Michael Donovan, Music Director
Michael Donovan’s experience as a musician encompasses a wide range of musical styles and forms of expression.
As a boy, he studied piano and pursued extensive studies in classical and jazz saxophone at the Conservatoire du Québec. As a teenager, he composed original music for the avant-garde bands with which he performed. He then went on to pursue vocal studies at McGill University, followed by graduate studies in Opera at the Hochschule für Musik in Munich, Germany, with legendary mezzo-soprano Brigitte Fassbaender. Donovan was also a student of renowned Baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, who is acknowledged as the 20th century’s greatest master of lieder. As Fischer-Dieskau’s hand-picked private student at the Hochschule der Künste in Berlin, Donovan was immersed in the historic continuum of Romantic art song interpretation.
Donovan has enjoyed a successful career as a performer of opera, oratorio, art song, chamber music, jazz, new music and improvisational music in Canada, Germany, Switzerland, France and the U.S. He has appeared in leading roles with the Bern State Opera, Stuttgart State Opera, Munich State Opera, Opera Vancouver and the Edmonton Opera. He has been a soloist with the Quebec Symphony, the Winnipeg Symphony and Symphony Nova-Scotia as well as with many concert and new music presenters, including Numus (Waterloo), Queen of Puddings (Toronto), BradyWorks (Montreal), Array Music (Toronto), New Music Concerts (Toronto) and, most recently, the Nouvel Ensemble Modern in Montreal.
Donovan is also in demand as an educator—he is newly appointed professor at Dalhousie University and has also been on the voice faculties of Wilfrid-Laurier University and York University. He has given master classes at York University, Brandon University, the Glenn Gould School, Chadron State College (Nebraska) and Concordia University. He is also an active adjudicator and consultant for music schools and festivals.
As a composer, Donovan has written numerous settings of poems by living Canadian, German, French and Japanese poets. He has also written chamber music and film music.
Donovan’s PhD in musicology, which was nominated for the York University Thesis Award, is an inquiry into the deep-ecological significance of the poetic settings of Franz Schubert.
Donovan is also co-founder, co-artistic director and music director of Long Reach Opera Workshop, a Toronto-based opera training program for singer-actors.
In 2016 Donovan premiered his project Schubertnow: The Journey Outward, a re-visitation of Franz Schubert’s seminal song cycle Winterreise. Most recently, Donovan premiered his setting of Ode to a Nightingale by John Keats, a song cycle for voice, piano, flute and bassoon.
Anne-Marie Donovan, Stage Director
Anne-Marie Donovan is a stage director, performer and creator, originally from Montreal. Creation: Maanomaa, My Brother (Blue Bird Theatre Collective, TO), Frankenstein’s Ghosts (Blue Rider Ensemble/Inter Arts Matrix, Mtl), The Last Fifteen Seconds (MT Space, Kit), Sounding Rituals (Inter Arts Matrix, Kit). Currently working on the creation of très loin (BoucharDanse, TO) and Échos de Phèdre (Inter Arts Matrix, Kit). Anne-Marie was the founder and artistic director of Inter Arts Matrix from 2007-2014. She remains an associate artist at the company. She is co-artistic director of Long Reach Opera Workshop (TO) and a founding member of Blue Rider Ensemble (Mtl). For 21 years, Anne-Marie taught in the Drama Department at University of Waterloo, where she was awarded the Distinguished Teacher of the Year Award.
Christopher Bagan, pianist mainstage
Christopher Bagan is a versatile artist, equally at home on modern and historical keyboard instruments. He is in high demand as a collaborator, chamber musician and basso continuo specialist. He has performed with many of the leading baroque singers, instrumentalists and conductors in North America and abroad with recent engagements including appearances with I Furiosi, Apollo's Fire, Les Dèlices, Catacoustic Consort, Daniel Taylor and Ellen Hargis. He is a regular performer in the Early Music Vancouver main series and Summer Festival as well as Vancouver’s Music on Main concert series. In 2015-16 Christopher was the Early Keyboard instructor at Case Western Reserve University and the head of Harpsichord at the Cleveland Institute of Music. He is harpsichordist for the Canadian Opera Company and Opera Atelier and holds a Doctor of Musical Arts in piano performance from the University of British Columbia with a specialization in the piano music of Arnold Schönberg.
Kate Carver, piano-vocal coach
Kate Carver is based in Toronto, and is in great demand as a private vocal coach and accompanist. She has also worked as a vocal coach with the University of Toronto's Opera Division, and répétiteur and vocal coach with the Canadian Opera Company, as well as Music Director for Essential Opera and Maritime Concert Opera. She has been on staff in the voice program at the Chautauqua Institute in Chautauqua, New York, as well as the University of Montreal, and has played for many masterclasses with world class visiting artists. After receiving her Bachelor and Masters degrees in Music from McGill university, Kate spent several years in London, England, where she studied with master voice coaches Martin Isepp and Graham Johnson at the Britten-Pears School, received a Vocal Coaching/Repetiteur Diploma from the Guildhall School of Music, and was sponsored by the Friends of Covent Garden Bursary to attend the prestigious National Opera Studio, where she continued her studies with Martin Isepp among others. Kate was attracted back to Canada by a position as Apprentice Coach with the Canadian Opera Company's Ensemble program.
Hyejin Kwon, Piano-vocal Coach
Pianist and co-founder of Muse9 Production, Korean Canadian pianist Hyejin Kwon is currently based in Toronto, actively working as a vocal coach. She has received her Bachelor of Music and Masters of Music degrees from Peabody Conservatory and Artistic Diploma from University of Toronto opera. She is also a graduate of Canadian Opera Company's ensemble studio. Hyejin has worked as a music staff at Canadian Opera Company, Canadian Children's Opera Company, University of Toronto Opera, St. Andrews Opera Workshop by the Sea, Repertory Opera Theatre in Washington, Lyric Opera Baltimore, and Shoestring Opera, and was a vocal accompanying fellow at Aspen Music festival.
Brad Cook, Movement Coach
Brad Cook is an actor, puppeteer, movement director, movement teacher and theatre creator. As a creator with BBTC, Cook was co-creator and actor in Maanomaa, My Brother. Other selected creations include; Body 13 (MT Space), Frankenstein’s Ghosts (Blue Rider Ensemble/Inter Arts Matrix).
As an actor and puppeteer selected credits include: the head of Joey in War Horse (National Theatre of Great Britain), Earthling House Huntress (CBC), King Lear (Cosmic Fishing), Charles Dickens Writes a Christmas Carol, Pearl Gidley, Radio Leacock, Twelfth Night (Lost ↦ Found), The Importance of Being Earnest (Guild Theatre Festival). Currently in his 4th season at the Stratford Festival as a movement coach and movement director and will be movement and puppetry coach of the University of Waterloo’s upcoming production of The Eco Project: How on Earth Do We Live?.
Selected movement direction and puppetry direction credits include: The Breathing Hole, Treasure Island, Breath of Kings: Rebellion and Redemption (Stratford Festival), Cosi fan tutte, The Consul, Susannah (Long Reach Opera), Western (Next Stage), Lord Sword (Inter Arts Matrix), The Lark, The Trojan Women (Lost & Found Theatre), Western (Next Stage), King Lear (Cosmic Fishing Theatre). Brad teaches Movement for Actors at the National Theatre School of Canada, Randolph College and The Birmingham Conservatory for Classical Theatre.
Steven Leigh, Lyric Diction Coach
Canadian Opera Company (COC) Ensemble Studio Lyric Diction Coach, Steven Leigh, is a PhD Candidate at the University of Toronto’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE). As one of the core trainers of the COC's Ensemble Studio, Steven works with the singers and apprentice coaches in both one-on-one and collaborative group sessions with the other core trainers. Informed by his diverse background in the languages and dialects of multiple language groups including Romance, Celtic, Germanic, Semitic, Hellenic, he is able to work with Ensemble Studio members of various linguistic backgrounds assisting them in achieving a Standard stage-language pronunciation in the Italian, German, French, and English repertoire.
Sara Maida-Nicol, Italian Language Coach
Sara Maida-Nicol is an Italian linguist, language coach and lyric soprano. Whether performing or lecturing, Ms. Maida-Nicol is noted for her passion and energy on stage. Ms. Maida-Nicol holds a Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance from the University of Toronto and a Master of Arts in Italian from Middlebury College. While in graduate school, she studied at the Universita’ degli studi a Firenze, where she became interested in linguistics and culture. This interest led her to pursue a Ph.D. in Linguistic Anthropology at the University of Toronto, giving her the opportunity to integrate the various areas of her expertise into an overall anthropological-semiotic analysis of the phenomenon of Italian language in music. Her early graduate work was devoted to the field of Italian Linguistics and Dialectology where she had the privilege of working with distinguished experts including Umberto Eco, Marcel Danesi, Tullio De Mauro and Giulio Lepschy. Her first publication, a book on Italian Dialectology co-authored by Gianrenzo Clivio and Marcel Danesi, and published by Lincom Europa, was also the first of its kind available in the English language. She has since published a handful of scholarly articles on diverse aspects of Italian language and culture, as well as encyclopedia entries and texts in anthropological linguistics. She also sat on the editorial boards of the academic journals Semiotica and Cultura e Cominicazione from 2010-2013. Early in her singing career, Ms. Maida-Nicol spent summers in Tuscany (and NYC in the off-season) under the tutelage of Daniel Ferro (Juilliard). Other teachers/coaches with whom she has worked during that time include Carol Vaness (Indiana University), Blanche Thebom, Federica Von Stade, Luciano Roberti (Maggio Musicale), Giovanni Reggioli (Washington Opera), Bruno Rigacci (Italy), and Jean MacPhail (Canada). Currently, Ms. Maida-Nicol teaches the Italian Vocal Repertoire at both the University of Toronto and the Royal Conservatory’s Glenn Gould School and remains active as a freelance lecturer, giving talks on all things Italian, from Opera to Food Culture. While teaching at Middlebury College from 2010-2011, she created and led a series of diction workshops that became part of the standard undergraduate curriculum, a unique addition to one of North America’s leading Italian departments. As former Editor-in-Chief of the Italian magazine formerly known as VIVO, she considers herself an “Italianist” in every sense, and works tirelessly within the communities of Toronto and Niagara promoting opera and supporting young singers through her program “Opera Tastings”.
Hanna Edwards, costume design
Hanna Edwards, costume designer, is a multidisciplinary researcher based in Toronto. Though her official education is in biology and neuroscience, she has been working in textiles for over 10 years in design, embroidery, sewing, and weaving. Her design and construction credits include Hanna Kiel/Anisa Tejpar's In Time, Michael Caldwell's FACTORY, LROW's The Consul, BLM Toronto's Freedom School, and Little Pear Garden's 5 Elements (Earth - Natasha Poon Woo). She brings her performance experience as a dancer with Canadian Contemporary Dance Theatre, Frog in Hand, and the Fringe Festival, as well as Anna Gomez in LROW 2017 to costume design for dance and theatre.
Guest Artist Master Classes
2020 Guest Artist
Roundtable discussion with Johannes Debus
Johannes Debus has been Music Director of the Canadian Opera Company (COC) since 2009, having been appointed immediately following his debut. His 2019-20 season includes performances of Rusalka, Hänsel und Gretel, and The Flying Dutchman.
Recent highlights include Debus's debuts with the Seattle, Oregon, and Milwaukee Symphonies; Santa Fe Opera conducting Jenůfa; ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra; Hallé Orchestra; and the Bilbao Orkestra Sinfonikoa, and return engagements with the Frankfurt Radio, Toronto, Kansas City, and San Diego Symphonies; the Metropolitan Opera conducting The Tales of Hoffmann; and the Bregenz Festival conducting the Austrian premiere of Goldschmidt’s Beatrice Cenci with the Vienna Symphony.
Debus conducts regularly at the Bayerische Staatsoper Munich, Staatsoper unter den Linden Berlin, and Frankfurt Opera and has appeared in new productions at English National Opera and Opéra National de Lyon. He made his debut at the BBC Proms with Britten’s Sinfonia in 2014, and conducted a new production of The Tales of Hoffmann at the 2015 Bregenz Festival.
As guest conductor, he has appeared at several international festivals such as the Biennale di Venezia and Schwetzingen Festivals, Festival d’Automne in Paris, Lincoln Center Festival, Ruhrtriennale, Suntory Summer Festival, and Spoleto Festival. He has appeared with The Cleveland Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, and the Philharmonia in London.
Debus graduated from the Hamburg Conservatoire before being engaged as répétiteur and, subsequently, Kapellmeister by Frankfurt Opera where he acquired an extensive repertoire from Mozart to Thomas Adès. At home in both contemporary music and the core repertoire, he has conducted a wide range of world premieres and works of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. He has collaborated with internationally-acclaimed ensembles such as Ensemble Intercontemporain, Ensemble Modern, Klangforum Wien, and Musikfabrik. He enjoys an ongoing relationship with the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto.
2020 Guest Artist Master Class
Nathalie Paulin, 2019
Soprano Nathalie Paulin has established herself in the United States, Canada, Europe and the Far East as an interpretive artist of the very first rank. Winner of a Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding Opera Performance, she has collaborated with internationally renowned conductors including Harry Christophers, Jane Glover, Michael Christie, Robert Spano, Kent Nagano, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Antony Walker, Bernard Labadie, Sir Roger Norrington, Andrew Parrott, David Agler, Jacques Lacombe, Graeme Jenkins, and Andrew Litton on both the concert platform and in opera. As well, critics have been lavish in their praise. Reviewing from Chicago, John van Rhein noted that “Paulin in particular is a real find; her rich, agile voice possesses great depth and allure, her manner radiates sensuous charm.” Ms. Paulin debuted for L’Opéra de Montréal as Mélisande in Pélléas et Mélisande and for Chicago Opera Theater as Galatea in Acis and Galatea. She was re-engaged by Chicago Opera Theater for the title role in Semele and for Mary in La Resurrezione, both by Handel. She has also been heard as Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro for Cincinnati Opera and the Dallas Opera featured her in Carmen and Cunning Little Vixen.
The New Brunswick native’s upcoming season includes Messiah for the Vancouver Chamber Choir, Dear Life for the National Arts Centre Orchestra including a European Tour, Vivier’s Lonely Child for the Vancouver Symphony, Handel for Toronto’s Pax Christie Chorale and she will curate a programme for Montréal’s Arion at Bourgie Hall. Recent engagements have included Blow’s Venus and Adonis for Clavecin en Concert, Lonely Child for Symphony Nova Scotia, Goercki’s Symphony No. 3 for the Winnipeg Symphony and Cherubini’s Stabat Mater for Ottawa’s Thirteen Strings. Of special interest were performances of scenes from late 18th Century French operas by Sacchini, Cherubini and Martini conducted by Ryan Brown for Opera Lafayette in D.C. and New York. Other credits in the USA and Canada include Messiah for Portland Baroque, the Naples Philharmonic, the New Jersey Symphony and Orchestre symhonique de Trois-Rivières, Fauré’s Requiem for the Vancouver Symphony, Carmina Burana for Festival de Lanaudière, Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 for the Kingston and Ottawa symphonies, Bach Cantatas for Stratford Summer Music, the title role in Theodora for Vancouver Early Music, the Countess in Le nozze de Figaro for Opera Lyra Ottawa and Beethoven’s Mass In C with Tafelmusik.
Throughout her career, Ms. Paulin has been highly regarded for the breadth of her musical curiosity and she has been engaged for works ranging from Jacques Hetu’s Les Clartés de la nuit with the National Arts Centre Orchestra and Handel’s Orlando with Washington Concert Opera to Micaela in Carmen with Opera Tampa to Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 for the Seattle Symphony. She has been featured by Bard Summerscape in New York, the Handel and Hayden Society, Cincinnati Opera, Atlanta Symphony, Boston Baroque, Music of the Baroque, Brooklyn Philharmonic, Arizona Opera, Phoenix Symphony, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Mercury Baroque and the Colorado Symphony, as well as all the major orchestras and opera companies of Canada. On the festival circuit, she has been heard with the Wexford Festival in Ireland, the Fredericton Chamber Music Festival, the Elora Festival, Ottawa Chamber Music Festival, and the Scotia Festival in Halifax.
Frequently heard on both the French and English CBC networks, she is a past winner of the Montréal Symphony Competition and holds a Master’s Degree from the Université de Montréal. She won the Dvorak prize and has also received awards and prizes from the George London Foundation in New York, the Young Mozart Singers’ Competition in Toronto and the Canadian Music Competition. Ms. Paulin is currently a member of the Vocal Department at the Faculty of Music, University of Toronto.
Krisztina Szabó, 2019
Hungarian-Canadian mezzo-soprano Krisztina Szabó is highly sought after in both North America and Europe as an artist of supreme musicianship and stagecraft, and has become known for her promotion and performance of contemporary Canadian works. Among her many laudatory reviews, Opera Canada declared her to be an “exceptional talent” after her performance of the title role of Dido in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, and after a performance with Tapestry Opera, the music blog, Schmopera wrote that “her instrument is one-of-a-kind and she has cemented herself as a darling of Canadian experimental music and opera … her sensibility and sensitivity to the material is truly inspiring.” In her hometown of Toronto, Canada, she has been nominated twice for a Dora Award for Outstanding Female Performance.
In the 2017-18 season, Krisztina Szabó made her Royal Opera and Netherlands Opera débuts in George Benjamin’s new opera, Lessons in Love and Violence. She also appeared as Angel/Marie in Benjamin’s Written on Skin for both Opera Philadelphia and the Holland Festival. Other highlights include the performance and recording of prestigious Canadian composer, Ana Sokolovic’s Pesma with Ensemble Contemporain de Montréal and the world premiere of Jeffrey Ryan’s Emily Carr in Seven Scenes for Canadian Art Song Project.
Upcoming engagements in the 2018-19 season include being featured performer in Steffani: Drama and Devotion and Händel’s Messiah with the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra; Messiah with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra; Stabat Mater (Pergolesi) with Early Music Seattle, George Benjamin’s Into the Little Hill with Mahler Chamber Orchestra for Musikfest Berlin, Kopernikus (Claude Vivier) with Against the Grain Theatre (Toronto) and the premiere of a new oratorio by Barbara Croall entitled Mizewe (Everywhere) with Pax Christi Chorale. She will also be singing the world premiere of Canadian composer, Ian Cusson’s Where There’s A Wall with the National Arts Centre Orchestra and the Canadian premiere of Toshio Hosokawa’s The Raven for Toronto New Music Projects at the University of Toronto.
Ms. Szabó exemplifies today’s modern singer: she is vocally versatile, possesses excellent stage prowess and paints vivid character portraits on both the opera and concert stages, and is well-known as an interpreter of new music. She sings frequently at the Canadian Opera Company and has been seen in diverse roles, such as singing three leading roles (Thisbe/Arianna/Clorinda) in a triple bill production, Pyramus and Thisbe, Le Pèlerin in L’amour de loin, Idamante (Idomeneo), Musetta (La bohème), The Double-Offred in the Time Before (The Handmaid’s Tale) and Nancy (Albert Herring). In 2006 she helped christen the company’s new opera house in their critically acclaimed Ring Cycle as Wellgunde (Das Rheingold and Götterdämmerung), and Siegrune (Die Walküre) and returned to open their 06/7 season in the role of Dorabella (Così fan tutte). Canadian audiences have also seen Ms. Szabó as the tile role in Cenerentola with Edmonton Opera, Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni), Sesto (La clemenza di Tito) and Musetta in La bohème with Vancouver Opera, Cherubino (Le nozze di Figaro) and Meg(Little Women) with Calgary Opera, Rosina (Il barbiere di Siviglia) with L’Opéra de Québec, Edmonton Opera and Calgary Opera, Second Lady (Die Zauberflöte) with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Ruggiero (Alcina) in concert with Les Violons du Roy, Nerone (Agrippina) with L’Opéra de Montréal, and as the title role in Iphigénie en Tauride with Opera Atelier. She has performed and débuted many new works, staged and concert, with Toronto’s Tapestry Opera, Against the Grain Theatre, Soundstreams, Esprit Orchestra, Continuum Music, and Queen of Puddings Music Theatre, National Arts Centre Orchestra.
Outside of Canada, Ms Szabó has performed a wide variety of roles including: Judith (Bluebeard’s Castle) with Colorado Music Festival, Rosalind (The Mines of Sulphur) for the Wexford Festival Opera (company début), Countess (Le nozze di Figaro), Judith (Bluebeard’s Castle) and Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni) – all with Chicago Opera Theater, Magnolia (Showboat) with L’Opéra National du Rhin, the title role in Charpentier’s Médée with Le Concert Spirituel in Paris, The Queen of the Fairies in Ana Sokolovic’s hilarious opera, The Midnight Court, with Queen of Puddings Music Theatre’s tour to England, Hänsel (Hänsel und Gretel), Komponist (Ariadne auf Naxos) and Cherubino (Le nozze di Figaro) with Stadttheater Klagenfurt, Bianca (Mercadante’s Il giuramento) with Washington Concert Opera, Ljubica (Sokolovic’s Svadba/Wedding) with Opera Philadelphia and Dido (Dido and Aeneas) with Music of the Baroque.
Krisztina Szabó is a frequent performer of recital, concert and chamber repertoire. She has appeared as a soloist with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (Mozart’s Mass in C Minor), Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (B minor Mass) L’Orchestre Symphonique de Québec (Bach’s Mass in B Minor), Vancouver Bach Choir (John Adams’ El niño), the San Antonio Symphony (Handel’s Messiah), the Talisker Players in Toronto for an evening of chamber music, the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir (Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis and Mendelssohn’s Elijah), the Elora Festival Orchestra (Verdi’s Requiem), Les Violons du Roy’s United States tour of (Haydn’s cantata Arianna a Naxos) , the Brooklyn Academy of Music (staged production of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion) and the Oregon Symphony (Mozart Requiem). She has also appeared as soloist with Plural Ensemble in Madrid, Spain, under the baton of renowned composer-conductor, Peter Eötvös.
In recital, she has appeared with Ravinia Festival, Aldeburgh Connection, Music Toronto, Off Centre Music Salon and Music at Sharon. In addition, she has performed with Symphony Nova Scotia, Lanaudière Festival, Calgary Philharmonic, Orchestra London, Toronto Operetta Theatre, Esprit Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony, Canadian Art Song Project, Festival of the Sound, Grand Teton Festival Soundstreams, Ottawa Chamber Music Festival, Waterside Music Festival, Stratford Summer Music Festival and Indian River Festival.
Ms, Szabó has appeared on television featured in CBC’s &lduqo;Opening Night” in concert with the Canadian Opera Company. On film, she can be seen as Zerlina with Dmitri Hvorostovsky in Don Giovanni Revealed: Leporello’s Revenge, and she can be heard as the voice of Leanne in the new opera movie Burnt Toast. Krisztina Szabo can also be heard as a featured soloist in a recording with the Talisker Players “Where Words and Music Meet”, Musica Leopolis CDs works of Lysenko, Stetsenko, Stepovy and Galicians I (4 different CDs), Singing Somers Theatre (the works of Harry Somers) and Baby Kintyre, a radio opera by Dean Burry.
Ms. Szabó finished her postgraduate studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, England, after completing her undergraduate degree at the University of Western Ontario studying with Darryl Edwards. She has been the recipient of the Emerging Artist grant from Canada Council and has been honoured by her home town of Mississauga with a star on the Music Walk of Fame in its inaugural year. Krisztina lives in Toronto with her husband, Kristian Clarke and their daughter, Phoibe Clarke. Ms. Szabó is a member of the voice faculty at the University of Toronto.
Lorna MacDonald, Master Class, 2019
“Who I am as an artist is who I am as a teacher. Simply put, I cannot be assuaged from the belief that in its purest state, music in the human voice has power that will transform. That puts singing and teaching at the heart of my life’s work.”
Lorna MacDonald is Professor of Voice, and Lois Marshall Chair in Voice Studies at the University of Toronto. Head of Voice from 1994-2007, she leads Vocal Pedagogy in a progressive, three-level program combining music, science and teaching. A recipient of Ontario’s OCUFA Award for “teaching excellence and outstanding contributions to university teaching” and a 2015 Teaching Award recipient, MacDonald is known for her clarity, diagnostic skill and deep passion. The Toronto Star noted her as a “master of transformation”.
“One of my non-negotiables is to honour the native creativity and imagination of a student at all times. I lead students to actions and processes that require them to feel and think for themselves, and I look to strengthen their habits of excellence while exploring functional frailties that may have outlived their usefulness in the long-term building of a career.”
Her performances have garnered praise including, “MacDonald’s freshness of tone, her clarity of style and diction, and her beautifully expressive musicianship are served by a perfection of technical mastery which allows her to sing both softly and full on any note in her entire range, as meaning and emotional imagery require.” (Halifax Herald) Performances and master classes have taken her across North America, to Wales, Bermuda, Taiwan, China, France, Ireland, UK, Germany, and Austria.
“My professional performance career has always been balanced with academic life, and includes numerous operatic and oratorios roles, recitals with wonderful collaborators, and premières of new music, chamber music and broadcasts. I was very fortunate as a light soprano in the 80’s to be a national finalist in competitions that allowed me to experience both the back stage life and proscenium of some major companies - Metropolitan Opera, Chicago, New York, Houston, Los Angeles, Washington, Fort Worth and Dallas Opera companies. Those experiences gave me a clear understanding of the rigors and standards expected - from coaching, scheduling, to sheer size of space, and one’s responsibility to both a production and to oneself. It was both overwhelming and deeply influential in my teaching path.”
MacDonald is the creator and librettist of The Bells of Baddeck – the Alexander Graham and Mabel Bell Story, music by Dean Burry, which was described by Opera Canada as “a tour de force production”. Other original programs include her multi-media work “Lois Marshall in Russia”, and “Marrying Mozart”, adapted from the book by Stephanie Cowell.
Elizabeth McDonald, Master Class, 2016, 2017
Soprano Elizabeth McDonald is having a diverse career as a performer and teacher. As a young artist with both the Santa Fe Opera and the Canadian Opera Company, Elizabeth understudied and performed a number of major roles including Elettra in Mozart's Idomeneo, The Woman in Schoenberg's Erwartung, Miss Jessel in Britten's Turn of the Screw, and Jenufa in Janecek's Jenufa. She has appeared with the National Ballet Orchestra, the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra, and the Kingston Symphony and is a regular recitalist having been featured at Virginia Polytechnic University, Eastman School of Music and the Universities of Toronto, Lakehead, Lethbridge, Queen's and Carlton, and the Off Centre Music Salon. The 2015-16 season will see Elizabeth present recitals at the Toronto Arts and Letters Club, the University of Toronto, and Bimiji State University. Oratorio work includes the soprano solos in Mendelssohn's Elijah and Poulenc's Gloria.
A voice instructor at the University of Toronto, Elizabeth's students have won major national and international awards including the Metropolitan Opera National Council Competition, the Canadian Opera Company Centre Stage Competition, and the Eckhardt-Grammatte Competition. They have been accepted at prestigious summer programs including the Ravinia Festival, The Schubert Institute, and COSI; as well as major graduate programs in the United States and the United Kingdom.
Elizabeth was selected as a 2012 National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) Intern Teaching Program participant. She has served as an adjudicator for major voice festivals across Canada and works regularly with the Ontario Youth Choir, the Toronto Children's Chorus and lectures at the University of Toronto's annual Choral Symposium. Currently Elizabeth is the president of the Ontario Chapter of NATS and is the co-founder of the website ArtSongFinder.com.
Elizabeth holds a Master of Music from the Eastman School of Music and a Bachelor of Music in Performance from the University of Toronto. She lives in Prince Edward County, ON with her husband and two children.
Colin Ainsworth, 2018
“Ainsworth has always been blessed with an unusually high, pure tenor. Now it thrills with remarkable power and expressivity.” - Stagedoor 2016.
Colin Ainsworth has distinguished himself not only with his interpretations of the major Classical and Baroque tenor roles but also by his performances in contemporary opera. His many performances have included the title roles in Orphée et Euridice, Pygmalion, Castor et Pollux, Roberto Devereux and Albert Herring; Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni, Tamino in Die Zauberflöte, Ernesto in Don Pasquale, Rinnucio in Gianni Schicchi, Fenton in Falstaff, Tonio in La Fille du Régiment, Nadir in Les Pêcheurs de Perles, Pylades in Iphigénie en Tauride, Renaud in Lully’s Armide, Tom Rakewell in The Rake’s Progress, and Lysander in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. An avid supporter of new works, he has appeared in the world premieres of John Estacio’s Lillian Alling at the Vancouver Opera, Stuart MacRae’s The Assassin Tree at the Edinburgh International Festival, Victor Davies’ The Transit of Venus with the Manitoba Opera, and Rufus Wainwright’s Prima Donna at Sadler’s Wells in London and at the Luminato Festival. Other past opera engagements have included appearances with the Royal Opera (London), Canadian Opera Company, Chicago Opera Theatre, Glimmerglass Opera, L’Opéra de Français, Opera Atelier, Pacific Opera Victoria, Edmonton Opera, and the Greek National Opera. This past season, he made three debuts; one with Opera Columbus in Lully’s Armide; Seattle Opera as the Steuermann in Der fliegende Holländer; and with Teatro Nacional São Carlos as Pylades in Iphigénie en Tauride. He appeared in concert with Jane Glover and the Music of the Baroque, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and the Grand Philharmonic Choir.
Also a prolific concert singer, Mr. Ainsworth has appeared with the Cincinnati Symphony, Montreal Symphony, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Ensemble Pygmalion, Vancouver Symphony, Calgary Symphony, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra of San Francisco, Music of the Baroque in Chicago, Mercury Baroque in Houston, Les Violons du Roy in Montreal, and Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra in Toronto. He has also appeared at the Lanaudiere, Montreal Baroque, Elora and the Aldeburgh Connection festivals, and has toured throughout Germany. His vast concert and recital repertoire includes Bach’s Mass in B Minor and St. John’s Passion, Handel’s Messiah, Orff’s Carmina Burana, Mozart’s Requiem, Schubert’s Dichterliebe and Janácek’s Diary of One Who Vanished.
Mr. Ainsworth’s growing discography includes Vivaldi’s La Griselda (Naxos), Castor et Pollux (Naxos), Schubert Among Friends (Marquis Classics), Gloria in Excelsis Deo with the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra (CBC Records), the collected masses of Vanhal, Haydn, and Cherbuini with Nicholas McGegan (Naxos), and the premiere recording of Derek Holman’s The Heart Mislaid which was included on the Alderburgh Connection’s Our Own Songs (Marquis Classics). He also appears in a live DVD recording of Lully’s Persée with the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra (Euroarts). His new disc, A Play of Passion, featuring the music of Derek Holman with Stephen Ralls and Bruce Ubukata has just been released.
This season, Mr. Ainsworth returns to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra as soloist in Jeffrey Ryan’s new composition Afghanistan: Requiem for a Generation as part of Canada’s 150th Birthday celebration and the Canada Mosaic collaboration. He also will return to Chicago’s Music of the Baroque in Handel’s Esther.
Catherine Robbin, 2018
One of Canada's best known mezzo-sopranos, Catherine Robbin has established an international reputation since her debut in 1972, performing with leading conductors throughout the world. Miss Robbin’s illustrious thirty-year performing career included performances and recordings with conductors John Eliot Gardiner, Trevor Pinnock, Christopher Hogwood, Bernard Labadie, John Nelson, Andrew Davis and many others in concert halls from Rome to Tokyo. She is at ease in a wide range of vocal music but is particularly noted for her interpretations of Baroqueand Romantic repertoire in oratorio, opera and recital.
In 2003, Catherine Robbin retired from a performing career, giving her farewell concert at the Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto with Tafelmusik. Since then she has been the director of classical vocal studies in the School of Arts, Media, Performance and Design at York University in Toronto. Her students have won numerous awards and have gone on to graduate studies at many Canadian, American and European universities.
Aside from her activities at York University, Miss Robbin is often called upon to adjudicate and to give masterclasses at universities across Canada and for young artists’ intensive programs. Catherine is an honorary patron of The Toronto Children’s Chorus and The Women’s Musical Club of Toronto. Throughout her career Miss Robbin has been the recipient of numerous awards and honours, including a Juno Award, a Grand Prix du Disque and a Grammy nomination. In 2011, she was named an Officer of the Order of Canada.
Leslie Fagan – Soprano, 2017
Reviewing Leslie Fagan's recent New York appearances, Opera News names her performance of the Poulenc Gloria as “one of the most memorable performances of the season,"” and the New York Times noted the soprano's “transcendent moments” in Handel's Messiah at Carnegie Hall. In demand for concert appearances from North America to Europe and Asia, Ms. Fagan's engagements include Mahler's Symphony No. 2 under the direction of Hans Graf; a Stravinsky and Debussy concert with The Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine in France; Bach's Das Weinachtsoratorium BWV 248 in Stuttgart, Germany; Handel's Messiah at the Royal Albert Hall in England and with Tafelmusik Orchestra and Choir in Canada; and an engagement as guest soloist at the International Choral Festival in The Netherlands. She has performed with conductors Sir David Willcocks, Boris Brott, Jukke-Pekke Saraste, Elmer Isler, Kent Tritle and Daniel Lipton with orchestras such as the National Symphony, the Rochester Philharmonic and the Toronto Symphony, as well as the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir. Her recent engagements include Bach's St. Matthew Passion with the Oratorio Society of New York; concerts in Ribideo, Spain; and in the United Arab Emirates.
When not on the world stages, Leslie teaches aspiring singers at Wilfrid Laurier University.