Three South Shore singers shine in Halifax opera productions

Lukus Uhlman and Tracy Reynolds

Young Liverpool soprano Tracy Reynolds has been working for the past three weeks on her role in an opera in Halifax. It may seem a long way from the South Shore to the operatic stage, but Ms Reynolds is just one of three singers from the region singing with the sixth annual Halifax Summer Opera Workshop (HSOW) this year. Along with fellow Liverpudlian Sarah Townsend (who sang Mercedes with Maritime Concert Opera’s production of “Carmen” two years ago) and baritone Lukus Uhlman who is a native of Pleasantville in Lunenburg County, Ms Reynolds has been attending daily rehearsals and master classes for her role in one of this year’s operas. HSOW will present two fully staged operas this summer – Handel’s “Alcina,” a masterpiece of the baroque period, and Carlisle Floyd’s “Susannah,” one of the greatest American operas ever written. “Alcina” will be performed in Italian with projected English translations, and accompanied by piano, and “Susannah” will be performed in its original English, also accompanied by piano. Both shows are fully staged and costumed. In total 26 extremely talented young singers from across North America have been working for the past three weeks with music directors Nicole Bellamy and Tara Scott and stage directors Garry Williams and Nina Scott-Stoddart. “It takes a huge amount of work for young singers to prepare for a career in opera,” says Lunenburg-resident Ms Scott-Stoddart, founder of the South Shore’s Maritime Concert Opera and co-founder of HSOW. “There’s just no substitution for learning and performing an entire role, because opera demands the highest level of ability in singing, acting, movement and theatre skills.” HSOW is a four-week training program which gives its participants (mostly undergrad and graduate music students) a chance to work on honing their stagecraft by learning and performing a complete role in an opera. “This is the only program of its kind east of Montreal. It’s a unique opportunity for theatre and music students to study opera in the Maritimes in a supportive setting,” says Ms Scott-Stoddart. The program was very attractive to the South Shore contingent. advertisement “The first thing that attracted me to HSOW was its location,” says Ms Reynolds. “It’s the best-case scenario – singing opera all summer in Halifax and it doesn’t get much better than that!” The others agree. “I love coming home to sing and the fact that I get to work with such wonderful people in my native province is just the icing on the cake.” says Ms Townsend. “I left the province to study music, so I feel it is extremely important to bring something back to Nova Scotia.” “I went to New Brunswick to study at Mount Allison” says Mr. Uhlman, “and the next stage of my career will take me to Montreal, so it’s wonderful to be able to perform right here in my home province.” All singers have fond memories of growing up on the South Shore. Ms Townsend remembers that Liverpool was a great town that nurtured her as a young artist. She particularly enjoyed having access to the Astor Theatre. “We have a fabulous venue in Liverpool and it was a great space to grow up singing in. Our community is extremely musical. We have the Queens County Music Festival, International Theatre Festival and the Winds of Change, to name just a few.” Ms Reynolds also remembers growing up in Liverpool with gratitude. “We had a fabulous music teacher, Kim Kirkpatrick, who I studied with until I went to Acadia. I loved going to my voice lessons and I knew I wanted to be an opera singer in high school. I sang in the Liverpool festival all through school and was in the Liverpool Girls Choir for as long as I can remember. I have wonderful memories singing on the Astor Theatre stage. I came back this past May to do a concert in Liverpool. I can’t tell you how wonderful it felt to be back on that stage!” Before they move on to even bigger stages, all three look forward to performing in Halifax, for their friends, family and supporters. All shows are at the Sir James Dunn Theatre in the Dalhousie Arts Centre, 6101 University Avenue. For more information call 494-3820 or 1-800-874-1669.

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