One of Ottawa’s leading actresses discusses our Studio Program

Opera Lyra Studio training program: Alix Sideris

A few years back, I was approached to facilitate some workshops for the participants of the Opera Lyra Studio training program. Having an incredible respect for the art form and it’s artists, I began to seriously consider what it was exactly that I could offer in terms of training. What tools could I offer that could benefit the emerging opera singer … what curiosities and skill sets were not commonly massaged at higher education training institutions … what could i offer that could augment and cultivate the stronger artist within. Delighted, I created a program that could inspire, provoke and propel each student toward a fuller understanding of their impulses, their body engagement, and acting technique.

Opera singers are truly unique artists. They have such access to emotive honesty. If they allow it, the music can hold their hand (hearts) as they navigate through the story. The dramatic tension is often right there, offered to them on a platter in form of notes and arias. Music’s true nature rests in it’s vibration. Whether it be a singular note or an entire composition, music moves though the body and demands a visceral response. Imagine, then, the access the opera singer naturally has to the world of emotive and expressive availability.

I am passionate about assisting in bridging any gap or disconnect that may exist between the opera singer and this emotive and expressive access. My heart soars when I witness authentic gesture and emotion on stage. And I take great joy in making it my glorious responsibility to help the artist reach the heights of their expressive potential.

I encourage the artist to listen … to the body … responding to impulses – every one of them (even if that means flagging the more inappropriate ones!), listening to one another, deeply understanding what it is you are saying and why you are saying it (how one is intending to effect change in your partners on stage) and most importantly … feeling connected to your breath and whole body at all times. In essence, helping the artist tap back into that emotive availability.

In my years of teaching at the Opera Lyra Studio, I have been met by very talented young artists who have been incredibly keen to learn and push themselves to that next level. Often surprised by how much of their bodies they have been ignoring and how limited their storytelling has been because of it, it seems that their creative world simply opens up the moment they recognize that they have breath and bodies to aid them in their expression. It’s always exciting to witness this evolution.

The great ones, the opera divas that have changed the way we hear and see opera … they have had to learn so much on their feet … at work … having watched, tripped, taken risks and mastered their craft. Here’s a chance, perhaps, for some emerging artists to pick up some of those important skill sets ahead of the game! And I feel honoured and incredibly blessed to play some part in that glorious growth.

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