Canadian lyric coloratura soprano Jane Archibald is appearing with the COC this spring as Zerbinetta in Richard Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos, and her performances have gathered rave reviews in the press. Her debut solo CD, Haydn Arias, has just been released on ATMA Classique. She’ll also be returning to the COC next season singing the title role in our May 2012 production of Handel’s Semele.
She recently spoke with Gianmarco Segato, retail and editorial co-ordinator for the COC from her home in Austria.
GS: What led you to leave Nova Scotia where you grew up, to study at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario?
JA: I knew I wanted to take singing pretty seriously and that I wanted a shot at having a real career. Everyone has a different path, so I’m not saying in any way that staying in Nova Scotia and going to a Maritime university would have prevented that, but at that point I wanted to be near a larger centre with lots of opportunities to attend concerts and operas and that kind of thing, where it was happening. But for me, the biggest determiner in terms of a specific university was my choice of voice teacher. I was singing in a Kiwanis Music Festival in grade 12 and someone mentioned to my voice teacher, something like “Who’s going to be looking after that voice next year? Because that’s a big responsibility!” That made me think that I should take my search for a teacher seriously, so in my limited way, I went about trying to find out who might be good, and Victor Martens was one of the names on the list. It may have been unusual, but even at 18, I went in with the idea that although I was the one auditioning, I was also auditioning my teacher. It had to be the right fit for me. I really paid attention to how it felt to sing and talk to this person. I sang for a number of schools but I just hit it off with Victor and it felt like the perfect fit. Since Wilfrid Laurier isn’t a huge school, and is primarily undergraduate, I got a lot of performing opportunities. And, I was still in Southwestern Ontario, able to drive to the COC and competitions as they came along.
GS: I think it’s quite unusual for an 18-year-old to demonstrate the kind of foresight you did to recognize the importance of finding the right teacher and that you wanted to make singing your career.
JA: Well, it wasn’t just me—I have to say my mother was a big help in that way. She played devil’s advocate asking me, “Is this really what you want to do?” She knew that it’s a hard career and she really wanted to make sure that I was very passionate about it, and I must have proven it to her because then she definitely got on board!
GS: Other than Richard Strauss who has obviously played an important part in your career thus far, which other composers’ music do you most enjoy performing?
JA: I love Mozart. What he writes is difficult to sing, but I wish I had more opportunities to perform his sublime music. I get lots of calls for the Queen of the Night, which is nice, but, speaking of one-dimensional characters, she’s one of them. I love singing Konstanze (The Abduction from the Seraglio), I did a Susanna (The Marriage of Figaro) once, I’d love to do that again. Of course, people don’t tend to think of me so much anymore for Mozart because I’ve made a name for myself specifically as a coloratura. I’ve only recently started putting my toe in the water of bel canto, but I adore singing it. I made three bel canto role debuts this past fall alone. I did my first Rosina (The Barber of Seville), my first Amina (La Sonnambula), and my first Lucia (Lucia di Lammermoor) and loved all of them. Especially Amina and Lucia, they really felt like warm maple syrup; they’re very nice for the voice, very good for the technique. However, I think if I only sang bel canto, I’d get a bit bored. I like the variety, switching from Donizetti to Strauss to Mozart. Always changing it up.
GS: What other future engagements are you looking forward to?
JA: I’m making my La Scala debut next fall in Der Rosenkavalier as Sophie, with Joyce DiDonato (as Octavian), and Philippe Jordan conducting. As far as concerts go, I’m doing Messiaen’s Poèmes pour Mi with the Berlin Philharmonic next March, which I’m really excited about. And also some Mozart arias in Salzburg next June in concert. And Brahms' Requiem with the San Francisco Symphony next fall.
For the rest of this interview, check out the Spring 2011 edition of the COC’s newsletter Prelude, which can now be found online. You can also see video of Jane Archibald performing at this link (click "Watch a Video" to the right of the photo).
Photo of Jane Archibald by Pierre Gautreau
Posted by Gianmarco Segato / in 2010/2011 / comments (0) / permalink
Sara Fulgoni in the COC production of Bluebeard's Castle. Photo: Michael Cooper © 2001