Calgary Opera Company: Stars Rise in the West
Michelle Minke and Dionne Sellinger, participants in Calgary Opera's 2006-2007 Emerging Artist Development Program, in a scene from Dean Burry's The Brothers Grimm.
(Photo: Trudie Lee)
Artist Profiles and Success Stories
Who knew that the life of an emerging opera singer could involve taking part in the world premiere of the opera Frobisher by Estacio/Murrell, presenting excerpts from the same opera in a tour of the Great North, singing in The Brothers Grimm by Dean Burry to students in Calgary and southern Alberta, not to mention voice classes, performance workshops …? That is just a taste of what participants in the new training program at Calgary Opera Company can expect!
The first cohort of students began the program in late 2006, and already, one of the participants says that “word is already out to the rest of Canada that the Calgary Opera program is one of the best available anywhere. I'm answering about 20 inquiring e-mails a week from… other young singers telling them how fantastic this program is.”
Each year, 8 singers benefit from a 24-week residency where they learn from the experience and counsel of professional singers, guest artists and the best professors in the field. This is the first program of its kind in western Canada.
The singers are not the only ones to benefit from the program, since it will now be open to an emerging director, coach, designer and stage managers. They too will have professional mentoring.
A pilot version of this “dream project” was successfully tested in 2004. The support of the Canada Council, an accumulated budget surplus and the acquisition of a new building perfectly suited to its needs incited the Opera to implement the program. “It will serve as a bridge between academic programs and the professional world of opera, offering the experience and practical skills necessary to succeed as a self-employed professional in a highly competitive international environment.”