Parlando: The COC Blog


Centre Stage 2015: Samantha Pickett

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 Carmen and 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.

Three Things about Samantha Pickett 

Why opera? How did you come to be an opera singer and what do you find so compelling about the art form?

I fell in love with music at the tender age of three. My mother took my brother and me to see The Phantom of the Opera, and I cried at intermission because I thought it was over. My parents signed me up for piano, dance and voice lessons when I was five and I have been singing ever since.

I can't remember precisely when opera became my life's passion; I think that it is because large, intense music has always been close to me. I began singing opera when I was 16, and at that point I had a hope that it would become my career, but, as any 16-year-old should, I had many lofty ambitions for my future self. Opera is a long-form art; it is a process, and to be an opera singer is a protracted endeavour. 

One of the things I love most about opera is the commanding power of the narrative throughout its sensory facets. The total, aggregate nature of opera is truly irresistible. In many ways it is the ultimate art; exposing the senses to the total power and fragility of the human body.

If you weren’t pursuing a career in opera, what would you be doing instead?

Somewhere between massage therapist, yoga teacher, stage director, make-up artist, animal rescuer, interior designer, writer, and nanny. But who's to say you can't be all of those things?! Certainly not all at once, but we shall see where life takes me.

What are your hobbies, interests, other projects, outside of opera?

I have been practicing Moksha (hot) yoga for seven years. The combination of dynamic physicality and deep meditative practice is essential to my daily life. I have been a Moksha yoga ambassador, both here in Toronto and in Montreal, for three years.

I am an avid reader. My favourite book is A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali, a historical fiction account of the simultaneous, but nearly uncorrelated destruction of Rwandan genocide and AIDS in the same country. 

I adore poetry. I'm particularly smitten with Shakespeare, but I am also partial to Robert Frost and James Joyce. I also have an encyclopedic knowledge of The Simpsons

Learn more about Samantha from her blog, The Emerging Project at, and follow her on Twitter at @SamoSoprano

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit, call COC Ticket Services at 416-363-8231 or visit the Four Seasons Centre Box Office (145 Queen St. W.).

To buy competition tickets, click here.
To buy Under 30 competition tickets sponsored by TD, click here.
For more information about the the Centre Stage Dinner event and how to purchase tickets, please contact the PC Office at 416-363-5801

Posted by Kiersten Hay / in Centre Stage / comments (0) / permalink

Sara Fulgoni in the COC production of Bluebeard's Castle. Photo: Michael Cooper © 2001



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