Artist of the Week 19 Qs for Stephanie Tritchew

by | Mar 6, 2024 | Artist of the Week, Featured, News

Our Artist of the Week is Canadian mezzo-soprano Stephanie Tritchew. In partnership with collaborative pianist Holly Kroeker, Stephanie is performing a series of recitals entitled The Longing Project, which features pieces by Cecilia Livingston, Sarah Kirkland Snider, and world premieres of pieces by Danika Lorèn. The performances are on March 15 and 17 (info and tickets here).

Stephanie is comfortable in both canonic and contemporary opera with recent highlights including Dorabella in Così fan tutte with Edmonton Opera and Kelowna Opera, The Mother in Amahl and the Night Visitors with Vancouver Opera, Stéphano in Calgary Operas Roméo et Juliette, Rosina in Opera 5’s Il barbiere di Siviglia, The Friend in Requiem for a Lost Girl with Vancouver Opera, the Mystic Blindwoman (cover) in Shalimar the Clown at Opera Theatre Saint Louis, and Birgitta in Bandits in the Valley with Tapestry Opera. Stephanie also created the role of Union Organizer in Bicycle Opera‘s Sweat, which is also now a film.

This week we sat down to talk with this grounded artist to talk about what she is currently reading, how she copes with the rejection that comes with being a singer, and how she describes success. Read on to find out more.

 

If you weren’t a singer, you’d be _________?
A Jungian analyst! I am very interested in the psyche and how the subconscious mind deeply affects our dreams, life choices, health etc. I’ve actually looked into becoming a Jungian analyst as a side gig but it’s like 13 years of school, so…

Which opera role do you want to be singing right now?
Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia or Angelina in La Cenerentola

Which opera role do you want to be singing in 10 years?
I’d love to try a Carmen one day!

What are you afraid of?
I was originally going to say “not being liked” but as I sit with that thought, I guess it actually boils down to failure. In this industry, it shows up as a fear of someone thinking I’m not singing well, or doing a good job in the role I’ve been given. It shows up as fear that I won’t be hired or selected for something. But it shows up in other ways too. Fear that I’m being a bad spouse, or a not available enough friend, or a disappointing daughter or sister etc. Really, it’s all a fear of failure of whatever pursuit I’m in.

What’s your ancestry?
My mum was born and raised in Scotland, and immigrated to Canada as an adult. My paternal grandfather (Dadu) was Bulgarian (but we recently learned was born in Crimea), and my paternal grandmother (Baba) was Greek-Macedonian. My dad was born in Canada but he grew up ESL in a very European household. While I’m technically more Scottish, I think I look a lot more Greek and Bulgarian.

What’s your favourite mind-calming practice?
I have a strong daily meditation practice. But I also find a lot of calm painting and knitting/crocheting. If I’m feeling particularly anxious and really need something strong, I will do Wim Hof breathing and recently, I’ve received a lot of benefit from doing Spin class.

What’s the best thing about being an opera artist?
I really enjoy getting to play out different parts of myself. I might not be a baddie, for example, but I might get to play a baddie onstage, or someone super powerful or nasty, or maybe a really strong character! We all have so many parts to ourselves and our personalities, and we often don’t allow ourselves to explore those parts in life, and I think the stage offers a really unique playground to touch into those different facets of who we are.

What was your childhood dream job?
I remember wishing I could be an Apothecary. I used to like pretending I was making potions and medicines out of grass and dirt and flowers and stuff.

Are you happiest in the country or in the city?
I really like being in the city where I can be around inspiring art and see things that are creative, but my nervous system does best in the country. I think ideally, I’ll be able to split my time between both.

What’s your guilty pleasure?
I like Cadbury Mini Eggs and I feel zero guilt about it.

What book are you reading at the moment?
Song Spirals: Sharing women’s wisdom of Country through songlines by Gay’Wu Group of Women

What is the best advice you have ever been given?
“What other people think of you is none of your business”

What is one thing that you cannot live without?
Music.

Do you approach singing and/or upcoming projects differently today than you did at the beginning of your career?
Totally. When I was in school, I sort of flew by the seat of my pants and didn’t really have a method. Now, I like to start by translating the work and listening to the work while following along with the score to get the entire context of the piece. I’ll figure out the most difficult music and start with that, always singing on an [ŋ], then vowels, before going to text. Once I get the music into my voice, body and get it off the page, I start to have fun with characterization in a new way.

The music industry is tough, and filled with rejection. How do you cope? Does it get easier?
It does get easier for me, yes! There’s a still a disappointment of course, but it moves through more quickly. It took me a while to really understand in my body and mind that rejection isn’t personal. There could be hundreds of reasons you weren’t selected for something and often, it has nothing to do with you. There is always missing information, and you will drive yourself crazy trying to figure it out. Once I truly understood that, I was both able to move through it more quickly, and also be truly happy for whomever was selected.

Do you think singers and performers have a more powerful inner life?
I think singers and performers have a unique ability to listen and feel into themselves. I think that makes them more available to access a powerful inner life, but cultivating a rich inner life takes a lot of work, and I don’t think it becomes automatic just because you’re a singer or performer. Like anything, you have to work at feeding it and nourishing it to allow it to grow and bear fruit.

What does it mean to be brave with music?
I think to be brave with music is to come to the table with strong ideas and opinions, to share and try things courageously, to be vulnerable with your artistry, while maintaining an openness to feedback and a flexible mind. I think it’s really brave to take chances and offer bold art without just waiting for the offer to come through your email—I really admire those who create opportunities for themselves like that.

Are you a perfectionist?
Absolutely. It’s really hard because we’re in the industry of live performance and it’s pretty rare that one will perform exactly how they want to. I am very hard on myself and can be extremely unkind to myself because it’s almost impossible for me to perform to my impossibly high standards. This is an area I have to work incredibly hard to overcome.

What does success look like to you?
To me, success would be the ability to live in the present moment with gratitude and not have that be usurped by “should have’s” from the past or anxieties about the future. I think it’s important to acknowledge one’s own feelings and difficulties and not crush that with toxic positivity, but honestly, sometimes I get so focused on what I’m lacking, I forget that I’m safe, loved and that many of my basic needs are met. I would feel very successful if I could enjoy my life and be with what is, rather than focusing on what is not.

LEARN MORE ABOUT STEPHANIE TRITCHEW
VISIT HER WEBSITE
©Opera Kelowna
As Béatrice in Béatrice et Bénédict
Opera Kelowna
©Nanc Price Photography
Dorabella in Così fan tutte, Clarence Fraser as Guglielmo
Edmonton Opera
©Nanc Price Photography
As Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro, Caitlin Wood as Susanna
Edmonton Opera

The Longing Project

March 15 – 17

MEZZO SOPRANO: Stephanie Tritchew
COLLABORATIVE PIANIST: Holly Kroeker

 

Join mezzo soprano Stephanie Tritchew, and pianist Holly Kroeker as they explore the sublime nature and broken-heartedness of longing.

This recital was born from a set of poetry on Longing vs Having by American spiritual teacher, Lee Lozowick. As part of Stephanie’s own investigations and practice, she decided to explore Lozowick’s poetry and complimentary poetry by Sufi poets Rumi and Hafiz, through song. Stephanie commissioned Canadian composer Danika Lorèn to write two song cycles which feature these poems. This recital will be the world premiere of both works.

To speak to the broken-heartedness that accompanies the heart of longing, Stephanie is using the archetype of Penelope who awaits the return of her love, Odysseus, for twenty years.

Program:

LIVINGSTON- Penelope

LORÈN- Three Lyrics by Lee Lozowick*

SNIDER- Penelope
IV. The Lotus Eaters
V. Nausicaa
VI. Circe and the Hanged Man

LORÈN- The Astonishing Light*

*denotes world premiere

Location:
The Cathedral Church of St. Michael & All Angels
608 Sutherland Avenue
Kelowna, BC
V1Y 5X1

Date:
Friday, March 15, 2024
7:30-8:30pm (doors open 7:00pm)

Price:
$25.00

Location:
Pyatt Hall
VSO School of Music
843 Seymour Street
Vancouver, BC
V6B 3L4

Date:
Sunday, March 17, 2024
2:30-3:30pm (doors open 2:00pm)


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