Centre for Creative Learning at the Crescent School
2365 Bayview Ave., Toronto
Parasha: Laura MacLean
The Neighbour: Kristina Alexander
The Mother: Sarah Hicks
The Hussar: Jan Nato
LA SERVA PADRONA
Serpina: Kate Applin
Uberto: Janaka Welihinda
Colombina: Alyson Spina
Harlequin: Jan Nato
Le Magicien: Giovanni Spanu
Stage Director – Alison Wong
Music Director – Blair Salter
Technical Director – Keith Hebert
Mezzo-soprano Kristina Alexander has been singing and performing throughout most of her life and went on to pursue music at the post-secondary level, completing her Bachelor of Music in Voice performance from the University of Lethbridge, and recently finished her Masters in Music at the University of Ottawa with renown mezzo-soprano Sandra Graham. While at the University of Ottawa, Kristina had the opportunity to perform in the production of Die Zauberflöte as the Third Lady, with full orchestra. Throughout her career, Kristina has been able to do some choral conducting within her studies, and also work under some of our countries finest choral conductors, as she has been chosen to tour with the National Youth Choir of Canada both in 2008 and 2010. She was also recently selected to perform as a member of the Carnegie Hall Festival Chorus at Carnegie Hall in New York City in February of last year. Tina is currently studying at the University of Toronto on scholarship with renowned countertenor, Daniel Taylor in a post-graduate certificate program. She is looking forward to touring with the Canadian Chamber Choir this coming February, as well as performing with Metro Youth Opera’s production of Stravinsky’s Mavra later this year. Kristina loves teaching and hopes to be a successful educator, and performer.
Hailing from Toronto, soprano Kate Applin holds an Honours BMus in Voice Performance and an Opera Diploma from Wilfrid Laurier University, where she studied under the tutelage of Kimberly Barber and Christiane Riel. In the summer of 2011, Kate performed the role of Zerlina in Don Giovanni with the Centre for Opera Studies in Italy. In 2010, Kate attended Opera NUOVA where she performed the role of Héro in Berlioz’s Béatrice et Bénédict. With Opera Laurier, Kate performed the roles of Anne Egerman in Sondheim’s A Little Night Music, Sister Mathilde in Poulenc’s Dialogues of the Carmelites and First Witch in Purcell’s Dido and Æenas. She currently continues private studies with Joel Katz.
Kate’s love of opera and the vocal arts reaches beyond performing. In 2010, at the age of 23, she founded Metro Youth Opera, a new opera company designed to create viable development opportunities for young artists in all fields related to the world of opera: singers, stage directors, music directors, and more. In addition to her roles as Founder, Artistic Director, and President of the company, she has performed the roles of Despina in Così fan tutte in MYOpera’s April 2011 and Adina in The Elixir of Love in March 2012.
For nearly a decade, Kate sang with the Canadian Children’s Opera Company, performing in various productions including Little Red Riding Hood in Sondheim’s Into the Woods, Carrie in Rodgers’ Carousel and children’s chorus in Hansel and Gretel (COC, 1997), which cemented Kate’s love of opera for life. Noted for her strong acting, Kate has been described as “intriguingly intense” (The Cord Weekly), “compelling and powerful” and “filled with raw emotion” (The Imprint).
Mezzo-soprano Sarah Hicks completed her degree in Performance Voice at McGill University’s Schulich School of Music. Recent operatic appearances include the role of Annio in the Royal Conservatory’s summer production of Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito, as well as Flosshilde in Wagner’s Das Rheingold and Mrs. McLean in Floyd’s Susannah with Opera by Request. Ms. Hicks has also performed the role of Ma Moss in Summer Opera Lyric Theatre’s production of Copland’s The Tender Land and Mrs. Harple in the professional world premiere of Taptoo! with Toronto Operetta Theatre. Most recently Ms. Hicks performed Charlotte in Massenet’s Werther with Opera by Request as well as excerpts from Don Giovanni as Donna Elvira and Maddalena in Rigoletto with the Toronto School of Music. Last autumn Ms. Hicks performed the role of Flora in Opera York’s production of La Traviata. Ms. Hicks has also been featured as the alto soloist in Bach’s Christmas Oratorio with the Toronto Classical Singers and Handel’s Messiah with Arcady Ensemble.
Upcoming performances will include the role Maddalena in Opera by Request’s production of Rigoletto as well as Cherubino in Mozart’s Nozze di Figaro with music director Michael Rose. Ms. Hicks is thrilled to be working with Metro Youth Opera as the Mother in Stravinsky’s Mavra.
Visit Sarah Hicks online at: www.sarahhicks.net
A native of Nova Scotia, emerging soprano Laura McLean has been described as possessing a voice of “brilliance and freshness…almost startling in its beauty”. Recent highlights for Laura include Contessa in Le Nozze di Figaro with the Centre for Opera Studies in Italy, Sprechstimme in Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire with the New England Conservatory Contemporary Ensemble, First Lady in The Magic Flute and Donna Anna in Don Giovanni, both with NEC Opera, Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi for Opera NUOVA, soprano soloist in Handel’s Messiah for the Woodstock, Vermont Arts Council, and soprano chorus with Boston Baroque. Laura has also performed in concert in Verona, Italy, as part of the Opera Viva program, in Montreal as a student at the International Vocal Arts Institute, at Le Nouvel Opéra Baroque workshop, and in the Montreal Baroque Festival, and was a participant at Operaworks in Los Angeles. Laura is the recent recipient of grants from the Nova Scotia Talent Trust, and was the winner of a Presser Music Award from the Presser Publishing Foundation in Pennsylvania. In 2011 Laura was a finalist in the inaugural Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio Competition. She also won second place in the National Music Festival of Canada, and was a national finalist in the Elora Festival competition. Laura holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Mount Allison University and a Master of Music in vocal performance from the New England Conservatory in Boston. She resides in Toronto with her husband Evan.
Jan Nato, tenor, completed undergraduate studies at the University of Manitoba and is currently enrolled at the Opera Division of the University of Toronto studying with J. Patrick Raftery. Contemporary music forms an important part of Jan’s repertoire; Wilhelm Grimm in Dean Burry’s The Brothers Grimm and The Jester in Mary Carol Warwick’s The Princess & The Pea are two roles that Jan has brought to life for his native Manitoba’s audiences. In 2011 Jan made his debut with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra performing the tenor solo in Karl Jenkin’s The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace. Before moving to Toronto, Jan was awarded the 2012 Winnipeg Music Festival’s Rose Bowl and a generous scholarship by the Women’s Musical Club of Winnipeg in the same year. This summer Jan will travel to Lucca, Italy to perform the role of Don Ottavio in Mozart’s Don Giovanni with the Accademia europea dell’opera.
Originally from St. Catharines, Blair Salter is a freelance collaborative pianist. Blair began piano and completed her ARCT from the Royal Conservatory of Music as a student of John Butler. She completed her Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance at the University of Western Ontario, where she studied with Stephan Sylvestre. Blair recently finished her Master of Music degree in Collaborative Piano at the University of Western Ontario, where she had the privilege of working with John Hess and Mark Payne.
In 2009, she was honoured to perform as a soloist with the Niagara Symphony Orchestra and appeared again with the NSO in April 2011, performing Mozartʼs Piano Concerto No. 21 under the baton of Maestro Uri Mayer. Blair was a pianist at the Canadian Operatic Arts Academy in 2009 and 2010, where she worked with Martin Katz, Eric Melear and Gary Wedow. In 2011, Blair had the opportunity to study Dvořákʼs Rusalka at Opera NUOVA in Edmonton, Alberta. Also in 2011, Blair was a pianist for La Musica Lirica in Novafeltria, Italy. While studying at UWO, she has been a vocal coach for UWOperaʼs productions of La Griselda in 2011 and Die Fledermaus in 2012.
Giovanni Maria Spanu, baritone, is a graduate of the Master of Music in Opera Performance degree at theUniversity of Toronto, where he obtained a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance.
Giovanni performed the role of Dulcamara in L’elisir d’amore by Donizetti with Metro Youth Opera, and looks forward to a second season with the company in Le Magicien by Jean Vallerand. Other operatic performances include Peter in Hansel and Gretel, Leporello in Don Giovanni, Curio in Giulio Cesare, the Hunter in Rusalka, Harlekin in Ariadne auf Naxos, and Antonio in Le Nozze di Figaro. Contemporary pieces include Mr. Moreover in Mr. Moreover’s Magic by Isaiah Bell, Signor Naccarelli in The Light in the Piazza by Adam Guettel and Maximilian in Candide by Bernstein. Giovanni was featured in concert at Massey Hall with St. Michael’s Choir School in performances of Fantasia on Christmas Carols, by Ralph Vaughan Williams.
Upcoming performances include Simone in Gianni Schicchi by Puccini with Essential Opera and Count Carl-Magnus in A Little Night Music by Sondheim at the Halifax Summer Opera Workshop.
Alyson Spina is a recent graduate of the Opera School (M.Mus) at the University of Toronto, studying with Mary Morrison. During her time at the University of Toronto, Alyson appeared in all major mainstage productions – including two of the Mozart and Da Ponte masterpieces: Così fan tutte (Despina) and Don Giovanni (Donna Elvira). She also performed in Poulenc’s Les mamelles de Tirésias as the fiery Thérèse, and had a magical debut to the opera stage in 2010 as the Dew Fairy in Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel. Her most recent summer engagements include the St. Andrew’s-by-the-Sea Opera Workshop (Nedda in Leoncavallo’s I Pagliacci), Opera on the Avalon (Nella in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi), Opera NUOVA (Signora Naccarelli in Guettel’s The Light in the Piazza),and the Center for Opera Studies in Italy (COSI) as La Contessa in the third Mozart/Da Ponte collaboration Le Nozze di Figaro.
She received her B.Mus in Voice Performance from the University of Western Ontario. In addition to her appearance with the UWOpera program in London, Ontario, Alyson also performed as a guest soloist with the Sudbury Symphony Orchestra after winning the INCO Search for Excellence Scholarship for Young Artists in 2009. Her most recent operatic performance was with Dragon OffStage Productions in the role of Beauty in Nowhere Here Now, a new opera by Irene Cortes, and most current concert engagement was singing with the Orillia Wind and Vocal Ensemble as the featured soloist in their Christmas Prelude concert December 2012. She will soon be performing Leonard Bernstein’s Songfest as the soprano soloist with Atelier-S in spring 2013. Alyson also studies part-time with Patricia Misslin in New York, New York.
Alyson grew up in Sudbury, Ontario.
Described as “a dynamic Papageno, with a clear talent for comic acting, and a very agreeable, clear voice” (Opera Canada, 2011),Sri Lankan bass-baritone Janaka Welihinda is establishing himself as a young artist. He has also delivered other comic roles such as Don Alfonso in Così Fan Tutte, Pooh-Bah in The Mikado, Frank in Die Fledermaus, and Ben in The Telephone, to high acclaim. In 2007, Janaka developed the role of Meursault in the Canadian premier of Ian Cherry’s new opera based on the novel by Camus: The Stranger. He holds a Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance from Brandon University and a Masters of Music in Voice Performance from the University of Western Ontario. Janaka is very excited to make his Metro Youth Opera debut as Uberto.
Driven to explore and extend the Singer’s range in the craft of storytelling and performance, Alison began directing as an undergraduate at the Don Wright Faculty of Music at the University of Western Ontario. After completing her Honors Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance, she began her private teaching studio in her native city of Toronto. In 2009 and 2010, she was chosen to complete the Stage Direction Fellowship at the Canadian Operatic Arts Academy. Her recent credits include directing Così fan tutte and L’elisir d’amore with Metro Youth Opera in Toronto and performing in Pelleas et Melisande for Opera aan Zee in Noordwijk, Netherlands. Assistant Director credits include Giulio Cesare for OperaLondon, SONGSPIEL with Sylvia McNair for American Opera Theatre, Dido and Æneas at the international opera festival, Operadagen Rotterdam in the Netherlands, Aureliano in Palmira at the Festival della Valle d’Itria in Martina Franca, Italy, and back home in Toronto, Obeah Opera by Nicole Brooks for b current Performing Arts Co., where she also serves as Artistic Producer. Her upcoming projects include a cabaret adaptation of Mozart’s Don Giovanni, currently in development for 2013-2014.