It has been a full and exciting autumn here at Opera Lyra. I arrived in September eager to meet my fellow singers, as well as the impressive artistic staff we would be working with for the next 10 weeks.
Our very first day was a dive into acting with the outstanding Alix Sideris. Her unique and personal approach to acting for singers made a significant impact on me over my weeks working with her. There is a stereotype that opera singers are just that; singers first, actors second, at best. Alix insists on more from singers than just presenting the musical ideas, and inspired us to do our very best emotional work through the scores we were presented with.
Soon we were hard at work with a semi-staged version of Cosi fan Tutte. Having sung this opera twice before, I used this opportunity to work the role more dramatically and with a more detailed and fresh approach. Mozart is like medicine, a teacher of mine once said, and it was a fantastic mini-production all around.
Then on to french opera scenes, to be presented at the French Embassy. At a fantastically elegant evening, we studio members presented various French arias and scenes for a very responsive audience. Madame Delattre was a most gracious host and presented with us a wonderful evening of French opera.
We’re now in the midst of the school tour of our main production, Hansel and Gretel. The “meat and potatoes” of this year’s opera studio, Hansel and Gretel is presented in an adapted version by Ann Hodges, geared towards an audience of children; future opera fans we hope! Our two weeks of preparation under the direction of Ms. Hodges were weeks of development, discovery and dramatic commitment.
My experience of Hansel and Gretel has been one of great pleasure and great learning. I was given the task of presenting two very different characters, both quite hilarious and possibly horrible in their own ways. Playing the Mother and the Witch required some vocal resourcefulness, some acting choices and most of all, some very quick costume changes. Preparing these roles has been both a rewarding and enjoyable experience.
My time here with Opera Lyra has been one of great learning, music and comradeship. These things could not be possible without an impressive staff and organizational team, not least of who is Ms. Judy Ginsburg. I must mention that Ms. Ginsburg has gone above and beyond to help the singers in all areas, devoting (and often denoting) her time to any particular needs we may have. Her tireless efforts have impacted us all.
I look forward to my remaining time as the Mother and the Witch, and my time here in Ottawa, with Opera Lyra. It has been a fantastic 10 weeks and I hope many Canadian singers continue to have equally rewarding experiences with the company in years to come.