For audience members
Yes! We’re selling season passes online before events start: you can purchase one on Ticket Halifax and we’ll have the pass for you to pick up at the first event. It’s transferable, easy to use and gets you into everything we do. The cost is $150.00 Canadian. If you don’t want to buy ahead, you can purchase it at box office before any event.
Yes! Our ticketing partner is the newspaper The Coast which runs Ticket Halifax. Tickets will be available at The Coast office at 2309 Maynard Street. You can pay by cash or debit here.
We will also be running box office in person an hour before every performance, at the venue the performance is at. We accept credit cards, cash and cheques at the door.
You can purchase tickets online using a credit card (Ticket Halifax) or by phone (902)-422-6278 ex. 500.
When buying tickets in advance online from Ticket Halifax, you can choose from the following options:
1. Physical tickets — Ticket Halifax will mail you your tickets free of charge if you order at least 10 days in advance.
2. “Will call” — we’ll hold your tickets at the box office at the event from an hour before curtain to just after the event starts. If you arrive late, you may be seated when there’s a pause in the program.
3. Print at home tickets — On your confirmation email you’ll be given the option to print your tickets using an ordinary printer.
4. Mobile tickets: — On your confirmation email you’ll be given an option for a mobile ticket.
General Information about HSOF
It’s a summer opera program in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada that runs for four weeks, giving singers (especially university undergrads, Masters’ students and young professionals) an opportunity to learn roles in the context of performing an entire, fully-staged opera. Masterclasses in dramatic and musical interpretation and auditioning are also a part of the process. Operas are double-cast as much as possible, with each participant receiving at least two public performances in a well-equipped theatre. Our focus is on improving dramatic and stage performing skills.
The change became official in 2013, but it’s been something we’ve been working on for some time. Now that we have three main stage shows plus extra concerts, and we perform in at least three venues, we do qualify officially as a Festival!
The Workshop part of it is still the heart of event, though.
You will see it referred to as HSOW still, in some places — this is either out of habit or because we’ve got used to pronouncing the acronym that way!
At HSOF we focus on each participant as an individual artist. It sounds corny, but we really mean it. There are many places you can go to study with higher profile faculty or to work with orchestra. What we do is give you all the support you need to grow, to take risks, to expand and to develop as a total performing artist.
We emphasize dramatic and stage skills at HSOF. Whatever level you arrive at, we’ll challenge you to go further.
HSOF is also one of the most truly supportive environments out there. Again and again our participating artists tell us that this workshop is one where they feel at home, comfortable and safe, free to grow and explore. There are no stars at HSOF, only artists, each of whom strives, at their own level, to get better and to support each other.
And we offer this experience at a price you can afford.
In 2018 our goal is to add extra orchestral musicians to each show, as our budget allows. In 2017 we had cello and two violins along with harpsichord to accompany the Cavalli (and we hope to do as well this coming year with the Monteverdi) and we added harp and percussion to the piano for the Benjamin Britten (we intend to perform Midsummer Night’s Dream with harp and piano). We’re going to try to add strings to the Mozart this year, as well!
We’ll have three special concerts — an Opera Backwards concert to celebrate Halifax Pride, a Cabaret concert and an evening exploring settings of W. H. Auden’s poetry. We may also present a regular noon hour concert series.
We’ll only have four masterclasses over the course of the entire workshop and only singers who don’t sing arias as part of their assigned roles will perform at them. This will free up a lot more time for other rehearsals or just down time. Nina will choose the masterclass participants herself.
There is no upper age limit for participants. We accept students younger than 18 for appropriate roles with their parents’ permission.
Participants will be selected from live auditions be held in Edmonton, Winnipeg, London, Toronto, Montreal, St John’s and Halifax or from recorded auditions for those too far away to audition in person. There are no age limits for this programme. Each role will be double cast, if possible and each participant will have at least two public performances of his or her role. All participants will be expected to arrive with their parts securely memorized, as if for a professional engagement.
The workshop will begin with a few days of music rehearsals and coachings, followed by a an intense week and a half of blocking and running the show. A typical day will include an acting warmup, then six hours of rehearsals at the Dalhousie University campus scheduled for the afternoons and evenings. As a break from staging, we’ll offer a series of masterclasses on dramatic or musical interpretation and auditioning techniques: each participant will have at least one slot in these masterclasses with guest artists and coaches.
Then we move into the theatres (the extremely well-equipped 235 seat Sir James Dunn Theatre on the University campus for Giulio Cesare and the marvellous Neptune Studio Theatre downtown for the operas accompanied by piano) for tech and dress rehearsals and the twelve performances (four of each show). Performances will be performed in the original language, with English surtitles for the added enjoyment of our audiences.
HSOF takes place in downtown Halifax, Nova Scotia, on the east coast of Canada. We rehearse and perform at the Fountain Arts Centre, home of Dal University’s Music and Theatre Departments. We perform the mainstage works at the Sir James Dunn Theatre and the David Mac Murray Studio Theatre, with other performances at The Bus Stop Theatre and Halifax Central Library.
Most of our productions are modern dress, largely for budgetary reasons. Like some other summer programs (SOLT in Toronto, for example), we often ask artists to provide the basics of their stage wardrobe. We send artists a list of our clothing suggestions a few weeks before the start of the program, so that they have time to sort out what they want to bring.
When special costume pieces are called for, or if a production is in period costume, HSOF provides whatever is required. Or, if an artist doesn’t have something on our list (we’ve encountered young gentlemen without suits, for example), HSOF will work out something.
To assure a professional experience, artists singing with HSOF work with professional stage management, technical, costume and props people. While no one will be asked to paint sets (unless they volunteer to help), sometimes staged set changes are part of the blocking, and singers will be asked to participate in these.
In 2017 we will move from offering each participant a slot in a masterclass to presenting just one masterclass per week of the Festival. Confirmed masterclasses include conductor Nicholas Gilmore and mezzo soprano Dr. Vicki St Pierre, along with an auditioning masterclass for more advanced students.
Costs of attending HSOF
If you need a place to stay in Halifax, we recommend first checking out sites for sublets. Even though you’d only be subletting for a month, there are often people who are happy to get even a month’s subletting over the summer. Here are some we found recently:
Or, if you prefer, you can try the summer residences at Dalhousie University::
There’s also summer residence accommodation at St Mary’s University (less than a km away from the Workshop location at Dal)
The workshop fee itself will be $1800 Canadian (with US$ accepted at par) for all roles, unless otherwise stated. In addition to the fee, you’ll need to get to Halifax (which is served by an excellent international airport and a well-maintained system of highways), find a place to stay here for the four weeks of the workshop, and pay for your food and entertainment.
HSOF offers a variety of scholarships and bursaries each year. These are given based both on financial need and merit. After submitting an application, a link and password are provided to HSOF’s financial aid form, which should be filled in if there is an expectation of financial need. EVERYONE who expects to need financial aid should fill out the form at the time of their application. Failure to apply prior to your audition date will exempt you from consideration for a scholarship (note: special exemptions may be made in specific cases involving extenuating circumstances such as the sudden loss of a supporting family member, loss of job, etc).
Please contact Chris Pelrine with any questions regarding HSOF’s scholarship program.
Applications and auditions
If the role you’re interested in is already in English and you’ve prepared an aria for it (i.e. “Ain’t it a pretty night” for Susannah or “Lonely House” for Street Scene” then you don’t have to offer a second English language piece.
There are two steps to applying to HSOF.
1. Sometime in the late fall of each year the online application form for the next year becomes available. Filling in that form is the first step.
2. On the form you’ll be asked whether you wish to audition in person or send in a distance application. If you select an in-person audition, we’ll contact you to schedule one.
If you select a distance application, you should go ahead and send us a CD or DVD audition, or digital files by the deadline.
There is a non-refundable CAN $30 application fee which helps us cover the increasing costs of processing applications, booking audition space, travel, etc. You are also responsible for arranging for and paying an accompanist if you choose to do a live audition in Edmonton, Winnipeg, London, ON, Toronto, Montreal, Halifax or St John’s.
The $30 fee also covers your application to the Yorkshire Opera Workshop, if you choose to apply.
If you’re applying for a specific principal role, the best thing you can do is prepare one of that role’s arias in the original language. It’s even more important if you want to be considered for any of the roles in opera that require extremes of range or flexibility. (If you want to be cast as Queen of the Night, for example, you’d better sing Der Hölle Rache!)
You will really help yourself if you prepare an aria in the original language for the role for which you wish to audition. Besides that, you are welcome to sing other songs which show off your voice, acting ability and personality — art songs, “operatic” musical theatre pieces, etc.
We know that some people don’t have any operatic repertoire ready. That’s fine. We cast the smaller roles from less experienced people all the time — in this case we’re looking for musicality, personality and intelligence. We’d rather hear you sing something you do really, really well than something that doesn’t fit you at all, or that you’re just not ready for.
Please bring your headshot (or snapshot) and your bio and/or resume. Make sure your name is on your headshot, either professionally printed on the front or written on the back.
You can bring letters of reference, if you like, but they are not essential.
Bring your music for the accompanist. The auditioners don’t need an extra copy.
You’ll be asked to fill in another form when you arrive at the audition venue.
All auditions, whether distance or live, are heard by Nina Scott-Stoddart, who casts all the shows (in consultation with other faculty). Sometimes at the live auditions you will only be singing for Nina, other times she will be joined by other stage directors or music directors. In October and November 2014 other confirmed faculty members attending auditions will include David Mosey (all live auditions), Andrew Pelrine (Toronto and London), Éric Charbonneau and Tara Scott.
Different auditioners look for different things. The artists I’ve cast in the past have caught my attention at the auditions through some combination of beautiful voice and dramatic ability. Some people are stronger in one area than another — being a really marvellous actor can make up for some inexperience in singing, and being a superb singer can definitely make up for lack of experience in acting. As HSOF attracts more and more applicants, the standards have become higher and higher.
Most importantly, I’m looking for nice people with a positive attitude and a willingness to work collaboratively with their colleagues and the artistic teams.
Nina listens to all the auditions, whether distance or live. There are distinct benefits to auditioning in person of course, but every year we do cast many, many roles from distance applications. You can increase the odds of being cast at a distance by:
1. Include video footage of your audition arias or links to videos. Make your video as much like an actual audition as possible.
2. Include a good covering letter telling us why you want to attend HSOF specifically. Give us a sense of your personality and interests — anything to help make your application more vivid will help!
3. Letters of reference can be a great help to us, if we haven’t worked with you before.