KATHLEEN ALLAN • biography
CONDUCTOR, COMPOSER, SOPRANO
Kathleen Allan is the Artistic Director and Conductor of the Amadeus Choir of Greater Toronto and the Artistic Director of Canzona, Winnipeg’s professional Baroque choir. Originally from St. John’s, NL, Ms. Allan is in high demand as a conductor, composer and clinician and is equally comfortable working in early, contemporary, and symphonic repertoire. Recent guest conducting engagements include the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra, the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra and Early Music Vancouver. In 2015, Ms. Allan made her Asian debut conducting Handel’s Messiah and Bach’s Christmas Oratorio in Japan, and in 2016, she was the recipient of the Sir Ernest MacMillan Prize in Choral Conducting. She is a founding co-Artistic Director of Arkora, an electric vocal chamber consort dedicated to blurring lines between the music of our time and masterworks from the ancient repertoire.
Her compositions have been commissioned, performed and recorded by ensembles throughout the Americas and Europe and have been featured at two World Symposiums on Choral Music. Her collaboration with Labrador youth choir Ullugiagâtsuk was featured at the National Arts Centre celebrations for Canada 150 on July 1, 2017. Her music is published by Boosey and Hawkes, Cypress Choral Music, and is a MusicSpoke composer. Also an accomplished soprano, she has appeared as a soloist with the National Broadcast Orchestra, Berkshire Choral Festival, and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. In addition to freelancing regularly in Canada and the US, she has performed with the Vancouver Chamber Choir, the Arnold Schoenberg Chor (Vienna), Skylark Vocal Ensemble (Atlanta), and the Yale Schola Cantorum. She holds a degree in composition from the University of British Columbia and a master’s degree in conducting from Yale University.
JENNIFER TAVERNER • biography
Soprano Jennifer Taverner has been described as “resplendent and captivating” (Ottawa Life) and is in demand as a soloist with orchestras and opera companies across Canada, in works ranging from baroque to contemporary.
As Armida with Pacific Opera Victoria in Handel's Rinaldo, she “brought great menace to the role... innovative in her cadenzas with an incredibly pure tone and brilliant precision” (Schmopera). In Tapestry Opera’s Bandits in the Valley, Now Magazine wrote “Taverner is ravishing as the diva – what a treat to hear her creamy soprano up close”.
Jennifer sang the role of Elizabeth in Kamouraska (Wilson) with Toronto’s Voicebox: Opera in Concert and starred as Fiordiligi in Cosi fan Tutte in her debut with Edmonton Opera. Jennifer looks forward to her return to Pacific Opera Victoria as Ortlinde in Wagner’s Die Walküre in 2023.
Concert performances include Messiah with Victoria Symphony, Mozart’s Laudate Dominum and Beethoven’s Mass in C with Bach¬ Elgar Choir, Bach’s Mass in B Minor with Toronto Mendelssohn Choir and Mahler’s Fourth Symphony with Niagara Symphony. This season, Jennifer adds Chorus Niagara and Ontario Philharmonic to her Messiah credits.
Jennifer performed in Vivier’s Kopernikus with Against the Grain Theatre at Banff Centre, and in Soundstreams Canada and Signal Theatre’s double¬-bill of Two Odysseys: Pimooteewin/Gállábártnit (Hui/Byström), operas sung in Cree and Sàmi, rooted in traditional tales from Canada and Nordic cultures.
Jennifer is featured in several OperaBreaks cinematic videos, directed by François Racine and produced during the pandemic by Domoney Artists.
MARJORIE MALTAIS • biography
Marjorie Maltais, mezzo soprano
Mezzo soprano Marjorie Maltais is rapidly developing an excellent reputation on both concert and operatic stages throughout North America. A native of Clermont, Quebec, Marjorie won First Prize at the Ottawa Choral Society’s New Discoveries Competition in 2016, leading to engagements with Grand Philharmonic Choir, Chorus Niagara, Peterborough Singers and Montreal’s Choeur¬ St¬-Laurent.
This season, Marjorie debuts with Pacific Opera Victoria as Mercedes in Carmen and performs with Pennsylvania’s LyricFest in “A Singer’s Singer: Biography in Music” about Winnaretta Singer, American heiress and patroness in Paris. Marjorie debuts with Thunder Bay Symphony and Ontario Philharmonic in performances of Handel’s Messiah. Marjorie is a frequent guest artist with Toronto’s Voicebox:Opera in Concert, most recently singing Erika in Vanessa.
During the pandemic, Marjorie starred in “Everything comes to a Head”, the first in Decameron Opera Coalition’s series of short green¬screen digital operas, and “Tales from a Safe Distance”, inspired by Boccaccio’s novellas written in the 14th Century to pass the time while sheltering from the plague in Florence. Marjorie is featured in several OperaBreaks videos directed by François Racine and produced by Domoney Artists during the pandemic.
Recent highlights for this engaging young artist include a brilliant debut with Boston Early Music Festival in performances of “Versailles:Portrait of a Royal Domain” (Charpentier and Lalande), Messiah with Elmer Iseler Singers, Bach’s Magnificat with Thirteen Strings, and the premiere of Ian Cusson’s song cycle “Le récital des anges” (poetry by Emile Nelligan), at Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre, Canadian Opera Company.
Marjorie has appeared as a guest soloist with Les Boréades de Montréal, with Windsor Symphony, Boise Philharmonic, Regina Symphony Orchestra, Montréal’s Orchestre Métropolitain, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, and Edinburgh International Festival.
Marjorie Maltais and tenor/accordionist Jacques Arsenault join their considerable talents as French Squeeze, presenting original arrangements of their favourite French songs from Canada and France in recent performances in Prince Edward Island and Toronto. In 2023, French Squeeze joined Kingston’s Cantabile Choirs in “La Vie en Rose”.
JEAN-PHILIPPE LAZURE • biography
Jean-Philippe Lazure is a graduate of the Canadian Opera Company’s elite Ensemble Studio where he sang Don Curzio in their production of Le Nozze di Figaro, and Conte Almaviva in Il Barbiere di Siviglia. Mr. Lazure portrayed Cartier and Father André in the Canadian Opera Company’s acclaimed production of Louis Riel in Toronto, Ottawa and Quebec.
In demand as a soloist with orchestras and choirs throughout Canada, Jean-Philippe recently debuted with Winnipeg Symphony in Handel’s Solomon. In 2023, he was the tenor soloist in "God, Thy Earth is Aflame" by Latvian composer Lucija Garuta, with Ottawa Choral Society and in the world premiere of Water (Martin) with Grand Philharmonic Choir and Kitchener - Waterloo Symphony. Jean¬-Philippe has performed Messiah with Gatineau Symphony Orchestra and Windsor Symphony, Eternal Light (Goodall) with Ottawa Choral Society, St. Matthew Passion with Choeur Classique de Montreal and Bach’s Lutheran Masses with Choeur St. Laurent.
This season, Jean¬-Philippe sang Remendado in Carmen with Canadian Opera Company. Holly Harris, writing for Opera Canada, declared - “…fine debut of Canadian tenor Jean-Philippe Lazure as Ferrando, whose mesmerizing performance of “Un’aura amarosa” rightfully earned loud applause and cheers of bravo from the crowd.” Jean - Philippe returns to Manitoba Opera as Remendado in their 2024 production of Carmen.
Further performances include the title role of Arturo in Lucia di Lammermoor with Jeunesses Musicales, the title role of Candide at Banff Centre for the Arts and as Georgie in Opera on the Avalon’s 2018 production of OURS (Estacio), commemorating the Royal Newfoundland Regiment in World War I.
KORIN THOMAS-SMITH • biography
"Thomas-Smith could not be a better Figaro. He skillfully plays his character with charm, wit, and energy that is constantly bouncing off of his Susanna. His warm rich tones fill the theatre..."- (Schmopera)
Named one of CBC Music’s 30 hot classical musicians under 30 in 2021, Canadian baritone Korin Thomas-Smith has been carving a place for himself in the North American music scene.
As a Young Artist at the Glimmerglass Festival in 2023, Korin sings as Argante in Handel’s Rinaldo, singing alongside countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo in a new production, and covering Maximillian in the remount of Francesca Zambello and Eric Sean Fogel’s production of Candide. Korin and other Young Artists joined acclaimed singer-songwriter Natalie Merchant in a concert of her works in the Alice Busch Opera Theatre.
Korin joins the Canadian Opera Company in their Ensemble Studio for the 2023/2024 season, where he will make his COC debut in Puccini’s La Boheme, as well as performances in Janacek’s The Cunning Little Vixen and Donizetti’s Don Pasquale, where he will be taking the mainstage on two special nights. Korin also covers Schaunard in La Boheme and Masetto in Don Giovanni.
Making a name for himself in competition, Korin was awarded Third Prize in the Gerda Lissner International Vocal Competition in 2023, culminating in a Carnegie Hall debut concert performance. He was a District winner of the Metropolitan Opera Laffont Competition, advancing to the next stage where he was awarded Third Place in the New England region in 2023. He was a finalist in the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio Competition, the Opera de Montreal Atelier Lyrique, and Korin is honoured to be supported by the Sylva Gelber Music Foundation as a scholarship recipient in 2022.
Korin is a recent graduate of Yale University, receiving his Master of Musical Arts under tutelage of Adriana Zabala and Gerald Martin Moore. Korin had the privilege to perform roles such as Tarquinius in The Rape of Lucretia, Raimbaud in Le Comte Ory and Dottore Dulcamara in L’elisir d’amore.
Korin has been a fellow at esteemed institutions such as the Music Academy of the West and the Ravinia Steans Music Institute, where he performed and masterclassed with Matthew Polenzani. Born and raised in Toronto, Korin has had the opportunity of creating and working with Toronto companies such as Tapestry Opera, Citadel+Compagnie, and Against the Grain Theatre. Korin is a proud alumnus of the University of Toronto Opera and the Royal Conservatory of Music’s Rebanks Family Fellowship and Residency Program.
by John Green
GEORGE FREDERIC HANDEL (1685-1759)
“To him I bend the knee. For Handel is the greatest, ablest composer that ever lived.” Ludwig van Beethoven
Weighty praise indeed, especially when the author is none other than Beethoven. But success usually comes at a price and Handel’s circumstance was no exception. By 1715 he was undoubtedly the greatest composer alive; yet fate, with its indiscriminate way of doing things, was to see his impregnable position in music swept into complete ruin. During his 50s, Handel came to realize that his past triumphs as an opera composer were finished. Overcome with debt, he was headed for disgrace and possible imprisonment. He was faced with finding a new sphere, a new success in order to achieve even greater productivity. It emerged in the form of the oratorio of which he completed no less than 32.
The titanic Messiah, unquestionably the greatest oratorio ever written, was completed in 1742. Brilliant in concept, unfaltering in expression and eloquence, it stands as one of mankind’s most grandiose conceptions. In a mere 25 days, most of them without sleep or food, Handel produced a creation that could only have come to fruition under the direction of divine inspiration. Not known necessarily as a man of high religious principles—certainly not to the same extent as Bach or Haydn—Handel nevertheless said of himself, “I did think I did see all of heaven before me, and the Great God Himself!” Perhaps what is more telling than anything are the words he confided to his physician years later: “I think God has visited me.”