This week’s Artist of the Week is celebrated Canadian soprano Simone Osborne. She is currently braving the cold and in rehearsals for The Elixir of Love with Calgary Opera, where she is starring as Adina, running Feb 3-9 (info and tickets here).
A crowd-favourite from the beginning of her career (she is one of the Metropolitan Opera Competition‘s youngest winners, ever), she has wowed audiences across the country with her various performances. Since completing her time with Canadian Opera Company’s Ensemble Studio, she has returned their stage many times; as Musetta in La bohème, Gretel in Hänsel and Gretel, Micaela in Carmen, Oscar in Un ballo in maschera, and Marguerite Riel in the touring production of Louis Riel.
In the brief moments between rehearsals, Simone was generous to sit down with us to chat about her current and future dream roles, who is a source of inspiration for her artistry (this one will warm your heart), and what it means to be brave in music making. Read on to find out the details!
Favourite city that you’ve worked in?
It would be impossible to choose just one, but I could probably narrow it down to Paris, Prague, Hong Kong or New York. There’s something about the energy of these cities – all very different, but all unique and inspiring. And the food…
If you weren’t a singer, you’d be:
A human rights lawyer.
What’s your favourite opera house?
The Four Seasons Centre in Toronto holds a very special place in my heart. I started working there at 22 years old and did a lot of growing up within those walls. Going back to many familiar faces behind the scenes, and on the stage, reminds me how many truly great people there are in our business. And the acoustics of the place aren’t half bad either!
Which opera role do you want to be singing right now?
Lucia, Donna Anna, Norina, Manon, Violetta, Konstanze, Lulu. I mean, the truth is that I WANT to be singing Tosca. But I shouldn’t – not now and likely not ever!
Which opera role do you want to be singing in 10 years?
Mimi? Suor Angelica? The Donizetti Queens? Who knows. That’s up the my body and throat.
Who is a singer you admire that is currently working?
If I’m honest, my husband, Gordon Bintner. For his total dedication to his craft and quiet, dedicated way of working. His instrument is so incredibly beautiful, but it’s matched by his profound artistry…in my completely unbiased opinion! The way he can flip that switch off and come home to be the most present and doting father ever, is nothing short of awe inspiring.
Who is a singer you admired from the past?
Callas. Of course.
What’s your favourite thing about singing with an orchestra?
Everything. It’s a gift. Every single time.
What’s something most people don’t know about opera life?
We are usually paid per performance. So if we rehearse for weeks and get sick for the shows…and now you understand why many singers you meet are high strung and anxiety ridden much of the time!
Coffee or tea?
Coffee. All day, every day.
What’s your ancestry?
Half Persian on one side and Icelandic on the other side with some Irish and English in there for good measure.
Are there more musicians in your family? If yes, who and what do they play/sing?
Where did you go to school?
University of British Columbia.
What’s the luckiest thing that has ever happened to you?
There are two. 1. Meeting my husband. 2. Having our daughter.
What’s the downside of being an opera artist?
Missing out on family events and celebrations, living far away from extended family, and having to split our own little family up when both my husband and I are on opera contracts at the same time in different places.
Are you a cat person or dog person?
Dog. My sweet morkie, Gatsby, has been carted around the world a more than a few times over the last 11 years. He should be flying first class at this point.
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Are you happiest in the country or in the city?
I’m a city girl. But ideally, that’s water/nature adjacent…you can take the girl out of BC….
Which album did you listen to last?
Laufey – an Icelandic singer-songwriter. “Bewitched”
What’s a big investment for an opera artist, but totally worth it?
Regular singing lessons and coachings with the RIGHT teacher for you and coaches that specialise in the repertoire you are exploring.
What is one very popular thing that you have no interest in?
Nude lip stick.
The music industry is tough, and filled with rejection. How do you cope? Does it get easier?
By becoming a person you feel good about off the stage. And by doing the artistic work, for the sake of doing good work – not to please or impress anyone. If you do those things there’s nothing anyone can take away from you.
Were there any directors in the past that have really inspired you?
I have loved working with Chris Alden, Nancy Hermiston – the head of opera at UBC was the first major inspiration of my musical career for many reasons, and my current director on this Elisir in Calgary, Pablo Maritano, is exceedingly inspiring and utterly brilliant! It’s a pleasure to come to work with him every day. I’m SURE there are more that I am forgetting…I’m sorry in advance!
How old were you when you discovered opera?
Does your process change from role to role?
No. Same nuts and bolts every time. Maybe some extra preparation for project specific asks like an unusual or new language (Cree, anyone?) dancing or a special skill. But beyond that no. It all needs and deserves the same attention and process.
What does it mean to be brave with music?
To not care for a second what anyone else thinks of your interpretation, sound or delivery. A hell of a lot harder than it sounds.
Does performing in different locations impact your performance?
Definitely! It’s currently -45, at altitude and dry as the Sahara here in Calgary. All of a singers favourite things! (But the people and the piece definitely make up for it!)
Which of your roles has had the greatest impact on your perspective?
Marguerite Riel in Louis Riel. That was a life altering role and experience.
LEARN MORE ABOUT SIMONE OSBORNE
VISIT HER WEBSITE
© Bo Huang
Vancouver Opera’s Roméo et Juliette
The Elixer of Love
Feb 3, 4, 7, and 9
CONDUCTOR: Farkhad Khudyev
DIRECTOR: Pablo Maritano
ADINA: Simone Osborne
NEMORINO: David Portillo
BELCORE: Andrew Love
DR. DULCAMARA: Ao Li
GIANNETTA: Christina Thanisch-Smith*
ADINA (FEB 4): Nicole Leung*
NEMORINO (FEB 4): Elias Theocharidis*
BELCORE (FEB 4): Connor Hoppenbrouwers*
DR. DULCAMARA: Branden Olsen*
With the The Calgary Opera Chorus
The Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra
*Denotes member of the McPhee Artist Development Program
Gaetano Donizetti’s The Elixir of Love is a light and lyrical comedy in the bel canto style. It is an opera with the tenderest of hearts and the sweetest of melodies, including Nemorino’s beloved aria ‘Una furtiva lagrima’.
Sophisticated and wealthy, Adina is the most eligible young woman in her small Italian town. The clumsy but endearing Nemorino loves her, but she only has eyes for Belcore, the dashing sergeant who has swept her off her feet. When a travelling doctor arrives in town, Nemorino buys a magical love potion from him in the hopes of winning Adina’s affections. Will the elixir be the cure-all for Adina’s indifference and secure a “happily ever after” ending for the couple?
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