The dream of seven aspiring opera singers just got a little brighter. The Canadian Opera Company has announced the annual Centre Stage: Ensemble Studio Competition to take place on October 30, 2019, at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.
The 2019 Ensemble Studio Competition finalists are:
- soprano Kirsten LeBlanc (Moncton, NB)
- soprano Midori Marsh (Cleveland, Ohio)
- soprano Charlotte Siegel (Toronto, ON)
- mezzo-soprano Sarah Bissonnette (Boucherville, QC)
- tenor Marcel d’Entremont (Merigomish, NS)
- bass-baritone Alex Halliday (St. John’s, NL)
- bass Brenden Friesen (Langham, SK)
First launched in 2011, the competition has become an important springboard for young Canadian opera singers looking to further their careers.
Prizes include $10,000 (first place), $3,000 (second place), and $1,500 (third place). The audience will also participate by casting a vote for the Audience Choice Award ($1,500), and the CBC Music Young Artist Development Prize, which includes a recording session to be broadcast on CBC Music’s Saturday Afternoon at the Opera. The first-place winner will also get the opportunity to perform at The Elora Festival, Ontario’s annual summer celebration of song.
The seven finalists were selected from a pool of 109 applicants, 72 of which were invited to participate at the preliminary live auditions held in Calgary, Montreal and Toronto. The final round will again be hosted by opera luminary Ben Heppner, and is open to the public. Each singer will be asked to perform a single aria for the judges, accompanied by the acclaimed COC Orchestra led by COC Music Director Johannes Debus.
“The Ensemble Studio Competition is always one of the most exciting events of the season — for both the judges and the audience,” says COC General Director Alexander Neef. “It’s a joy and a privilege to be part of a singer’s journey from the very beginning, which is why we open up this process to the wider community.”
Judges include Jeffrey Remedios, president and CEO of Universal Music Canada, COC Director of Artistic Planning Roberto Mauro; COC Director of Access and Training Nina Draganić; Head of the COC Ensemble Studio Liz Upchurch; and Canadian soprano and the Ensemble Studio’s Head Vocal Consultant Wendy Nielsen,
CBC Music Executive Producer, Alison Howard, will select the winner of the CBC Music Young Artist Development Prize.