June 14, 2019 10:25 pm
Updated: June 14, 2019 10:29 pm

Edmonton operatic and theatre company hitting high notes of success

Opera Nuova participants rehearsing in 2019.

Supplied by Opera Nuova/Kim Mattice Wanat

An Edmonton-based operatic and musical theatre summer program is making its mark on the international stage.

Opera Nuova welcomes university students from across Canada to foster their skills as operatic vocalists and collaborative pianists for six weeks.

Founder and artistic director Kim Mattice Wanat said the company was created to bridge the gap between post-secondary and the professional world.

READ MORE: One of Canada’s most celebrated sopranos is returning to the opera stage after a decade

“Our goal is to support artists,” Mattice Wanat said. “When I began Opera Nuova, singers were coming out of school with incredible tools from an academic point of view, but not necessarily skill-sets that were going to move them onto the stage. They were still being trained in a very traditional way.

“At the time, most universities were not doing full-scale production.”

Singers and collaborative pianists from around the country flocked to train with the non-profit, now in its 21st year.

Watch below: Some Global News videos about Opera Nuova.

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After two decades of training, Mattice Wanat said the Edmonton-based company has been gaining recognition across North America and beyond.

“We have a lot of artists who have wonderful careers in Canada, in Europe, the U.S.,” she said. “A few artists have gone on to Broadway.

“If I’m seeking out a conductor, I’ll be reaching out and thinking, ‘Of course they won’t have heard about Edmonton’s Opera Nuova.’ I just did that in Britain. They emailed me back and said, ‘Not only have I heard about it, I’ve heard great things. I’d love to come and be a part of this program.'”

Listen below: Edmonton operatic and theatre company hitting high notes of success

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The program is a strong representation of Canadian talent, with all provinces and territories taking part at some point in its history.

“There are 60 singers here,” Mattice Wanat said. “We don’t have someone from the Northwest Territories this year, but that’s it.”

Hayley Stacey is performing in Edmonton at the annual Nuova Opera & Music Theatre Festival. She will finish her degree at the University of Manitoba in September. Stacey will be playing Mary Lennox in The Secret Garden.

“This musical mixes so many styles,” Stacey said. “Some characters sing more operatic lines, others more folk-inspired. It’s really cool.

“We’re going six days a week for rehearsals. It’s an inspiring group to work with. Finding that passion and letting it inspire you in other places has been really rewarding.”

Local artists are also being featured in the upcoming production.

Fourteen-year-old Adam Skogstad, an Edmonton-area performer, is playing the role of Colin.

“The scene in Edmonton is so incredible,” Skogstad said.

“There are so many interesting shows to watch. There are so many talented people in Edmonton. I’m so happy to be a part of this community.

“Everyone there teaches me so much. It’s a really great learning environment. The older students make it so welcoming for me.”

Mattice Wanat said the performance is also the chance to see exceptional artistry in your own community.

“Families can see a work of art and all of these Canadian artists who are here in Edmonton ready to share their incredible talent,” she said.

The Opera Nuova’s production of The Secret Garden begins on June 26. You can buy tickets to the festival here.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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