Parlando: The COC Blog


Meet the Ensemble Studio Competition Finalists: Rachel Wood

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.

Rachel Wood, mezzo-soprano

The life of an opera singer can mean a lot of time spent living out of a suitcase and that’s certainly true for London, Ontario native Rachel Wood. 

In the last few years, Rachel's career has taken her across Europe and the United States. She spent last year in Amsterdam as an ensemble member of Opera Studio Nederland, has studied at the Centre for Opera Studies in Italy and the Accademia Europea dell’Opera, and is currently continuing her vocal studies at Indiana University. And while she’s not fluent, along the way, she’s picked up bits of Italian, French, German and even Dutch! According to Rachel, taking Italian lessons in Amsterdam alongside native Dutch speakers was “quite an experience.”

Despite all her travels, Rachel still calls London home and it’s the city where she first discovered opera.

“For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a performer!” she says. “I come from a very musical family – both my parents are music educators – so I studied piano and oboe, and sang in choirs when I was younger.” She also began private voice lessons when she was 13 years old. Rachel’s first performing experiences were through her high school’s musical theatre productions and The Grand Theatre’s High School Project, a program that allows students in London to perform musicals in a professional theatre setting. It wasn’t until she was cast in University of Western Ontario productions during her undergraduate studies at the UWO that she began to seriously pursue an opera career.

“It’s an incredibly powerful medium,” Rachel says of opera. “I really can’t think of any other art form that’s as all-encompassing or has the transformative power of opera.” She finds the physicality of singing, especially when performing with an orchestra, “exhilarating!” She’s equally awed when sitting in the audience. “I come to the opera to be moved, inspired and transported, even if it’s only for a little while.”

Rachel’s operatic credits include Lucretia in The Rape of Lucretia and La Natura/Endimione in La Calisto (Opera Studio Nederland); Zita in Gianni Schicchi (Opera Experience Southeast and Indiana University Opera and Ballet Theater [IUOBT]); Penelope in Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria and Madame Croissy in Dialogues des Carmélites (Accademia Europea dell’Opera); Dorabella in Così fan tutte (IUOBT); and Cornelia in Giulio Cesare (Centre for Opera Studies in Italy).

She doesn’t have a dream role yet, but she’s fascinated by the strong, dramatic female characters of the mezzo-soprano repertoire. “In portraying these types of characters, it gives the singer the opportunity to explore different aspects of their personality or to become a completely different person on stage,” Rachel says. “They provide the singer with numerous opportunities for dramatic exploration and freedom.” Right now, Rachel can’t imagine pursuing any other career, but when she has spare time her interests outside opera include teaching, studying, travel, and spending time with family and friends.

To learn more about Rachel, visit her website:

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 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.

Photo: (banner) BT/A.

Posted by Danielle D'Ornellas / in Ensemble Studio / comments (0) / permalink

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



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