on July 8 and 10. The performance featured scenes from Rossini’s La Cenerentola, Donizetti’s Don Pasquale and L’elisir d’amore, R. Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier, Britten’s Albert Herring, Verdi’s Il Trovatore, and Menotti’s The Saint of Bleeker Street. Guest artist Gregory Fortner directed the operatic mosaic, and Andrew says “it was an incredible experience. It was like a ‘highlights’ show, and the audience seemed to really like it. I was in the Elixir scene – we did the duet with Nemorino and Dr. Dulcamara. It's a tough scene, vocally, but it is one of the most enjoyable to perform.”
Performing far from his hometown of London, Ontario is made easier by the Academy’s Compeer Program, an innovative community engagement program. The program matches each Fellow with a Compeer—a member of the local community and Music Academy sponsor. “Compeers support their students by cheering them on in performances, showing them around town, and taking them out for the occasional meal,” explains Andrew. “It's actually a really cool program, especially since it gives you a friendly face to look for in the audience every time you're up on the stage.”
Andrew will find a familiar face on stage when he sings the role of Tamino in the Academy’s production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute on August 2 and 4. He’ll perform alongside returning COC Ensemble Studio member Claire de Sévigné, who’s singing the role of The Queen of the Night. The COC duo will also share the stage at the Academy’s gala event, CABARET, on August 8. The Voice Fellows will perform classical, Broadway, and pop favourites under the stars and Andrew reveals he’ll be “singing a song popularized by Mario Lanza: “Be My Love”. All the men will be dressed in tuxedos and the women in very lavish gowns. It's a very elegant evening.”
The Music Academy schedule gives Fellows a day off on Sundays, but Andrew admits he hasn’t had time to explore California. When he does get to travel and play the role of tourist, you’re most likely to find him behind the wheel: “I really don't like flying very much. All the security and waiting in lines and the tiny seats aren't my idea of fun. Trains are great, but I really prefer to be in the driver's seat.” And what does this talented young tenor listen to while on the road? “My non-classical tastes are very eclectic. I listen to a lot of electronic music, including Skrillex and deadmau5, but I also enjoy listening to the likes of Coldplay, John Mayer, and Maroon 5.”
We wish Andrew the best of luck with the last month of the program, and look forward to hearing him on September 26 at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, where he and his fellow Ensemble Studio members will kick off the Free Concert Series in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre in a “Meet the Young Artists” performance!
Photo: (top) Andrew Haji; (middle) Vladimir Chernov and Andrew Haji at Vladimir Chernov’s masterclass on June 21, 2013. Photo credit: (middle) Music Academy of the West.
Posted by Danielle D'Ornellas / in Ensemble Studio / comments (1) / permalink
What's he doing with us: This fall we're presenting a brand new production of one of opera's most beloved love stories — Puccini's heartbreaking La Bohème. Our Set and Costume Designer David Farley makes his COC debut imagining the world of Rodolfo, Mimì, Marcello and Musetta, designing a set inspired by and comprised of Marcello’s paintings.
Where you might have seen him: The Olivier Award-winning and Tony Award-nominated designer has credits that include a deliciously bleak production of The Turn of the Screw at the New York City Opera, several highly lauded theatre productions such as La Cage aux Folles and Sunday in the Park with George in London's West End and Broadway (the latter of which earned him an Olivier), and closer to home for us, Kiss Me, Kate at the Stratford Festival.
His background: A graduate of the Oxfordshire School of Art and Design and Wimbledon School of Art, Farley started his career with a strong, practical background in Theatre Design and had his first big break designing a David Mamet double bill of Sexual Perversity in Chicago and The Shawl.
Interviews and profiles: David spoke with Ideas Tap about his career so far and how he got his start in the industry and also completed a 20 questions interview with What's On Stage.
The look and feel of La Bohème: Our latest Inside Opera video features David Farley discussing his inspiration behind this production of La Bohème and features a first look at some of our props, sets and designs!
La Bohème runs from October 3 to 30, 2013 at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. Subscription packages are on sale now and single tickets go on sale August 24.
Posted by Danielle D'Ornellas / in La Bohème / comments (0) / permalink
Sara Fulgoni in the COC production of Bluebeard's Castle. Photo: Michael Cooper © 2001