CBC Nova Scotia’s Information Morning featured Opera Backwards on its program. Listen to it here.
Liane Heller from Halifax’s Local Xpress came down to visit the participants and staff at the Halifax Summer Opera Festival to talk about our show to celebrate Pride, Opera Backwards. Read it here.
Though she is the daughter of two classical musicians, Katerina Utochkina began to explore rock music in her teens. Her father, a bassoonist, encouraged her love for rock by teaching her to play the guitar. But Utochkina realized that she felt most passionate about the classical music that she grew up around in Saint Petersburg, Russia.
Utochkina arrived in Toronto at 18-years-old. Right away, she and her mother searched for a place where she could pursue her love for classical singing. Her mother, a flautist who played in the orchestra at several Saint Petersburg opera houses, encouraged her to apply to the Glen Gould School of the Royal Conservatory of Music; in 2015, Utochkina graduated with a performance degree from this school, gaining experience in both music and theatre.
“Your whole body becomes an instrument for expression,” she said. “I don’t think it gets more exciting than this!”
In the 2016 Halifax Summer Opera Festival, Utochkina will play both Zita in Gianni Schicchi and Suor Osmina in Suor Angelica. Both these roles are very different from Utochkina, but she’s excited for the challenge. She usually prefers to play roles who she has a personal connection to, such as the feminine yet tough female roles common in Rossini operas.
Soprano stars, such as Anna Netrebko, Joyce Didonato or Sondra Radvanovsky, who have mastered Rossini roles, inspire Utochkina. However, she also admires musical theatre stars, like Idina Menzel or Lea Salonga, because they, too, bring emotional depth to their work.
“Opera is an undying art form, it explores the depth of the human emotion that people can still relate to hundreds of years later,” she said. “Our audiences have a lot of choices and for them to choose opera, it needs to stand out from the rest of the entertainment by being what is has always been: exceptionally profound, grand, displaying a wide range of human emotion through the drama and heightened expression that it known for.”[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type=”1_3″][et_pb_blurb admin_label=”Blurb” url_new_window=”off” use_icon=”off” icon_color=”#94b594″ use_circle=”off” circle_color=”#94b594″ use_circle_border=”off” circle_border_color=”#94b594″ icon_placement=”top” animation=”top” background_layout=”light” text_orientation=”left” use_icon_font_size=”off” use_border_color=”on” border_color=”#000000″ border_style=”solid” background_color=”#000000″ custom_padding=”3px|3px||3px”]
Performance Diploma from The Glenn Gould School
Toronto Operetta Theatre
Summer Opera Lyric Theatre[/et_pb_blurb][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]
Most of Jocelyn Molnar’s family members can’t make it through “Happy Birthday” in one key, yet Molnar has no problems belting it out as Prima Sorella Ceratrice in the Halifax Summer Opera Festival’s production of Suor Angelica.
At the University of British Columbia summer music camp, Molnar was exposed to bel canto singing, and fell in love with opera. She now studies music at the University of Western Ontario.
“Staging an opera is very different than performing in concert, and I think watching my peers being directed and coached will be very enlightening for my own understanding of stagecraft,” Molnar said of HSOF.
Women in opera inspire Molnar. She admires sopranos Natalie Dessay and Diana Damrau for their diction and ability to transition seamlessly from heartbreaking to hilarious.
Molnar already has a list of funny women she has played and wants to play: Despina (Cosi fan tutte), Norina (Don Pasquale), Adele (Die Fledermaus), Papagena (Die Die Zauberflöte) and Marie (La fille du régiment).
“I’ve had chances so perform some of their scenes and arias, and I love how much room there is to be dynamic and memorable in comedic roles,” she said.
Sexist themes are apparent in some operas, but Molnar thinks that we ought to learn from these sorts of operas.
“I think putting emphasis on the prejudiced aspects of a work adds to the story and struggle of the characters,” she said. “When a director finds ways to draw strong connections and bring opera plots into contemporary times, such as changing the setting to highlight people or cultures that are being mistreated and discriminated against right now, they remind us that these are still active problems.”[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type=”1_3″][et_pb_blurb admin_label=”Blurb” url_new_window=”off” use_icon=”off” icon_color=”#94b594″ use_circle=”off” circle_color=”#94b594″ use_circle_border=”off” circle_border_color=”#94b594″ icon_placement=”top” animation=”top” background_layout=”light” text_orientation=”left” use_icon_font_size=”off” header_text_color=”#efefef” body_text_color=”#ffffff” background_color=”#000000″ use_border_color=”on” border_color=”#000000″ border_style=”solid” custom_padding=”|3px||3px”]
Bachelor of Music with Honors in Performance, University of Western Ontario
Expected graduation date: Spring 2017
Diploma of Classical Music, Capilano University
La Chauve-Souris/La Bergère in L’enfant et les sortilèges
Opera scenes gala with the Canadian Operatic Arts Academy