The 2015 Halifax Summer Opera Festival: Featured performer, soprano Breanne Rourke!

Artist Name: Breanne Rourke.
Voice type: soprano
Role you’re singing this year: Spirit 2 in Cendrillon

Tell us where you’re from!

I’m from St. Catharines, ON and I first became interested in opera while completing my Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance with Torin Chiles. I was always interested in singing classical music and art song prior to that, but being at Western and studying so intently really opened my eyes up to how wonderful, grandiose, and just magical opera can be. I love diving into an aria and enveloping myself into the music, the score, the character. I am a mystery in my family, as I am the only one who has a musical background! When my mother was pregnant with me, she played classical music through headphones and put them on her stomach every night. She was also visually artistic, but I primarily come from a science/math heavy family. I was very fortunate and blessed to have a family who supported me so heavily in my music career!

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

I took voice lessons at 5 years old, but my teacher just made me sing Disney songs. At 11, I knew this was a passion of mine and I wanted to be serious about it. So I studied with David Holler in Niagara for 7 years, before going off to University – he played a major role in shaping the singer I am today. I studied under Torin Chiles throughout my undergrad at Western, and I made major breakthroughs with him in 4 years. He really helped to polish my technique and inspired me to teach voice. I am now studying with Rachel Mallon in London, whom I just adore. We do a lot of body awareness exercises, which has allowed me to be more focussed.

What came first for you: theatre or music?

Definitely music. I was never really involved in a lot of theatre growing up – I was so busy with voice lessons, piano lessons, and theory lessons. I did get involved in the chorus of my high school’s play Urinetown, and I loved that. I am looking forward at gaining more experience on the stage!

What are your dream roles? Why?

As I’m settling into being a lyric soprano, and am fairly new to performing opera, I would love to play the Countess in Le nozze di Figaro. I find her character challenging, musically and emotionally. I have sung Dove sono and Porgi amor and both are great arias, as they exhibit her pain, while displaying technical and dynamic changes. And who doesn’t love Mozart?!

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

If I could have any fach, it would be dramatic! I love the colour dramatic sopranos produce. I would LOVE to be able to sing Strauss or Wagner. When I DO hear these dramatic sopranos sing these roles, I just immerse myself completely into what they are singing. One of my best friends is a ‘baby’ dramatic soprano, and every time we are together I make her sing for me! Ha! 

Who are your favourite performing artists?

I know this sounds really cliche, but I do love Renee Fleming. The finesse of her instrument is gorgeous. I would love to have my technique solidified like that! I am a big fan of Jessye Norman, her voice is so majestic to listen to. I’m a fan of pop/folk music as well, and my favourite vocalist would be Sara Bareilles.

How can we keep opera a relevant art form for young people? What is the future of opera?

I think opera IS relevant today – I love that there are so many smaller opera companies within Canada giving opportunities to singers. I feel like we need to expose opera and classical music to the younger generation. As a teacher of many young students, they simply don’t know about it. Or they think that opera is the typical ‘fat lady singing’ – I think it’s our job, as performers, to educate!

What are you most looking forward to about this summer?

I am looking forward to performing my first role in an opera! I have never been a part of this before, so it’ll be really fun to pour myself into the whole experience. I’m like a sponge – I am passionate about learning about my craft and I am so glad for this opportunity to make myself a better singer! I’m also really looking forward to meeting everyone and working with the cast of Cendrillon. It’ll be so fun to hang out with people with one big common interest – opera and theatre!

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about you and your journey to HSOF?

This past year I have worked so hard to create opportunities for myself within opera, while working on my technique. I own my own voice studio with over 40 students, and conduct a church choir, so time off is rare. I love being a singer/teacher/conductor – but I am definitely ready to take my performing skills and my career to the next level!

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

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