What she's doing with us: Hailing from Penticton, B.C., soprano Layla Claire makes her COC debut at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts as Fiordiligi in Atom Egoyan's brand new production of Mozart's romantic comedy, Così fan tutte.
Where you might have seen her: Well-known for her skills with Mozart's repertoire, Layla has performed a variety of roles onstage at Palm Beach Opera, Tanglewood Festival, Curtis Opera Theatre, Glyndebourne, Aix-en-Provence and at the Metropolitan Opera. While at the Met, she also performed the role of Helena in the world premiere of The Enchanted Island.
Her background: Layla earned an undergraduate and a master's degree from the University of Montreal, continued her studies at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia and took her talents to the Metropolitan Opera's Lindemann Young Artist Development Program. (Two of her Così co-stars, Paul Appleby and Wallis Giunta, also graduated from the Lindemann program.)
Interviews and profiles: Layla was featured in Opera News last year about her time spent at the Lindemann program, a Toronto Star article profiled her performance as Sandrina in La finta giardiniera at the 2012 Aix Festival, and she is featured in a coaching session with conductor James Levine in the PBS documentary, America's Maestro. Most recently, she participated in a Q&A in a CBC Music blog post about being awarded the illustrious Virginia Parker Prize by the Canada Council for the Arts.
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By Gianmarco Segato, Adult Programs Manager
For Episode 16, the “How do YOU define excellence?” edition, we welcome back opera journalist Joseph So, as well as opera blogger John Gilks. For the first time, Ali Kashani, the COC’s Associate Director, Institutional Gifts (and opera aficionado) joins the chat. Gianmarco Segato, the COC’s Adult Programs Manager is your host.
Several provocative opera stories stoked our fires this week:
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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.
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Sara Fulgoni in the COC production of Bluebeard's Castle. Photo: Michael Cooper © 2001