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.
For the Winnipeg-based soprano, opera is a family affair.
Lara’s father is responsible for introducing her to opera. “I was drawn to opera because of the quality time I spent with my father, starting when I was very young, listening to the Saturday afternoon radio broadcasts from the Metropolitan Opera,” she says. “My dad played the music so regularly in our house and I found myself drawn to the drama and acoustic aesthetic of this art form.”
Since falling in love with opera as a child, Lara has gone on to study vocal performance at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston and completed a master’s degree at The Juilliard School in New York.
Lara's credits include Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni (The Banff Centre); the American premiere of Alessandro Rossi's Ritual (The New Juilliard Ensemble); Giulia in La Scala di Seta (Juilliard); and Suor Genovieffa in Suor Angelica (Manhattan Opera Studio). She will also appear as Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos with Manhattan Opera Studio. But her dream role? She would love to play Violetta in Verdi’s La Traviata and the title character in Alban Berg’s Lulu.
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Soprano Karine Boucher, today’s featured finalist, recently graduated from the Atelier lyrique, l’Opéra de Montréal and was the youngest artist ever accepted into this training program! In 2011, she was also a regional finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.
Karine comes from Québec City, and holds both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from the Québec Conservatory. She began singing classical vocal music at the age of 11, but almost by accident. Her vocal teacher suggested that she try some classic songs, and Karine says, “I had no idea what I was doing when I said yes! Imagine, I was born in a family that almost didn’t know that opera existed... So it was for me and my family a wonderful and sometimes indescribable discovery.”
What Karine loves most about opera is “one moment in particular, the two seconds before the curtains open or the two seconds before I first put my feet on the stage,” she shares. She can’t imagine doing anything else with her life.
Karine’s past roles include Annina in La Traviata, Inez in Il Trovatore and Rosette in Manon (Opéra de Montréal); Miss Pinkerton in The Old Maid and the Thief and Micaëla in Carmen (Atelier lyrique); and Kätchen in Matrimonia Segreto (Québec Conservatory). She can’t pick just one dream role, specifying Verdi and Puccini as two composers that she especially loves. But she says that these roles require maturity. “So I have to be patient,” she adds.
In her spare time, Karine enjoys walking, aqua-jogging and improvisational theatre. Her first language is French and she also speaks English and Italian. Visit her website, like her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter to find out more!
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.
Nathan was born and raised in Charlottetown, P.E.I., completed his bachelor of music at the University of Prince Edward Island and still finds it hard to pry himself away. But he’s managed to do so long enough to attend the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, where he completed a master’s degree in Vocal Performance in 2012.
Before moving to Boston, Nathan says that his opera career “was not the original plan.” An accomplished theatre actor, Nathan portrayed Royal Gardner in Anne & Gilbert (Harbourfront Theatre) for three consecutive summers, and also played Edwin Simpson in Nine Lives, a musical about the life of L.M. Montgomery, for the Charlottetown Festival.
It was theatre that gave him a taste for performance, but opera that captured his imagination. “As my training continued at UPEI through the years, my amazing teachers, Stephen and Sung Ha Shin Bouey, introduced me into the world of opera, and with the help of YouTube I was soon a huge fanatic,” Nathan says. “What really draws me to opera is the culmination of such a focused singing technique while having the most dramatic of intentions and, on top of that, keeping up with the rich orchestral music underneath you.”
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Sara Fulgoni in the COC production of Bluebeard's Castle. Photo: Michael Cooper © 2001