Soprano sings opera – minus the horns

The Vivace production of Don Giovanni is July 31, Aug. 1-2, 7 p.m. at the University of Victoria MacLaurin Building

Up and coming Victoria-based opera singer Sarah Vardy is performing in Don Giovanni at the University of Victoria next week. The busy 33-year-old soprano will be auditioning in Germany

Sarah Vardy has a couple of hours to study her music at home before hopping a ferry to Vancouver to perform in the Marriage of Figaro. Between managing auditions around the world, refining her voice and actual performances, Victoria’s rising opera star has little time to catch her breath.

The 33-year-old soprano who lives in Langford has her year set out before her. She’s earned the right to study under Canadian tenor Richard Margison in Hamilton, Ont., for August. In September, she’s been invited to a vocal competition in Palermo, Italy, followed by a three-week opera concert tour of China over Christmas.

Somehow she’ll squeeze in auditions in German opera houses this fall and winter after being invited back, based on a three-month tour earlier this year.

In the meantime, Vardy is fine-tuning her thunderous voice under American vocal coach Luke Housner, who is leading the Marriage of Figaro this week in Vancouver, followed by Mozart’s Don Giovanni at the University of Victoria next week.

Becoming an opera singer is a childhood dream of Vardy’s, but it’s a relentless schedule of performance and practice just to get a chance to audition for a job.

“Competition is fierce, especially being a soprano. Everybody is a soprano,” Vardy says. “You’ve got to look to your strengths and what you bring to the table that is different.”

For Vardy, that would be her deep, penetrating voice that can cut through a full orchestra. It’s the kind of classic voice people associate with opera.

“I sing a more dramatic repertoire. Verdi, Puccini, any Romantic repertoire,” Vardy says. “Anything that that involves death and destruction. It’s definitely a stereotype … what I sing is the stereotype of opera, minus the horns.”

The Don Giovanni public performances are the products of week-long opera workshops for young up-and-coming performers. Like any instrument, Vardy’s voice needs tuning and crafting to make sure her vowels are perfectly formed and her Italian, French or German hits the right dialect. She likens it to golf – even Tiger Woods never stops working on his swing.

“You never arrive at a point in opera singing where you say, ‘Now I’m done,’” Vardy says. “Your voice changes, you have different roles and repertoires. Now I’m working on half-screw turns … it’s a little tweaking all the time, every day.”

In Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Vardy has the role of Donna Anna, who spends most of the opera trying to solve and then avenge the death of her father. Performed in Italian with English subtitles, Vardy says Mozart writes operas that are accessible and easy to follow, and has familiar music scores that have filtered into popular culture.

Shifting gears to Donna Anna from her recent Countess role in Figaro is a welcome challenge that takes Vardy out of her comfort zone.

“This role is high note after high note. (Donna Anna) is melodramatic. She comes across as agitated,” she says. “It’s a challenge, but a good challenge.”

The Vivace production of Don Giovanni is July 31, Aug. 1-2, 7 p.m. at the University of Victoria MacLaurin Building, Music Wing room B037. Tickets are $10.

Just Posted

Peninsula students taking advantage of French activities

Canadian Parents for French help organize and promote activities

Monday sees rain with high of 10 C

Plus your weekly forecast

Number of ancient humans continues to grow after discovery

Scientists identify at least 12 species outside of Homo sapians following discovery in Philippines

Peninsula grandmothers salute Roaring ’20s fashion

May 3 event in Sidney benefits Grandmothers Helping African Grandmothers

Sri Lanka invokes war-time military powers after nearly 300 killed in Easter bombings

Sri Lanka’s minister of tourism says 39 foreign tourists were killed in the Easter Sunday attacks

POLL: How often does your family use BC Ferries?

Navigating the lineups for BC Ferries is a way of life for… Continue reading

Crime Stoppers most wanted for Greater Victoria for the week of April 16

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Bodies of 3 mountain climbers recovered after last week’s Banff avalanche

The men disappeared while attempting to climb the east face of Howse Peak in the Icefields Parkway

Happy birthday: Queen Elizabeth II turns 93 on Easter Sunday

Sunday is the first of two birthday celebrations each year for the queen

RCMP confirm witnesses say body found at Kelowna’s Gyro Beach

Police tape is blocking part of the beach and several RCMP officers are on scene.

B.C. fire department rescues kittens

Enderby homeowner not aware kittens in wood pile near garbage pile fire that got out of hand

QUIZ: How much do you know about Easter?

Take this short quiz and put your knowledge to the test

Most Read