The seven finalists for the COC’s Centre Stage have been announced. Centre Stage is a singing competition and gals that serves as a sort of final audition for the following year’s Ensemble Studio, a contest for cash prizes and a beano for the rich. This year it’s being held on November 3rd when, unfortunately, I shall be overseas. So, no report here. The finalists are baritone Samuel Chan (Calgary); soprano Maria Lacey (St. John’s, N.L.); soprano Myriam Leblanc (Saint-Lazare, Que.); soprano Andrea Lett (Prince Albert, Sask.); mezzo-soprano Simone McIntosh(Vancouver); soprano Andrea Núñez (Markham, Ont.); and baritone Geoffrey Schellenberg (Vancouver).
Only two of them are known to me. Andrea Lett is one I’ve seen a couple of times. She’s a natural comedienne and great mover and, most recently, impressed with I am the wife of Mao Tse Tung from Nixon in China at a Barbara Hannigan masterclass/recital. That suggests she’s developing more as a pure vocalist. I’ve also seen Simone McIntosh a couple of times. She was a fine Béatrice with MYOpera in 2015. She showed she was truly a stage animal with a very decent voice. More recently she impressed at Toronto Summer Music with a powerful rendering of Berg’s Nacht; one of the bolder rep choices in the Artsong ReGeneration concert.
It does create an interesting situation. Six of eight current Ensemble Studio singers are in their first year and the more experienced ones are both tenors. It’s hard to imagine how one could fit in even more sopranos and mezzos in the short term. We shall see.