Soprano Laura Nielsen, featured performer at 2017 Halifax Summer Opera Festival

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Micaëla in Bizet’s Carmen

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“I can’t lie and say it isn’t a blast being a soprano, but I really think I am a secret baritone. ”


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

I was born and raised in London, Ontario and grew up in a very musical family. My mother grew up singing and playing piano as well as studying voice at Western University, and my father also had a musical family growing up and plays the guitar and sings. They both really gave me such a wonderful musical upbringing and encourage me to this day. My dad’s father is also incredibly musical and played the guitar and sang in a band in Denmark in his youth. I am very fortunate to have an incredibly supportive family who are actually coming to see the festival this summer!

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

I first started singing when I was young. My mom noticed I had a strong voice and suggested I audition for a choir and orchestra program. I studied there and then graduated to a high school in London with a strong music program as well. I studied at Western University and completed my bachelor’s in performance and later an artist diploma. I am not currently studying at an institution but would love to do a Master’s of Music one day! I will be auditioning in the spring and I am looking forward to new adventures!

What came first for you, theatre or music?


What are your dream roles?

I have so many dream roles… too many to think of all at once. I love romantic music and would love to sing larger operatic roles one day. I absolutely adore Mimi and Musetta (La Boheme), Violetta (La Traviata), Tatiana (Eugene Onegin) and Floria Tosca (Tosca). I also love Il Trovatore, Faust and Werther and would love to sing in any of those operas one day.

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

I can’t lie and say it isn’t a blast being a soprano, but I really think I am a secret Baritone. Sopranos often are the good girls in opera but let’s be honest… I WANT TO SING SCARPIA (Tosca). He is the perfect, delicious, evil villain. That, and “Recondita Armonia” (the tenor aria from act 2) would make me want to switch voice types to EVEN be a tenor… the tenor paycheque wouldn’t hurt either I’m sure. I am also completely in love with Sharpless in Madama Butterfly. His musical lines are so beautiful and they weave in and out of the music so stunningly…. I have a pretty long list of repertoire I would love to swipe from our male counterparts, but Figaro (the aria), Papageno (the quintet), Don Giovanni (THE FLAMES) and Rigoletto are definitely on the list.

Who are your favourite performing artists?

Anna Netrebko
Dmitri Hvorostovsky
Roberto Alagna
Mirella Freni
Beverly Sills
Barbara Frittoli
The Arkells

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

I am really trying to find something embarrassing but i really can’t! I love everything and even if it were a little embarrassing I would wail along to pretty much anything on the radio. Let’s say it’s probably something from “Burlesque”.

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?:

It’s important to acknowledge that these two things are a reality in the modern world. It would be foolish to exclude them from, say, Verismo opera. That makes no sense. We obviously also want the cast members to be respectful of one another (another conversation altogether), and I think we have to open a dialogue and be respectful to all of the people involved. Racism and sexism on stage can be moving and jarring at the same time. It really depends on the context of the show.

What are you most enjoying about this summer?

I’ve loved every minute I’ve spent here at HSOF so far and would love to come back another year in the future! I love spending time with people who are as in love with opera as I am.

Thanks, Laura!

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


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