This week’s Artist of the Week is the multitalented bass baritone Peter Monaghan. Currently in Edmonton, he is in rehearsals for Edmonton Opera‘s upcoming production of Don Giovanni, where he will be performing the role of Masetto, running Feb 1-3 (info and tickets here). Edmonton Opera is featured in our current Winter Print Issue, where new Executive Director Sue Fitzsimmons, discusses EO’s big 60th Anniversary.
Known for his fantastic stage presence, Peter has thrilled audiences across Canada. Some of his career highlights include performing Snug in Vancouver Opera‘s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Cesare Angelotti in Edmonton Opera’s Tosca, Masetto in Pacific Opera Victoria‘s Don Giovanni, Antonio in Edmonton Opera and Vancouver Opera’s Le nozze di Figaro, and Caterpiller/Cheshire Cat in Pacific Opera Victoria’s filmed version of The Garden of Alice. Peter is also busy on the concert stage with recent performances in Handel’s Messiah with Calgary Philharmonic and Brahm‘s Requiem with Lethbridge Symphony. Later this season, you can catch Peter with Symphony of the Kootenays in their Broadway Pops Concert on Feb 24 (tickets here), as Antonio in Pacific Opera Victoria’s Le nozze di Figaro, April 3-9 (tickets here), and in Mozart’s Grand Mass in C Minor with Lethbridge Symphony, May 6 (tickets here).
This week, Peter shares with us what inspired him to start singing, when he knew he wanted to become an opera singer and the importance of time when it comes to developing as an artist and singer. Read on to find out more.
When was your first singing lesson (and with whom)?
My first lesson was when I was 21 or 22, and with Blaine Hensbee at the University of Lethbridge.
What/who inspired you to sing?
I was originally a trumpet major, but had the opportunity to sing with the U of L Singers at the time. George Evelyn, who later became my first voice teacher, pulled me aside to tell me that I should consider voice lessons. It worked out George!
I call this my happy place, it’s in the bonus room of our house, kind of a second living room, a safe place where our little boy can play and my wife and I can relax/chat/watch TV and enjoy the day.
What’s your favourite thing about singing with an orchestra?
The support. There is nothing like it, that feeling of having so much sounds with you and support musically, you feel like you can do anything.
What are you afraid of?
Failing, always hard as a performer, “is this what they want?”, “will the audience like or appreciate this?”. You wear your heart on your sleeve, even with the smallest roles. It’s a fear that we face and re-conquer with every show.
Are there more musicians in your family?
Nope, I am the first! I have a musical family and some cousins that enjoy playing guitar and singing etc, but no one who has pursued it as a career.
Which TV show did you binge-watch last?
Friends haha, My wife and I have certain shows that are our “Background” shows. These are on while we are doing other things, like translating an opera, or just playing with our boy. Friends/The Office/Gilmore girls are probably some of our top choices.
What’s the best thing about being an opera artist?
Meeting people from all over the globe. When you spend time together for a solid 4 weeks, you develop strong friendships. Then when you have the opportunity to see them again, generally you pick up where you left off. So much support around the world.
Do you sing in the shower?
When I’m on a contract I do! It’s a nice place to steam the vocal cords, warm up before heading to rehearsal. But at home I do not.
When did you know you wanted to be an opera singer?
I always loved being a part of shows/plays/opera/musical theatre, but it wasn’t until I moved to Vancouver in 2010 and had the opportunity to be in the chorus for Vancouver Opera‘s production of Romeo and Juliet, I realised I really wanted to do this. The scale, the characters, the voices…
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
You are only meant to hear something when you are ready to hear it. Someone may have given you an instruction many many times, but you won’t hear, like truly understand it, until you are ready to implement it. not to get down on yourself for missing it.
The music industry is tough, and filled with rejection. How do you cope? Does it get easier?
I’ve struggled with this at times. I learned that you can’t go into an audition thinking you “need” this. If you don’t get it, nothing changes, but if you do, it’s a bonus. Once you can let go of that “need” for a gig, generally you relax and show yourself more in the audition. It does get easier, but when you have drive and passion for getting started, it’s hard to let go.
What does success look like to you?
I believe myself to be successful now. I have a beautiful family, a home. We are genuinely happy. And to top it off, I get to sing 🙂
What’s the downside of being an opera artist?
You are away a lot, yes you get to travel and get to be in many cities, but that’s at the sacrifice of your family being at home.
What’s a big investment for an opera artist, but totally worth it?
Time, you can say financially, lessons, training ect… but the true investment is time. You have to take time to prepare the music, to practice and keep the voice in shape. You have to invest a lot of your “extra” time as an investment in yourself. Sometimes that comes at the sacrifice or doing things with others. With that sacrifice of time, you will find yourself with more confidence in spending quality time with others, and not be worried about what’s next, or what work is still yet to be done.
What’s the most important lesson you learned from childhood?
To listen, be an observer, what do others need? This translates directly to being on stage.
LEARN MORE ABOUT PETER MONAGHAN
VISIT HIS WEBSITE
© Mackenzie Lawrence Photography
Caterpillar in Pacific Opera Victoria’s The Garden of Alice
© Nanc Price Photography
Cesare Angelotti in Edmonton Opera’s Tosca
Feb 1 & 3
CONDUCTOR: Simon Rivard
DIRECTOR/LIBRETTIST: Joel Ivany
SET AND COSTUME DESIGN: Michael Gianfrancesco
LIGHTING DESIGN: Kimberly Purtell
CHORUS DIRECTOR: Shannon Hiebert
HEAD COACH: Frances Armstrong
DON GIOVANNI: Elliot Madore
DONNA ANNA: Jonelle Sills
DONNA ELVIRA: Andrea Núñez
DON OTTAVIO: Andrea Núñez
LEPORELLO: Justin Welsh
ZERLINA: Mireille Asselin
MASETTO: Peter Monaghan
COMMENDATORE: Benjamin Sieverding
EDMONTON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
EDMONTON OPERA CHORUS
After incredibly successful performances at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa and Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, we’re bringing the tale of irresistible Don Giovanni to Edmonton.
The timeless music and an incredible cast will bring the emotionally charged world of desire, love and betrayal to life with this performance, followed by the captivating Edmonton Symphony Orchestra.
With the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and Edmonton Opera Chorus. New English libretto by our Artistic Director, Joel Ivany.
*There are no recitatives and dialogue in place for the performance. Total running time for the opera, including the intermission, is 2 hours and 20 minutes.
*This performance contains mature themes and language that may be inappropriate for younger audiences.
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