Soprano Abigail Veenstra: featured 2017 Halifax Opera Festival artist

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Lady Billows in Britten’s Albert Herring

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“This is the first summer I have ever done a singer program, and I’m so honoured to have a role as large as Lady Billows!”

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Where are you from? How did you first get interested in opera or musical theatre? 

My father introduced me to music at a young age, and my mother is a visual artist. When they saw that I wanted to pursue music, they stopped at nothing to give me the training I needed to follow my passion, and I have been taking music lessons since I was 4. When I was 13, I wanted voice lessons but we couldn’t afford both, so my parents bartered to make sure I got my music lessons.

When did you start studying voice? Where are you studying now?

I started studying musical theatre voice at 13, the first year I moved to Canada for Africa. I have been singing in church choirs since I can remember. I started studying classical voice since the age of 16, and am now in my Master’s degree at Western University.

What came first for you, theatre or music?

Music, definitely. I have been in both plays and musicals for a very long time, but as I stated before, I have been studying music since the age of 4.

What are your dream roles?

I love big dramatic roles. Lady Billows actually was on my dream role list, which is exciting! I also would love to be Musetta, Manon, Mikaela, and any role that will have me!

 What arias, songs or entire roles belonging to other voice types would you like to perform?

I would love to do a pants role some day, including Cherubino. I also, if I was a baritone, would love to play Leporello!

Who are your favourite performing artists?

Right now, I am listening to Joan Sutherland and Joyce DiDonato. When it comes to casual music, I love Regina Spektor, Yes, and VV Brown! Any music is great!

What’s the most embarrassing song on your phone/tablet/streaming playlist?

The first ever song I bought on YouTube was TikTok by K$sha, which I now regret as my first legitimate purchase of music online.

How should we as interpretive artists deal with works that are racist and/or sexist? What can be done to make opera relevant to the next generation?:

Well, approaching these with caution always is necessary. Understanding the reality in which these works were created is also vital. Also, challenging views in the opera is a great way to battle these issues.

What are you most looking forward to about this summer?

Being in a professional role and learning the ins and outs of rehearsal, and also living in Halifax!

Thanks, Abigail!

Are you a participant or staff member this year? Why not submit your own answers to our questionnaire!

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