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.
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.
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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.”
Nathan’s opera roles include Colline in La Bohème (Cowtown Opera, Highland Opera Studio), Sarastro in The Magic Flute (Highland Opera Studio), the Mayor in Dr. Miracle (New England Conservatory) and excerpts of Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro, New England Conservatory). He says, “What I find the most enjoyable is becoming a completely different person than my everyday self. I'm really quite addicted.”
When he’s home on the Island with his friends, who are mostly rock musicians, Nathan goes to performances by local bands. He also enjoys playing around on YouTube, which he can do from anywhere.
Nathan doesn’t speak any languages other than English – yet – but looks forward to playing dramatic roles such as Wotan (Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen), and Scarpia (Puccini's Tosca). When asked why, he says, “The music is so rich and the characters are SO evil! I can't wait; give me 20 years and another 30 for Wotan.”
You can follow Nathan on Twitter or friend him on Facebook.
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Join us on November 26,
2013 as we launch the Centre Stage fundraising gala, a magical evening
dedicated to the discovery and celebration of the next generation of opera stars! An event unlike any other in Canada, Centre
Stage features the competitive vocal showcase of the COC’s Ensemble Studio Competition with a twist that
intensifies the already awe-inspiring display of operatic talent being fostered in this country. For the first time,
finalists in the Ensemble Studio Competition now perform from the mainstage of the Four Seasons Centre,
accompanied by the internationally acclaimed COC Orchestra conducted by COC Music Director Johannes
“I had been thinking of creating a gala fundraiser for the COC for some time already,” says COC General Director
Alexander Neef. “Seeing how the Ensemble Studio Competition has engaged the community in past years, the
timing was right to launch Centre Stage and make it the occasion to expand our audience with this much grander
showcase of Canada’s rising opera talent.”
“Centre Stage guests have the exclusive opportunity to experience live the vocal talent and artistry required to
command a stage and captivate an audience. Whether one is new to opera or a longtime fan, you can’t help but want
to support the operatic art form after having that kind of transformative moment unfold right in front of you,”
adds Neef. “The young artists we will be seeing on November 26 may someday perform with all the great opera
houses, including ours, and Centre Stage guests will be able to say, ‘I was there when….’”
All patrons who attend Centre Stage will enjoy a cocktail celebration in the Four Seasons Centre’s sparkling Isadore
and Rosalie Sharp City Room when doors open at 5:30 p.m., and the competition begins at 6:30 p.m.
The finalists for the 2013 Ensemble Studio competition are:
Tickets to the Ensemble Studio Competition and Centre Stage cocktail celebration are $100. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit
COCCentrestage.ca, buy tickets online, 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.). Chat about the event on Twitter with #COCCentrestage.
Photos: (middle, l-r) Owen McCausland, Claire de Sévigné, Alexander Neef, Lindsay Barrett and Sasha Djihanian at the COC's 2011 Ensemble Studio Competition. (bottom, l-r) Gordon Bintner, Charlotte Burrage and Andrew Haji at the COC's 2012 Ensemble Studio Competition. All photos by Chris Hutcheson.
Sara Fulgoni in the COC production of Bluebeard's Castle. Photo: Michael Cooper © 2001