• Meet the 2018 Centre Stage Finalists

    By COC Staff


    On November 1, 2018, Centre Stage: A Night of Voices will transform the stage of the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts into an arena for the COC Ensemble Studio Competition. Eight of the most talented young Canadian singers will gather in Toronto for a chance at prizes, as well as chance to join the prestigious COC Ensemble Studio.

    Let's meet this year's finalists.



    MATTHEW CAIRNS
    Tenor | St. Catharines, ON



    What inspires you about opera?

    I love that no matter how old a story is, one can always connect to certain themes and emotions that are ever present in our everyday lives.

    What is your dream role?
    There are many roles currently that I aspire to sing one day. One role that I hope to sing in the future is Calaf from Puccini’s Turandot.

    Who would you most love to share the stage with, living or dead?
    I would love to share the stage with Plácido Domingo, as his dedication to his craft is unparalleled. It is an astounding accomplishment to perform over 150 roles; the knowledge and experience gained would be an overwhelming achievement.

     



    VANESSA CROOME
    Soprano | Nanaimo, BC


    What inspires you about opera?
    Opera pushes the boundaries of the human voice and the human psyche. I also find it amazing how the music and libretti, oftentimes written hundreds of years ago, have the power to move people and speak to their most inward emotions.

    What is your dream role?
    The answer to this question seems to change weekly. Right now it would be Juliette in Gounod's Roméo et Juliette or Lulu in Berg’s Lulu, but always, always, always, Baby Doe in Moore’s The Ballad of Baby Doe.

    Who would you most love to share the stage with, living or dead?
    This would have to be a list of friends that I dream about getting the chance to sing with again; making music with people you love feels like your heart is being given a big hug. I’ve also always fantasized about singing with Lucia Popp, Barbara Hannigan, Adele, Kristin Chenoweth, and Michael Bublé.



    AARON DIMOFF
    Bass-baritone | Owen Sound, ON



    What inspires you about opera?
    Opera is the absolute pinnacle of musical expression and achievement. To be the student of an art form which articulates the most primal and raw human emotions through so elegant a medium is both humbling and inspiring.

    What is your dream role?
    Wotan. Fantastically complicated, compelling character. As a father, I feel I can empathize with him.

    Who would you most love to share the stage with, living or dead?
    George London. I've always wished I could hear that titanic voice live.  

     



    VARTAN GABRIELIAN
    Bass-baritone | Toronto, ON


    What inspires you about opera?
    I am inspired by the intensity of the live operatic art form and the immense athleticism involved in great singing – it is the Olympics of operatic singing and the mental, physical and emotional challenges one faces to be a great artist. The ability to stir the souls of an audience with the operatic voice is like nothing else in life.

    What is your dream role?
    My dream role is the title character in Arrigo Boito’s Mefistofele.

    Who would you most love to share the stage with, living or dead?
    I would LOVE to share the stage with the great Feodor Chaliapin. Anyone who knows his story would undoubtedly feel the same.



    JAMIE GROOTE
    Mezzo-soprano | Oakville, ON


    What inspires you about opera?
    My inspiration lies first and foremost within the communicative nature of the voice. Being the only instrument with words at its disposal and given the innate way the body responds to tone, I believe the voice has a unique ability and responsibility to connect with the music and our audiences in a visceral way. With this mindset, singing has the potential to be a vehicle for compassion and empathy and can truly change the world. It is such a privilege to connect with the most innately human parts of my audiences and that is truly inspiring. We need more connection in our lives these days.

    What is your dream role?
    I would be absolutely thrilled to sing Octavian one day. Strauss is an absolute master and the way he sets his music so texturally is really incredible to me. I also love the honest relationships in the opera; I think it is truly beautiful.

    Who would you most love to share the stage with, living or dead?
    I would absolutely love to share the stage with Jessye Norman or Anne Sofie von Otter. They are both such incredible artists and I have idolized each of them for my whole singing life. However, I had better be cast in a small role because I’m clumsy enough as it is and would be likely to fall over with excitement.



    ANDREA LETT
    Soprano | Prince Albert, SK


    What inspires you about opera?
    I love possibilities that are open and available with opera. Every intricate moving piece has the opportunity to be exceptional – even down to the tiniest of details. What inspires me most is seeing how much people care about the ease of a scene change, the detailing on a collar, and the nuance of a phrase. Small details that on their own might seem insignificant, but when everything comes together, it is honestly magical. There are truly no small parts.

    What is your dream role?
    I would love to sing Madame Mao in John Adams’ Nixon in China. I think she is FIERCE.

    Who would you most love to share the stage with, living or dead?
    My stepson Jackson is quite the stage animal, (obviously I’m biased). At the age of four he has a pretty solid rendition of “Let it Go” – I have the video footage to prove it. If I could somehow get to share the stage with him that would be pretty special.


    ROCCO RUPOLO
    Tenor | Toronto, ON


    What inspires you about opera?
    Opera uses the human voice and the voice of the orchestra to communicate meaning that goes beyond spoken words. When you stay true to the music, all of the dramatic elements come together to create something special and unique every time.  

    What is your dream role?
    My dream role is Rodolfo in Puccini’s La Bohème, which I had the great fortune of performing this summer with Highlands Opera Studio. When I first opened the score, I had an immediate connection to the character and to the music. I felt that through this role I learned a lot about myself and my voice. I look forward to singing this role many more times throughout my career.

    Who would you most love to share the stage with, living or dead?
    The person that I would have loved to share the stage with is Luciano Pavarotti. He is considered to be the greatest tenor of his time and the opportunity to perform and to learn next to someone of that calibre would be life-changing.



    NOELLE SLANEY
    Soprano | Centreville, NL


    What inspires you about opera?
    I love that opera has the ability to transcend time and space; that it can be reinvented over and over again to make music and stories from hundreds of years ago relatable to audiences today.  I think now more than ever it's important to be able to say something with our music and we are seeing this much more in modern opera productions.

    What is your dream role?
    At the moment, I have two: Manon from Massenet's Manon and Ophelia from Thomas' Hamlet. Both characters portray very real human emotions and singing roles that do this is something that has been very cathartic for me.

    Who would you most love to share the stage with, living or dead?
    For a very long time, it has been my dream to share the stage with Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day. While he isn't a classical musician, he is one of my biggest inspirations and his honesty and activism have informed my own music making and identity as a performer. As musicians, I think we have a duty to use our music to effect change and this is something that I really respect about Billie Joe.



    Thank you for joining Centre Stage: A Night of Voices on November 1,  2018 at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.

    For more information, please visit COCCentreStage.ca

    Banner photo: Simone McIntosh wins First Prize at Centre Stage 2016, by Michael Cooper.

    Posted in Centre Stage

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