We’re pleased to welcome Michael Donovan as a masterclass leader for 2018

The Halifax Summer Opera Festival is delighted to announce that Michael Donovan, Associate Professor of Voice at Dalhousie University, will be giving a masterclass in vocal performance at the 2018 Festival.

Michael is an educator, voice teacher, performer, composer and musicologist with wide ranging interests in the areas of vocal pedagogy, opera performance, composition and research. He’s the co-founder of Toronto’s Long Reach Opera Workshop, now working on its 5th season.

Michael will be working with six participants of HSOF on Friday July 20, from 8 to 10 pm at the Dalhousie Arts Centre. We welcome auditors — please contact Nina Scott-Stoddart for more information about how to attend!




Lorna Macdonald returns to HSOF for masterclass and mini-workshop

Lorna MacDonald

Nova Scotian singer and vocal pedagogue Lorna MacDonald returns to the Halifax Summer Opera Festival in 2014 for two masterclasses and a special “Intensive Fix” workshop on vocal issues.  Lorna is always our top-rated masterclass technician and private teacher, with a justly-famed reputation for her combination of intuitive insight, creative problem solving and tremendously technical knowledge.

IF Only with Lorna MacDonald Soprano and Lois Marshall Chair in Voice at the University of Toronto.

So often pre-professional and young professional singers have a spurt of good luck and feel great about their singing and the trajectory of their careers. Then the blight hits where they are on a seemingly never-ending plateau, confidence sags, and sometimes it is difficult to know how to make change. IF the same nagging comment or feedback is following you from audition to audition, and IF you need to concentrate on an area of your singing or performance package in order to get off the plateau, here is your opportunity to change the scenario and get back in charge of your singing and confidence. Enrol for the Intensive Fix – IF at Halifax Summer Opera Festival this summer. For three days, a select group of pre-professional and young professionals will have the opportunity to work intensely with Lorna MacDonald, an inspiring voice teacher, expert diagnostician, and mentor. Sessions will be held both privately and in small groups. Make the time for your What IF.

Professor MacDonald enjoys a career of distinction as an active performer, voice teacher, Professor of Voice and the Lois Marshall Chair in Voice Studies at the University of Toronto. From 1994-2007 she served as Head of Voice Studies, and she is a recipient of Ontario’s prestigious OCUFA Award for “teaching excellence and outstanding contributions to university teaching”. MacDonald heads up a graduate program in Voice Pedagogy in which she combines the rich worlds of science, education and art to prepare a new generation of young singers and voice teachers.

Lorna teaches undergraduate and graduate voice majors at the University of Toronto, and she has a private studio of professional singers who are performing throughout Europe and North America, on Broadway, in film, Grammy and Juno nominated artists in popular music, art song and opera. A graduate of Dalhousie University and the New England Conservatory of Music, with additional studies in the US and Europe, she maintains strong ties with her birthplace in Port Morien, Nova Scotia.

Lorna’s Masterclasses at HSOF will take place July 23 and July 26 from 1 to 3 pm at Mount St. Vincent’s Seton Hall, room TBA.  For more information about attending these masterclasses as a spectator, please contact marja@halifaxsummeroperafestival.com

Tenor Ermanno Mauro to give masterclass at HSOF 2014

First of all, a little story. I had the pleasure of meeting legendary tenor Ermanno Mauro last fall, when I was in Toronto doing auditions for HSOF. His dear friend, Lorraine Stewart, had arranged our meeting so we could talk about our mutual interest in helping young singers learn to perform opera, and I made sure I was right on time. Nervous as hell, but right on time. From the moment he opened the door to his lovely home, I was enveloped in the kind of old-fashioned gallantry and courtesy that I believed had vanished from the earth — so the first thing I learned was that Ermanno Mauro is utterly and completely charming.

There is a hallway in his home on whose wall hangs row after row of press photographs of Ermanno in costume, mostly from The Metropolitan Opera. Most singers I know have versions of this kind of wall — mementoes of the roles we’ve sung and the places we’ve sung them. I had never, however, seem anything like this.

We made opera small talk as he prepared risotto for our lunch. It’s not quite small talk when you’re speaking with someone who made his Met debut filling in for Jon Vickers in Pagliacci, but Ermanno was ceaselessly polite, accepting my contributions to the conversation with grace and kindness.

The next thing I learned about Ermanno was that he is a helluva good cook. I would have accepted anything cooked for me by one of the greatest tenors of our time, but this was really, really delicious. Our conversation was hilarious — Ermanno is smart, funny and passionate about music. He also tells really good dirty jokes in a very gentlemanly way.

Ermanno is famous for not having wanted to do studio recordings, which is why he’s not as well known as his colleagues of the time. I had heard a recording he made with the Edmonton Symphony, and I had heard a number of snippets collected on YouTube from mostly pirated recordings of live performances, and I had grown to love the combination of power and supreme musical beauty his voice presented. At my request (I knew it was a bit tacky, but I was pretty much infatuated at this point) I asked him to play something. I can’t even remember what he played, but it was Verdi and it made me cry. Like a baby.

Out of this meeting and from Ermanno’s desire to help young singers, came his willingness to come to HSOF this year, give a masterclass, coach a small group of singers in the last act of La bohème and perform himself at a concert for us.

More details to follow, but the masterclass will be open (for a fee) to the public as will the concert, which will include the Mauro-coached and-directed last act of Boheme as well as the man himself.

And I couldn’t be happier to play a small part in bringing this great tenor to Halifax — he is an extraordinary musician and a truly inspiring man.


Ermanno’s Masterclass will be Thursday July 31 from 8 to 10 pm, place TBA.



Announcing masterclass with Suzie Leblanc for the 2014 Halifax Summer Opera Festival

HSOF is very proud to announce that our first masterclass of the 2014 season will be with Acadian soprano Suzie Leblanc. One of Canada’s finest performers, Ms Leblanc is internationally renowned for her recordings and live performances of both early and contemporary music.

Her masterclass on Baroque Style will be on Tuesday July 22, from 1 to 3 pm, at a location TBA.

For more information about attending this class as an auditor, please watch this website!  Most of our masterclasses this season will be open to the public.