General & Co-Artistic Director
Due to ongoing concerns and limitations imposed by the pandemic, the 2021 Professional Training & Development Program will be taking place ONLINE, July 5th - 30th.
The goal of the Professional Program has always been to educate and empower emerging professional operatic artists through relevant professional training, important new connections, and related skills which would enable them to leave the program stronger and more qualified in every way to advance to the next level of a professional career.
By repeating the format of the highly successful 2020 online Professional Program, HOS 2021 will focus all activities on providing as much training and support, professional and emotional, as we possibly can in the context of the challenges of the extended work stoppage caused by the pandemic. The approach will be to continue to look at the pandemic conditions as an opportunity to slow down, identify and build important professional skills that often can lag behind due to lack of time. Taking care of mental health is a priority and there will be emphasis on positive attitude, perspective, and optimism from all staff, visiting international coaches, and professional consultants.
The 2021 online Professional Program will be FREE OF CHARGE for successful Canadians and Landed Immigrants.
Cost for international participants: $2700 CAD
There is limited financial support for international applicants and will be considered on an individual basis.
Online Application and Audition Requirements:
PLEASE NOTE: The only live in-person activities that are tentatively planned for August 2021, are two 'Opera to Broadway' concerts and the presentation of Mozart's 'Don Giovanni, deferred from the 2020 season. This portion of HOS 2021, should it take place, is completely separate from the online professional program. Purcell's opera,'Dido & Aeneas' will NOT be presented this year. Those cast in 2020 for Mozart's 'Don Giovanni' have been offered first refusal for the deferred 2021 live production (exact August dates TBD), therefore WE CANNOT GUARANTEE AVAILABILITY OF ALL ROLES. Due to ongoing concerns around COVID-19, for a singer to be considered to to join the cast should a role within the opera become available, the singer must be prepared to self-quarantine at their own expense within the province of Ontario as health protocols require.
"My husband and I attended Highland Opera Studio's production of Le Nozze di Figaro and were, in a word, delighted! We have seen many Figaros in our years of opera-going and DVD-collecting – starring many famous artists. We have travelled from the COC to the Met, the Chicago Lyric, the San Francisco and to opera houses in Vienna and Barcelona, where the trappings were finer. But, pound for pound, none was better than this." – Dr. Judy Coldoff
Richard Margison and Valerie Kuinka speak about the Highlands Opera Studio summer program, with glimpses of teaching and coaching segments, including international tenor and master voice teacher, Richard Margison O.C., John Fisher, Director of Music Administration, Metropolitan Opera/Master Vocal Coach; Anthony Manoli, Master Vocal Coach (Coach and Concert Collaborator with soprano, Radvanovsky). Video created by Brenden Friesen.
ALL PREVIOUSLY SCHEDULED 2021 LIVE EVENTS/ACTIVITIES, INCUDING CONCERTS/OPERA PERFOMANCES, and OUTREACH ACTIVITIES ARE CANCELLED. A shorter season of live performances, including two 'Opera to Broadway' concerts and 4 performances of Mozart's opera, 'Don Giovanni' are tentatively planned for August. Updates will be provided as available.
SET IN THE BEAUTIFUL SURROUNDINGS OF THE HALIBURTON HIGHLANDS IN CENTRAL ONTARIO, CANADA, HIGHLANDS OPERA STUDIO PROVIDES ADVANCED OPERATIC EXPERIENCE TO A SELECT GROUP OF TALENTED EMERGING PROFESSIONALS WITH THE MAIN OBJECTIVE TO PROVIDE THESE SINGERS WITH THE NECESSARY SKILLS TO EMBARK ON A CAREER IN OPERA.
Operating out of Haliburton, Ontario, since its creation in 2007, Highlands Opera Studio (produced by Highlands Opera Theatre, a not-for-profit nationally registered charity) is a professional performing arts organization for emerging operatic artists. An advanced summer professional training program and professional development resource to assist singers/pianists make the transition into the professional world, the focus is not only on performance and production excellence, but on top level coaching and professional development/networking with the goal of expanding employment opportunities both nationally and internationally. Established opera professionals (international artist agents, vocal coaches, general directors of professional opera companies, etc.) are invited to interact with and advise our participants during the intensive 5 week August season, resulting in new connections, many leading to employment and/or artist representation (national and international).
In a non-pandemic year, core activities also include 17-19 live public events/ performances: multiple performances of 2-3 fully staged operas, 3-4 public masterclasses, 5-6 concerts (including operatic, musical theatre, and Art Song repertoire), free community events, and the Highlands Opera Community School, where local amateur singers can receive lessons and interact with the young visiting professionals of the main program.
The Opera Studio singers/pianists are chosen from across Canada and internationally through a rigorous competitive audition process that takes place annually in January and February [NB: 2021 online submissions only deadline April 16th]. The 20-25 participants, once chosen out of the pool of 160+ annual applicants, attend the program free of charge (Canadians citizens, and landed immigrants).
The successful candidates are divided into three divisions within the program: Apprentice (19-25 years of age), Professional (no age limit), and Independent Study (no age limit). Members of the Apprentice division are cast as covers and chorus. The Professional Division are cast in lead roles. The Independent Study Division is available for a very select number of highly qualified applicants who submit a proposal to use our professional resources to follow a personal project (eg. Operatic role study, Art Song recital preparation, competition or audition tour preparation, etc.). All participants in every division participate in all training and professional development activities and opportunities.
Highlands Opera Studio is the collaborative partner of l’Atelier lyrique de l’Opéra de Montréal.
Experiencing in live performance the power and beauty of the unamplified trained human singing voice at its best can stir deep emotion and change the world.
“The art form [of opera] when done right...takes the breath away, moves the human heart, soul, and spirit, and creates excitement like no other.”
Alice Coote, mezzo-soprano
HOS has grown steadily since 2007, from a 3-week program with 7 participants, to a 5-week program with 20-25 participants and the same number of staff and professional consultants. The company has been guided fiscally and artistically throughout this time by the General and Artistic Directors, Valerie Kuinka and Richard Margison, in conjunction with the Board of Directors, and the Accounting/General Management Personnel of Highlands Opera Theatre. HOS has never run a deficit and has maintained balanced financial statements since 2007.
Except for a modest one time administration fee of $400 [fee waived for 2021], ALL SUCCESSFUL CANADIAN PARTICIPANTS ATTEND THE 5-WEEK PROGRAM FREE OF CHARGE. THE COST TO HIGHLANDS OPERA STUDIO IS APPROXIMATELY $15,000 PER PARTICIPANT. This covers ALL TUITION, PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT & AUDITION OPPORTUNITIES, ACCOMMODATION, & 2 MEALS PER DAY, 6 days a week.
Fundraising is an ongoing and primary concern, and is an annual challenge.
The majority of funding has come from the private sector, including occasional individual corporate donations and ongoing support from BMO Financial Group, government support (Ontario Arts Council Opera Project grants, EODP through the Haliburton County Development Corporation (HCDC), fundraising events, individual donations, and revenue generated by ticket sales. In 2017 we received funding from Canada Council New Chapter and Canadian Heritage: Canada 150 Fund supporting the creation and presentation of ‘Mishaabooz’s Realm/Le Royaume de Michabous’, by Cree First Nation composer and librettist, Andrew Balfour. This new opera creation and presentation was in partnership with l’Atelier lyrique de l’Opéra de Montréal.
Since 2007, we have received and continue to build strong support and commitment from the community of Haliburton through a strong volunteer base and small managerial staff.
Suzanne Taffot, LLB, Soprano (HOS ‘17, ‘18)
Andrew Balfour, composer (Mishaabooz’s Realm, HOS commission, 2017)
Samuel Chan, baritone (HOS ‘16, ‘17)
Matthew Gamble, baritone (HOS ‘14, ‘17)
Chantale Nurse, soprano (HOS ‘14, ‘15)
Highlands Opera Studio is operated by Highlands Opera Theatre, a not-for-profit organization. Donations are gratefully accepted and tax-receipts are issued after the end of each calendar year.
Tax deductible donations can be made to "Highlands Opera Theatre". Please write a memo stating the money is for Highlands Opera Studio.
Charitable Registration Number 822457263 RR0001
Highlands Opera Studio is extremely grateful for the generosity of the following organizations and individual lead donors of $5000 or more who are supporting our 2021 activities.
Special Thanks to Nada Ristich
John & Thea Patterson
Margaret Swaine & Dr. Bill Siegel
Vanda Treiser in memory of Benjamin Treiser
We could not proceed without you!
We are also extremely grateful to all those who have donated the value of their tickets purchased for the 2020 season. Stay tuned for 2021 activities!
Victoria Conservatory of Music
Vancouver Opera, Calgary Opera
Yorkminster Park Baptist Church, Toronto
Opéra de Montréal
National Opera Centre, New York
Auditions for the 2021 online program are coming up soon.
If you're interested in being notified about future auditions, please fill in your contact info below.
APPLY NOW: Highlands Opera Studio 2021: Professional Training & Development
July 5th - 30th (Online)
Application deadline: April 23rd, 11:59 pm
Click here to apply for 2021 Professional program
COMING SOON: Join us online Sundays @3pm for 'Reflections & Expressions', a series of short concerts featuring current and past HOS singers and pianists, as they share music that is important to them and why. Series partially sponsored by a generous bequest from Mme. la Juge, Anne-Marie Trahan. Visit our Calendar page
COMMUNITY SCHOOL: Missing live singing? Need a fun & safe outlet during lockdown?...and even afterwards? Join us for singing lessons ONLINE! All styles, from pop & jazz to classical. ALL AGES! FREE INTRODUCTORY LESSON for residents of Haliburton County! Visit our Community School