Our introduction to the 10 Ensemble Studio Competition finalists continues today with Montreal soprano Claire de Sévigné!
Claire received her master’s degree in opera from the University of Toronto and a bachelor’s degree from McGill University, with additional training at the Aspen Opera Program, Tafelmusik Institute, the Centre for Opera Studies in Italy, Institut Canadien d’Art Vocal, Brevard Opera and Opera NUOVA. Recent appearances include the title role in a workshop of The Enslavement and Liberation of Oksana G with Tapestry New Opera and Lucia in Lucia di Lammermoor at UofT. This season she will perform the role of Cleopatra in Giulio Cesare with Thirteen Strings Orchestra.
We asked Claire what drove her decision to become an opera singer, and here's how she responded:
"Why opera? Why not? I just tried it one day and have been in a love affair with opera ever since! I started singing and writing my own songs when I was in grade three. I told my parents that I wanted to enter into my elementary school talent show, and they asked me, “Whose song do you want to sing?” I said “My own!” And I’ve been singing ever since. I was never asked or told to sing by anyone. It was just something I did naturally. I was involved in a few choirs, rock bands, concert and jazz bands (on bass-clarinet and saxophone) piano lessons and musical theatre shows in high school. When it came time to apply for CEGEP (the Quebec schooling system between high school and university) I had to choose which program I wanted to go into. I knew that it would be a music program; I just didn’t know which instrument I would focus on. I decided that singing was my favourite, so I studied privately for a year and was accepted into Marianopolis College. It was there, when I was 17 years old, that I saw my first opera in Montreal, Norma by Bellini, and I fell in love.
After that I started renting and watching operas from the school library and began to ask my teacher which arias I could start working on. After doing my bachelor's and master's degrees, among many other operatic summer training programs, I can’t see myself doing anything else but singing opera. I am deeply drawn to the stories and traditions of the art form and find myself endlessly enchanted with the complex characters and amazing musical writings that the opera world and its composers have to offer. I love immersing myself into the world of these characters through some of the most beautiful music ever written, because when I do it feels like I’ve engaged in something that is important and meaningful. I sing because it never ceases to inspire me. A day without inspiration is a day I must have forgotten to practice."
We also asked her about her side projects:
"One of my greatest side interests is teaching. I love working with children and getting them interested in music. They can have so much perspective on what I’m teaching and it’s really refreshing to learn with them. From an early age I have loved the water and most aquatic sports and activities. I also enjoy having coffee with friends at new shops around the city as well as cooking and throwing dinner parties."
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Sara Fulgoni in the COC production of Bluebeard's Castle. Photo: Michael Cooper © 2001