End of 3rd week… Last week! :(

So many things to say about such an important week!

This past week was the hectic week of dress rehearsals, costume fittings, fight calls, you name it… It was a pretty busy week, but I always managed to do things outside of the schedule. On Monday, I went to get sushi with Phil, Rachel and Melody. Since I’m not much of a fish eater, I’ve never been a fan of sushi. They tried to convince me of trying it, but I was very hesitant. I ordered the beef teriyaki and chicken teriyaki rolls. They were pretty nice, though not as good as I expected. Then, after I was full, Rachel told me to try one of her sushi rolls. I decided to do so. Big mistake… I will not go into details, but I didn’t enjoy it at all. Afterwards, we went strolling down Spring Garden Road, and stopped at Il Mercato Trattoria (I think that’s the name!) for some delicious gelato. That was awesome!

On Tuesday, I can’t seem to remember what happened. All I know is there were many rehearsals. On Wednesday, most of the rehearsals were canceled, so I had nothing to do during the day. So I went back to my room and slept a while. Then, I went to facebook and saw that Allison Mills had posted a status, saying that it would be nice to have dinner out, so we immediately started planning, but had no idea where to go. Then, a few minutes later, I received a message that Nicholas, Tessa, Collin, Jennifer and her would go out for… wait for it… Sushi. I said to myself “Not again!!”, but just to spend time with the new people in my life, I went. There were non-sushi items on the menu, and that’s exactly what I got. Nicholas tried to convince me in trying other sushi rolls, but I just couldn’t. Now, I have to say… I’m awesome with chopsticks! It was my 2nd time eating with chopsticks, and never dropped anything! Then, we went to the waterfront for a little while, and we each headed to our homes.

Thursday and Friday were dress rehearsal days. Although there were still some difficulties, at least, in The Harpies, everything went pretty good, in my opinion. I mean, that’s what dress rehearsals are for. After the first dress rehearsal, we were all pretty hungry, so we headed to The Fickle Frog to have some dinner, and there was the cast of Carmen as well. So you can imagine a very long table full of opera singers. Lovely experience!

Friday’s rehearsal went pretty well also. Then, that night was opening night for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, by Benjamin Britten. I couldn’t go because I really had to do laundry, but I’ve heard many wonderful things about the show. On Saturday, I’m guessing that I did the same as many people did… Sleep late! I woke up exactly at noon! So I dressed up quickly, had a quick “breakfast” and went to see the opening of Carmen, by Georges Bizet. It was a beautiful show! Everyone did a great job! After the show, I quickly went for food, ‘cause I was green (I’m not sure if the same expression is used in English, but in Spanish, when we say “Estoy verde”, which literally means I’m green, it means we’re really hungry). Then I went home, to rest for my own big day.

Now is a good time to mention that this week, I’ve had a few problems with English! For the first time since I got here, I’ve accidentally started speaking Spanish, or at least mumbled a word or two, just to realize that most people won’t understand, and I have to stop and think about what I want to say. That’s why, at most times, I’m pretty quiet, because I’m listening to what I hear, and trying to think more in English. Because it’s really weird when somebody comes up to you while your eating and says “Buen provecho”, which is “Enjoy your meal.” Or somebody that hits you accidentally, and says “Ay, perdón. Mala mía”, which means “Oh, sorry. My bad.”

So… Opening day, huh? Yeah. I woke up early, took a shower, and left to have some breakfast at Coburg Coffee. However, when I woke up, I noticed that I felt the whole world twirling around me. I was really dizzy! I decided to ignore it and keep on moving, but as I walked, it was getting worse. I even feared falling down! When I got to Dalhousie Arts Centre, I sat in the dressing room, and all of a sudden, I had to rush to the bathroom to regurgitate. I don’t understand why, but I just did. But after I did, I felt so much better! I wasn’t dizzy anymore. I felt energized, and ready to start the show! We had our fight call, our curtain call rehearsal, and then, costume change. Then, I heard Tessa’s sweet voice… “Places, everyone!” It was time. I wasn’t really nervous, but more anxious to get out to the stage and show everybody what I’m capable of doing. I really wanted to do a good job. Everything went great! The audience was lovely, and laughed a lot during The Harpies and Gisela in her Bathtub. Then, they cried with Riders to the sea. It was a magical two hours in Studio One. I just can’t wait for my next performance… I’m thirsty for more!!!

I just want to end this blog post by thanking the administrative team of HSOW for giving me the opportunity of being part of this wonderful workshop. Tessa, Jennifer, Bonnie and Steven, thank you so much for your time, effort and patience. And last but not least, all my fellow singers on stage and in other productions. This has truly been a wonderful experience for me, and I hope to come back soon!

Just in case, this isn’t my last post. I know those last few sentences make it seem so, but it isn’t.

See y’all!

A Midsummer Night’s Dream review in The Coast by Kate Watson

HSOW’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream

A memorable take on an old favourite

Posted by Kate Watson on Sun, Aug 5, 2012 at 2:26 PM


While I may not be an out-and-out opera buff, I am eternally grateful to Halifax Summer Opera Workshop for introducing me to the delights of some accessible works over the past few years. And as of now, their latest production, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, has risen to the top of my “favourites” list.

The opera, written by Benjamin Britten, is pure magic. Britten’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s Dream focuses primarily on the machinations within the fairy world, and his music seems intrinsically right for that world.

And while this is show filled with high points, but I’ll give you three just to whet your appetite: Oberon (played by Andrew Pickett) is delightfully perverse and his queen Tytania (Allison Nicholas) is sensuous and exotically beautiful. The pair, along with the fairy crew, close the show with the most haunting and lovely piece of music. Shilpa Sharma as Hermia and Ashley Buckhout as Helena bring down the house with their height-based cat fight. And the mechanicals… well what can I say except funny, funny, funny.

I’ve seen many productions of Dream, but I know this will always stand out for me.

There are two more chances to see this show (one with this cast, one with another) as well as opportunities to see HSOW’s two other offerings Carmen and One Act Operas.

Check out http://halifaxsummeroperaworkshop.com/ for dates, times and prices.

read the original online at The Coast

Photos from the dress rehearsal of the Port cast of Dream in Halifax

Here are some photos of the first cast of Dream — production and costumes designed by Nina Scott-Stoddart.

Milena Bolaños, Joelle Lehoux and Meg Gandle


Hermia (Nicole Stellino) confronts Helena (Chelsea Mahan)


Oberon and Tytania from Britten's Midsummer Night's Dream
Tytania (Fréderique Drolet) and Oberon (Albert Montanez)
Mustardseed (Sabrina Romero), Peaseblossom (Milena Bolaños), Bottom (Jeremy Hirsch) and Tytania (Fréderique Drolet)
Thisbe (Max Zander)

All photos copyright Emily Jewer


The Prairie Perspective #3 — Learn

Dear friends,

This past week has been quite an adventure for me, and I want to share my struggles and triumphs with you.

In every new city one encounters that there are unspoken rules, local ways of doing things that you can only become familiar with in time. There are also natural rules that change drastically from west to prairie to east coast. These rules, I assure you, are tried and true.
Here are some of those rules in random order of importance:

1. Never travel to a city located beside a body of water without an an umbrella. You will get caught in a torrential downpour and the rain will wash all of your mascara down your face, making you look slightly more “Dark Knight” than is socially acceptable. Every time.
2. In Halifax, cars will stop for you at a cross-walk no matter how fast they are going, how far away they are. J-walking is unnecessary and if attempted you will be honked at and nearly hit by the one and only mean driver in Halifax in the shiny blue Toyota Corolla. Fact.
3. It is a habit of mine to take a new route to a recurring destination each time I go. You never know what cool gems (stores, historic sites, landmarks, friends) you will find on the way. When attempting this the first couple of times, be sure one’s phone is charged and GoogleMaps is accessible, for indeed you may find far more gems and spend far more time with them than you expected.
4. As a general rule, wait no less than one hour to decide that you are hungry after eating again and ordering a giant poutine from Smoke’s. You will not finish that poutine, and you will figure out it was probably a bad idea.
5. The McLobster is not a myth. It exists. It is a real thing.
6. Always go to used bookstores first, when looking for a specific book. For in sooth, after four new bookstores and a new book later, you will walk into Coburg Coffee and see the book you wanted on the “book exchange” shelf.
7. The Universe has a good sense of humor. Laugh with it when things like the aforementioned events happen to you! But maybe not when they happen to other people. Be a bit more sensitive in those situations…

Random life lessons are not the only things I have learned this past week. I was fortunate enough to participate in a masterclass with the wonderful Lorna MacDonald a couple of days ago, and was blessed with the insight and observations of this very smart woman. I think I was most inspired by her constant focus on the positive. She would only mention a bad habit or something that wasn’t quite working for me and the other participants, after we had felt what it was like to be on the other side of it. It was never “you need a brighter sound” or “your breath should be deeper.” It was “this is where you are right now, and that’s totally fine! Let’s see if we can make it even better and explore some things to see what those feel like.” In the same way as you find out eating poutine is a bad idea an hour after brunch, you wonder why you are struggling to sing one way after you feel how good it feels to not eat poutine with a full stomach…I mean after you have experienced an easier way of singing… I feel blessed to have worked with Lorna and see the processes she took the other participants through as well.

Finally, I have fallen in love. With Shakespeare and Britten. The Port cast dress rehearsal forDream is today, and I couldn’t be more excited. This is truly a special work of art, both in dramatic and operatic literature. The music of Britten brings to life the brilliant words of Shakespeare and I don’t know how he did it, but the magical and mystical quality of work springs to life. The lighting, costumes and casts of this show makes it something to revel in. Watching the cue-to-cues was like being inside the most beautiful otherworldly place imaginable, and I was only in the audience! When you see the product of the hard work put into this show, it’s like having a secret gem tucked away in your mind. You want to share it, but also keep it for yourself. That is what I love about live theater. You can share it, but there are always the scenes, arias, monologues, ironies, etc, that you can keep hidden in your mind and recall when you want to be translated back to another time.

As the Beatles say, “And our friends are all aboard, many more of them live next door and the band begins to play, we all live in a yellow submarine…”

Although we don’t all live in a yellow submarine, literally, (or figuratively really…) My fairy friends are currently at the theater now, getting into costume. Greg Myra, I’m sure, is ready to be our band at the piano, and the Starboard cast is getting ready to support us and watch our dress rehearsal, just as we will do for them tomorrow! If theater is an ocean, and Shakespeare is a submarine…I suppose Britten’s opera would be the…yellow one…? Aaaaannnnddd Epic Fail to assimilate the Beatles, Shakespeare and Britten. But they’re all British!! Ahhh TRIBOND! (did anyone play the board game?) Ok, I’m rambling. I’m just way too excited to start getting into make-up and costume!