Parlando: The COC Blog

8/27/2013

Catching up with Ensemble Studio member Danielle MacMillan

By Jennifer Pugsley, Media Relations Manager

Mezzo-soprano Danielle MacMillan is one of the new members of the Ensemble Studio for the 2013/2014 season. In fact, she just officially started with the company last week, as the Ensemble Studio artists began their schedule of rehearsals, vocal coachings, language and diction lessons and masterclasses. We wanted to find out what Danielle had been up to over the summer as she spent some time in bella Italia – Sulmona, Italy to be exact – studying at the Centre for Opera Studies in Italy.

What is the Centre for Opera Studies in Italy? What do you in this program?

The COSI Opera Ensemble program is tailored to select, advanced undergraduate and graduate singers, and emerging artists ready to build upon their existing performance résumé. Successful applicants come prepared to stage and perform assigned opera roles in an elite setting and with an international performance training team, designed to prepare the emerging artist for the professional opera stage.

In addition to Italian language classes taught by certified instructors from the English School of International Languages, each of us receives a series of one-on-one coaching sessions, voice lessons and Pilates bodywork. Additionally, the singers have masterclasses and forums twice a week. We also perform in various aria concerts in historical Sulmona, and in courtyard concerts in the Abruzzo region of Italy.

What was your favourite role or piece to perform so far?

Definitely playing the role of Annio in La clemenza di Tito. The whole opera is very human and therefore relatable.

Who were you most excited to meet or work with in Italy?

Coach and accompanist Nathalie Doucet-Lalkens. Five years have passed since I last saw her at York University, so I was really looking forward to working with her again, but mostly catching up! She’s a beautiful person and incredibly talented.

So what was your summer jam? Everyone always wants to know what music opera singers listen to.

A variety of genres. My choices in Italy were Michael Bublé’s new album, some Mumford and Sons, and some teenybopper music for the beach, like Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber.

You were in Italy for part of summer. Please say you had a chance to do some exploring!

I didn’t have much free time to head out of town. As I’ve traveled to Italy before, I wasn’t too worried about seeing everything, but I thoroughly enjoyed talking the train to Pescara to swim and sunbathe a couple of times.

Living out of a suitcase is part of the life of an opera singer. Having been away from home for a big part of the summer, what are your travel tips, especially when you’re going to a place like Italy?

Pack light! Opera can take you around the globe and expose you to new cultures, food, clothing, accessories… you’ll need some extra space in your bag for bottles of good olive oil, cheese, leather bags, shoes, scarves and vacuum-sealed meats.


You can catch Danielle performing with all of this year’s Ensemble Studio members in our Meet the Young Artists Free Concert Series performance on September 26, and alongside fellow member Claire de Sévigné, as one of Auntie’s Nieces in Peter Grimes.

Photos: (top) Danielle MacMillan at the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio Competition, 2012; (middle) A courtyard concert in Goriano Sicoli; (bottom) A weekly market in Sulmona. Photo credits: (top) Christopher Hutcheson; (middle, bottom) Danielle MacMillan.

Posted by Danielle D'Ornellas / in Ensemble Studio / comments (1) / permalink

Nathalie Doucet (9/1/2013 7:12:16 AM)
Dear Danielle, It was so lovely to hear you again and see how much you have progressed over the years!! I look forward to watching you grow through your upcoming experience with the wonderful COC Ensemble!! It was a true pleasure catching up with you again and watching you perform so beautifully in La Clemenza di Tito and in the Gala concert!! Have a wonderful year and enjoy every moment!

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