Artist of the Week 23 Qs for Amanda Testini

by | Dec 5, 2023 | Artist of the Week, Featured, News

Our Artist of the Week is Canadian-Italian stage director, choreographer, and performer Amanda Testini who is currently directing Edmonton Opera‘s holiday production Home for the Holidays on December 11 (tickets and details here).

Most recently, Amanda was the assistant director for The Magic Flute with Vancouver Opera where she completed two seasons as the Stage Director in the prestigious Yulanda M. Faris Young Artist Program. Other recent engagements include The Rip Van Winkles and La bohème as assistant director with The Glimmerglass Festival,  choreographer of The Kitchen with Studio 58, and movement consultant on The Birds with Theatre UBC. Amanda’s choreography can currently be seen in East Van Panto – Beauty and the Beast, a co-prodcution between Theatre Replacement and The Cultchrunning until January 7th (info and tickets here)!

This week we sat down to talk about what inspires this interdisciplinary artists, what she is currently reading,  and how she attracts good “juju” while on contract. Read on to find out more!

Drink of choice?
I’m a drink girlie so my idea of heaven would be having 3 drinks ready and on hand at all times: a sparkling water, a strong coffee, and a green juice.

Heels or flats?
Flats! Sneakers, particularly.

What’s the strangest/funniest thing that has happened to you on stage?
I broke my foot doing a ball-change performing in High School Musical 2 at the Centennial Theatre when I was 17 years old. Finished the act, but at intermission I headed to the hospital. A wild time for teenage Amanda!

What was the first opera you ever saw?

The first bit of opera I had ever seen was a rehearsal of Rattenbury: A New Canadian Opera with Pacific Opera Victoria. I was working on a show at the Belfry with my mentor, Amiel Gladstone, who was directing the POV workshop of this opera, and I asked to attend rehearsal out of curiosity. When I saw the maestro, Arthur Arnold, conducting, I thought it was one of the most beautiful and passionate forms of movement I had ever seen, and couldn’t believe the emotional richness the voices of the singers could convey. From there my crush on opera developed and here I am!

What’s your ancestry?
Italian-Canadian! My mom is from Molise, Italy and immigrated to Canada in  the 1960s with her family. My father’s side is from Abruzzo, immigrating over  in the 1950s. 

What’s your favourite mind-calming practice?
I love a good journaling session.

What’s your favourite non-classical band?
Right now, I’m really digging Wet Leg.

Where did you go to school?
Randolph Academy for the Performing Arts, then Studio 58.

What’s the best thing about being an opera artist?  
Being around great music and passionate people all the time.

What was your childhood dream job?
I wanted to be a singer, an artist and a teacher.

Which album did you listen to last?
Hadestown Original Broadway Cast Recording.

What book are you reading at the moment?
I’m reading 2 right now: Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah (a witty, deep, haunting collection of short stories) and Practices: Raving by McKenzie Wark (a theoretic view on raving as a queer/trans movement practice).


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A post shared by Nana Kwame (@king_nk)

Which TV show did you binge-watch last?
Couples Therapy, and now halfway into The Last Dance.

Do you believe in ghosts?

What’s a big investment for an opera artist, but totally worth it?
Travelling for long periods of time/being away from home for a project. So rewarding, I learn so much about myself and the world by being exposed to new communities and stepping outside my comfort zone, but I do always miss home.

Are you superstitious? If yes, can you share what it’s about?
A bit. I usually wear my cornicello (horn) (an Italian charm to keep away the malocchio (evil eye)), I keep certain trinkets that hold meaning for me close by for good juju. I also get into little ‘routines’ when I work on a show. On one process, me and a collaborator wore converse everyday of rehearsal. It started on accident but then part way through I realized that they were now my rehearsal shoes for that show – I felt incomplete if I wasn’t wearing them.

If you could be stuck in an elevator with one person, who would it be?
Lady Gaga.

What is one very popular thing that you have no interest in?
Star Wars.

Do you approach upcoming projects differently today than you did at the beginning of your career?
Absolutely. I’m a tinkerer for sure – I’m always adjusting my creative structure and the way I prep. There are some things that I keep the same, but I often adjust to integrate something new I’ve learned, or to improve an aspect I think could be better.

Who has been inspiring you lately?
I’m watching the Last Dance right now, so Michael Jordan – his rigour, his devotion, his positive attitude, the way he holds his team to a high standard.

Were there any directors in the past that have really inspired you?
So many! E Loren Meeker, Joel Ivany, Brenna Corner, Ami Gladstone, Meg Roe, Anita Rochon, Ashlie Corcoran… I could go on. I feel fortunate for having been exposed to many directors who know how to tell a story in a beautiful, playful, clear way, and who have styles of leadership I aspire to. Watching them work has influenced my directing greatly.

How old were you when you discovered opera?

What is happiness to you?
Sharing a meal with people I love.
Spending time in nature.
Making art with my friends.

© Evan Zimmerman
Glimmerglass Festival rehearsal of La bohème. Featuring Josh Blue and Nan Wang
© Tim Matheson
Vancouver Opera’s Cavalleria rusticana 

Home for the Holidays
Edmonton Opera

December 11, 2023

CO-MUSIC DIRECTORS Simon Rivard and Shannon Hiebert

AMAHL Ellie Morison
THE MOTHER Julie Lumsden
KING KASPAR Joseph Chambrinho
KING MELCHIOR Bertrand Raymond Malo
THE PAGE Douglas Graham

PIANIST Frances Armstrong

Celebrate the holiday season with Edmonton Opera’s ‘Home for the Holidays,’ now in its third year at the Jubilee Auditorium. This cherished family-friendly concert promises an evening of sing-along joy and the heartwarming story of Amahl and the Night Visitors.

The story of Amahl and the Night Visitors follows the journey of Amahl, a boy who walks with a crutch and often tells tall tales. It’s a tale of compassion, healing, and the miraculous arrival of three splendidly dressed kings who are on a quest to visit a wondrous child. This remarkable story, offered alongside carols with the Edmonton Opera Chorus, adds a special layer of holiday spirit to our event. Join us for a stellar night that brings together the magic of the season, music, community, and a heartwarming story.

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