This week’s Artist of the Week is Canadian soprano Jane Archibald; a favourite with the Canadian Opera Company, she returns to Toronto this month to star as Vixen in Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen, running Jan 26 – Feb 16 (tickets and info here). Opening night is just a couple weeks away!
Jane has garnered an international reputation with performances including Alcina in Handel’s Alcina with Glyndebourne, Cunegonde in Bernstein‘s Candide with the London Symphony Orchestra, and Adele in Strauss’s Die Fledermaus with the Metropolitan Opera House. After Jane’s time in Toronto she will join the Hamburg Symphony Orchestra to perform a programme of Mozart, Brahms and Strauss on Mar 10 (tickets and info here).
Lucky for us, Jane was generous enough to share a few moments in between Vixen rehearsals to tell us about the ups and downs of the industry, her drinks of choice, and how she manages her perfectionism.
When was your first singing lesson (and with whom)?
My very first singing lesson was with my amazing school music teacher, Mary Shephard, who was also a neighbour and family friend. But my first voice teacher, with whom I worked for 6 years, was Leslie Lake Searle, with whom I remain close to this day.
Drink of choice?
Daytime: latte with whole milk; Evening: any cream liqueur in winter, Aperol in summer.
Top 3 favourite composers
Strauss, Handel, Mozart
What’s your favourite thing about singing with an orchestra?
The colours!! The variety of sounds, shades and dynamics that an orchestra can produce is thrilling. And its ability to be velvety soft or harshly percussive, and everything in between, is really inspiring for me as a singer… it gives me such a wonderful springboard for imagination when crafting my own phrases. Plus, there’s no substitue for the sheer size and force of a big band underneath you as you “lift off” on a dramatic moment together.
Tent or hotel?
Are you kidding me? HOTEL!!!! (Though, to be fair, we did buy an RV this past summer as a renovation project, which has been a fun- an ongoing- undertaking!!)
Coffee or tea?
Coffee, but always with milk or cream!
What was the first opera you ever saw?
Don Giovanni at Dalhousie University. My voice teacher, Leslie, was singing Zerlina!
What’s your ancestry?
I’ve not done any “23and me” type DNA research, but as far as I can tell from family genealogy, I’m mostly Scottish!
Where did you go to school?
I went to Wilfrid Laurier University and I’m a very proud alumna of that awesome institution! I was thrilled to receive an honourary doctorate from the school last June!!
What’s the downside of being an opera artist?
The loneliness and isolation of being on the road, hands-down. Not everyone struggles with that, but I definitely do!
What’s the best thing about being an opera artist?
The absolute ecstasy of singing your heart out on a beautiful phrase, with an entire orchestra lifting you up!
Are you a cat person or dog person?
I may alienate some folks here with this answer, but… I’m not really an animal person. I’m sort of neutral. That said, we live with two lovely cats, Findus and Doucement (named by my daughter, who is VERY MUCH a cat person). They are Siamese, and super social and they have wormed their way into my “neutral” heart.
Are you happiest in the country or in the city?
City! I really love a temporary escape to the country, especially the ocean, but I am most at home surrounded by people and activity. I am an introvert, so I like to be surrounded by people doing their own thing, but not necessarily interacting with them! I get to be alone without feeling too alone, if that makes any sense?
Do you sing in the shower?
Rarely! Usually only when I’m worried about the voice as the steam is a nice environment for testing it out gently, or if I’m running late for time and needing to multi-task by warming up while I shampoo!
What’s a big investment for an opera artist, but totally worth it?
LANGUAGE! It’s a time, rather than money, investment. It takes forever to really learn and speak a new language, but the difference it makes in one’s singing is immeasurable.
When was the first time you cried at the opera?
I find it interesting that this is considered a given! I actually don’t think I ever have, despite identifying as a very sensitive and emotional person! I have frequently been deeply, deeply moved and found moments achingly beautiful, but have never actually cried, that I can remember.
Are you a perfectionist?
Oh yes. But I’m learning (a lifelong journey) to keep it in check! Wielded carefully, my perfectionism has been a definite help in my career, but one does need to know when to let things go and acknowledge that “good enough” often is truly good enough!
LEARN MORE ABOUT JANE ARCHIBALD
VISIT HER WEBSITE
© Bertrand Stofleth
The Abduction from the Seraglio – Opéra de Lyon
COC Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre Recital
The Cunning Little Vixen
Canadian Opera Company
Jan 26 – Feb 16
DIRECTOR: Jamie Manton
ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR: Ruth Knight
ASSISTANT DIRECTOR:Anna Theodosakis
SET AND COSTUME DESIGNER: Tom Scutt
LIGHTING DESIGNER: Lucy Carter
MOVEMENT DIRECTOR: Jenny Ogilvie
STAGE MANAGER: Stephanie Marrs
ASSISTANT STAGE MANAGER:
ASSISTANT STAGE MANAGER:
PRICE FAMILY CHORUS MASTER:
FIGHT AND INTIMACY COORDINATOR: Siobhan Richardson
VIXEN (SHARP EARS): Jane Archibald
FOX (GOLD-STRIPE): Ema Nikolovska
FORESTER: Christopher Purves
PARSON/BADGER: Giles Tomkins
FORESTER’S WIFE/OWL: Megan Latham
LÁPAK, A DOG: Carolyn Sproule
With the COC Orchestra and Chorus
When a forest gamekeeper traps a fox and attempts to domesticate her, their encounter leads to a poignant reflection on the natural cycle of life and death, as well as our relationship with the planet. This inspiring opera invites audiences to reflect on the advancing toll of climate change and the importance of cultivating a harmonious interrelationship with the natural world.
Canadian soprano and COC favourite Jane Archibald stars as the clever fox, Sharp Ears, while COC Music Director Johannes Debus leads the COC Orchestra through Czech composer Leoš Janáček’s lush score.
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