Digital Audio Series
Key Change is the COC’s new podcast, co-hosted by classical singer and culture critic Robyn Grant-Moran, a member of the COC’s Circle of Artists, alongside stage director, dramaturg and COC Academy graduate Julie McIsaac. Our bi-weekly episodes explore the operagoing experience from a variety of perspectives, offering a fresh take on today's opera issues with special guests from the opera field and beyond.
Episode 13: Opera & the Body
When it comes to great opera, where is the line between artistry and athleticism? This week on Key Change, we explore all things physical in an episode dedicated to opera and the body. Performance Kinetics Consultant Jennifer Swan and Canadian mezzo-soprano Krisztina Szabó join Robyn and Julie for a look at how singers “feel”, manage, and successfully engage their breath and bodies during performance — as well as some new, holistic ways that artists are being trained for opera performance.
Jennifer Swan is a Performance Kinetics Consultant for the Canadian Opera Company. She’s currently developing a syllabus for breath support that challenges traditional methods, based on technique developed from her extensive dance and pilates background. For over 25 years Jennifer has been the Director of Swan Studio Dance, in London, Canada. She’s also resident choreographer of the Toronto Children’s Chorus and has worked with the Centre for Opera Studies in Italy, the University of Toronto Faculty of Music, the Opera program at Indiana University and the Opera Workshop for Advanced Singers in St. Andrew’s, NB. In December 2016, Jennifer was a guest speaker at TedxToronto on “How To Build an Opera Singer.”
Hungarian-Canadian mezzo-soprano, Krisztina Szabó, is well-known to Canadian opera audiences. She began her career as a young artist in the COC Ensemble Studio and over the course of the last two decades she has appeared on the COC mainstage numerous times, most recently as Gertrude in Hansel & Gretel. Her pandemic performances have included livestreams with Tapestry Opera, Early Music Vancouver, Vancouver Opera, Behind the Keys for Vancouver Bach Choir and a world premiere performance for Azrieli Music Prizes Gala broadcast by Medici TV. She was recently appointed Assistant Professor of Voice and Opera for UBC School of Music.
Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir’s Carmen routine - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2201Jj512c
Jennifer’s work featured in COC’s “Day in the Life of the Ensemble” - https://youtu.be/1sKdYX0whEs?t=110
Jennifer’s work featured in “At Home with the Ensemble Studio” - https://youtu.be/2fsy7cdalqE?t=234
Sufjan Stevens’ “Should Have Known Better” - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJJT00wqlOo
Tom Waits’ “Wrong Side of the Road” - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sd42N-FdnOQ&list=PLpdbxtVTcmlDggHttd5M_usc0J6eNQEV6&index=6
One of Iain MacNeil’s acoustic renditions - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMYBL5VPqic
Krisztina preparing for the opening of Erwartung at the COC in 2015 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAusMev0Zp8
More on James Binkley, fight coach- https://www.northernstars.ca/binkley_james/
More on the Alexander technique - https://alexandertechnique.com/at/
Wagner’s "Ride of the Valkyries," performed by the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xeRwBiu4wfQ
Key Change theme music: R. Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier. Herbert von Karajan, conductor, with the Philharmonia Orchestra; Warner Classics, 1956
Carmen's Entrance and Habanera from Shchedrin's Carmen Ballet Suite after Bizet's opera. Mikhail Pletnev, conductor, with the Russian National Orchestra. Deutsche Grammaphon, 2001.
Opening scene from Schoenberg's Erwartung. Sara Jakubiak. Edward Gardner, conductor, with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra. Chandos, 2020.
The Ride of the Valkyries from Wagner's Die Walküre. Valery Gergiev, conductor, with the Mariinsky Orchestra. Mariinsky, 2013.
MEET OUR CO-HOSTS
Robyn Grant-Moran (Métis) is a classical singer, writer, and a jack of many trades who, in 2018 met the requirements to call herself a Bachelor of the Fine Arts at York University. That same year, Robyn participated in the Performance Criticism Training Program with Generator Toronto where she learned that theatre criticism can be used to push for more inclusive spaces and champion voices less heard and often misunderstood; so of course she fell in love. Since then, she’s been published in Alt.Theatre and Intermission Magazine, won the Nathan Cohen Award for Outstanding Emerging Critic, and joined the Canadian Opera Company’s Circle of Artists, to name a few. Robyn currently resides in Tkaronto (Toronto), weathering the pandemic with her wee rat dog in a box in the sky.
Canadian stage director Julie McIsaac was named the COC’s first Director/Dramaturg-in-Residence in 2019 and is now Lead Curator of Opera Everywhere, the company's reimagined 20/21 season. A versatile opera and theatre artist, her projects work towards reshaping and revitalizing the stories told on stage. During her residency with the COC, she served as Assistant Director on Joel Ivany's production of Hansel and Gretel (COC) and she is the Dramaturg and Director of the upcoming COC commission Fantasma, composed by COC Composer-in-Residence Ian Cusson with libretto by Colleen Murphy. Julie earned her Master’s degree in Theatre from the University of York (UK) and is also a graduate of Carleton University (Music) and the Canadian College of Performing Arts (Theatre Performance and Playwriting). www.juliemcisaac.com