A rising voice in Canadian opera, Mezzo Rose-Ellen Nichols died of cancer this past Sunday at the age of 41. If you’re an opera lover in Vancouver, you’ve probably seen Nichols’ on the stage. Whether you knew who she was or not, her voice was extraordinary and carried a rich, agile tone which made her a stage favourite.
In addition to roles in Pacific Opera Victoria and City Opera Vancouver, Nichols sang the leading role in Pauline, a chamber opera from Margaret Atwood and Tobin Stokes at City Opera Vancouver. She was also pivotal to productions across Canada and beyond…
- Calgary Opera’s production Handel’s Ariodante
- Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi with Opera on the Avalon in Newfoundland
- Ireland’s Wexford Festival in productions of Puccini’s “Suor Angelica” and Menotti’s “The Old Maid and the Thief”
- Janacek’s “The Cunning Little Vixen” and Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin” in the Czech Republic
- Mozart’s “Così Fan Tutte” at the Estates Theatre in Prague
…and many more.
As a west coast Salish artist, Nichols was a rare champion for an Indigenous voice in opera. She sang the role of Native Mother in the critically acclaimed opera Missing, by Marie Clements and Brian Current. The work is inspired by the extent of the dangers Indigenous women face on B.C.’s Highway of Tears.
Her family set up a fundraiser in 2020 to help cover her bills and living expenses as she underwent cancer treatment. The fundraiser reached just over $14,000 CAD, with over 138 donations.
In a statement from Vancouver City Opera, they wrote “Our Rose passed away this morning, at Vancouver General Hospital. Her parents were with her, and holding her, at the end. No decision has been taken regarding a Memorial Service, nor any on the scholarship to be created in her name. We’ll let you know.”
Read more tributes, plus old memories from those who loved her most [HERE].
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