On November 26, 2013, for the first time, nine finalists in the Ensemble Studio Competition will now perform from the mainstage of the Four Seasons Centre, accompanied by the internationally acclaimed COC Orchestra conducted by COC Music Director Johannes Debus and hosted by Grammy-nominated and multi-Juno Award winner, singer-songwriter and composer Rufus Wainwright. To watch the competition and see Canada's rising opera stars, visit our Centre Stage website and buy your tickets today! Over the next two weeks, follow along on Parlando as we introduce you to each of our finalists.
Having to sing in a language other than your mother tongue is par for the course in the opera world, so knowing a couple, particularly French, Italian or German, can come in handy for a singer. Well, tenor Jean-Philippe Fortier-Lazure has it covered, and then some.
Jean-Philippe was born and raised in Ontario’s Kitchener-Waterloo area, but with all of his extended family in Québec, and having spent a lot of time in Ottawa and Montreal as part of his university and vocal studies, French comes just as easily to him as English. He also has a bit of familiarity with Spanish, German and some Italian, courtesy of high school student exchanges. Jean-Philippe says he has enough that he can “get by” or as he puts it, “So, if I was dropped from a plane and landed in Spain, Germany or even Italy, I could have a siesta, order a schnitzel, and find some delicious gelato, and then reluctantly make my way home.”
This flare for languages would certainly come in handy if Jean-Philippe were ever to pursue a career as an interpreter, a profession he’s already flirted with to some degree through studies in university and as a volunteer interpreter with the Kitchener-Waterloo Philharmonic Youth Choir on a trip to Europe. “I loved the experience,” he says. “It was challenging, but a lot of fun at the same time!”
Fortunately for opera fans, classical music got to Jean-Philippe first. It’s been part of his life since childhood. He’s played the violin and sung in choirs since before he can even remember. The foundation was laid early so when the idea of a career in opera came around, there was no turning back.
“When studying linguistics at the University of Ottawa, I started taking voice lessons with a professor, who turned out to be the chorus master for Opera Lyra Ottawa. He gladly let me join the chorus and that’s where I really fell in love with opera. I was amazed by the control and the artistry of the people I was working alongside,” Jean-Philippe shares. “And so, from that point on, I immersed myself in the art form and I’ve been having fun ever since! It is such a wonderful feeling to work on something for months, even years, and still be discovering new secrets, new ways of thinking and still be so moved. I can’t see myself doing anything else!” A good mindset to have for the singer whose dream role is Canio in Pagliacci - “The music and the drama are terrifyingly magnificent,” he says.
Jean-Philippe is currently pursuing a master’s degree in classical singing at the University of Montreal. He has participated in young artist training programs with the National Arts Centre, Centre d’Arts Orford and Académie Internationale d’été Nice. His credits include Pelléas in Pélleas et Mélisande (Nova Scotia Opera Company and Atelier d’Opéra, University of Montreal); Chevalier de la Force in Dialogues des Carmélites (Atelier d’Opéra); Beppe in Pagliacci (Opera Lyra Ottawa – Silver Cast); Tamino in Die Zauberflöte, Don Curzio/Don Basilio in Le nozze di Figaro and Mr. Gobineau in The Medium (University of Ottawa Opera Productions); and Guard in Manon and Prince of Persia in Turandot (Opera Lyra Ottawa).
Outside of opera, scuba-diving is pretty high on Jean-Philippe’s to-do list. “I enjoy scuba diving any chance I get,” he says. “I love the feeling of flying just like Superman, weightless above the ocean floor.”
You can also find him cooking: “I recently discovered the Montreal Jean-Talon Market, which is an amazing place!”, or volunteering for a worthy charitable cause.
“Alongside my girlfriend and a colleague dear to me, I recently had a chance to raise funds for the Northern Cancer Foundation of Sudbury,” he shares. “It was gratifying to be able to lend my talents to a cause that has affected close friends.”
The Ensemble Studio competition is Tuesday, November 26, 2013. Tickets to the Ensemble Studio Competition and Centre Stage cocktail celebration are $100. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit COCCentrestage.ca. You can also buy tickets here, call COC Ticket Services at 416-363-8231, or go to the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts Box Office (145 Queen St. W.). You can also chat about the event with us on Twitter using #COCCentrestage.
Posted by Danielle D'Ornellas / in Ensemble Studio / comments (0) / permalink
Health coach. Therapist. Yoga Teacher.
Those are the possible careers that Emma Char may have pursued, that is if the mezzo-soprano hadn’t begun, at the age of 16, what has turned into a love affair with opera.
Born in Kitchener, Ontario, but raised in Philadelphia since the age of four, Emma fell into opera gradually, beginning with lessons with a voice teacher because she was interested in learning how to sing for musical theatre.
“He was the one who introduced me to classical singing in art songs and encouraged me to apply to music school for a voice degree. I decided singing was something I wanted to focus on more, so I took the plunge and went to a conservatory,” says Emma.
That operatic dive has put her on a path to one day realizing her dream role of singing Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia.
Emma received her master’s degree in music from Florida State University and an artist diploma from University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music (CCM). She then went on to join the Atelier lyrique de l’Opéra de Montréal, of which she is currently a member. Her recent credits include Mallika in Lakmé and Rosette in Manon (Opéra de Montréal); La chatte/L’écureuil in L’enfant et les sortilèges (Canadian Vocal Arts Institute); Ramiro in Motezuma (Ensemble Caprice); The Mother in Amahl and the Night Visitors (Atelier lyrique); Angelina in La Cenerentola and Sesto in Giulio Cesare (CCM). She has an upcoming performance as Hänsel in Hänsel und Gretel (Atelier lyrique).
In her free time, Emma's hobbies and interests take her outside of the operatic world. She’ll go to the gym, do yoga, take walks, enjoy great meals with friends, and read and watch TV and films. But her passion for opera burns pretty strong.
“I find opera amazing because the art form is so multifaceted. There are so many layers to sort through — text, music, character and story – and each layer is so rich and often in its highest or most complex form,” says Emma. “Then there is the physical aspect to opera, such as how do we bring this to life through our bodies? There are endless things to uncover with each opera one studies. It’s never boring!”
Learn more about Emma on her website, or follow her on Twitter!
The Ensemble Studio competition is Tuesday, November 26, 2013. Tickets to the Ensemble Studio Competition and Centre Stage cocktail celebration are $100. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit COCCentrestage.ca. You can buy tickets here, call COC Ticket Services at 416-363-8231, or go to the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts Box Office (145 Queen St. W.). You can also chat about the event with us on Twitter using #COCCentrestage.
By Gianmarco Segato, Adult Programs Manager
For Episode 19, the “Opera critics UNITE!” edition, we welcome back opera journalists Joseph So, and Paula Citron; Western Canadian opera presenter and journalist, Stephan Bonfield as well as opera blogger John Gilks. New to the panel is Toronto music critic and musician, John Terauds. Gianmarco Segato, the COC’s Adult Programs Manager, is your host.
We took advantage of the critic-heavy presence this week to hold a round table discussion on the past, present and future of classical musical criticism (sneaking in a couple of other timely topics as well!)
Are you out there listening? What would you like us to talk about next time? Let us know by sending us your ideas/comments by commenting here, on Facebook, Twitter or by e-mail (email@example.com).
Posted by Danielle D'Ornellas / in The Big COC Podcast / comments (0) / permalink
Sara Fulgoni in the COC production of Bluebeard's Castle. Photo: Michael Cooper © 2001