Emily D’Angelo took first prize and the audience choice award at the Canadian Opera Company’s Ensemble Studio Competition (photo of the competition finals by Michael Cooper)

U of T undergrad places first in Canadian Opera Company competition

For the second year in a row, winner comes from Faculty of Music

Mezzo-soprano Emily D’Angelo, a fourth-year undergraduate in the Faculty of Music’s voice studies program, has won the prestigious first prize and the audience choice award at the Canadian Opera Company’s Ensemble Studio Competition, Centre Stage.

D’Angelo was chosen from 120 applicants and then a final round of eight singers from across Canada. Two other finalists are Faculty of Music alumni – baritone Zachary Read and soprano Eliza Johnson

D’Angelo accepted her awards at the final competition on November 3 at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. Karine Boucher and Charles Sy hosted the event; the latter won last year’s first prize and audience choice award as well. 

“To work with the world-class music staff at the Canadian Opera Company was a great honour, and it was a pleasure to meet and learn from the other extremely talented finalists,” says D’Angelo. “The competition was an experience I will treasure for the rest of my life. The incredible energy of the audience demonstrated what a supportive community we have in Toronto, and was a very moving example of the overwhelming power of music.”

The first prize, a $5,000 reward, is supported by the chair of the Canadian Opera Company’s Board of Directors. The audience choice prize is worth $1,500. 

“Since its inception in 2011, Centre Stage has become one of the most important annual events for the Canadian Opera Company and is quickly gaining a reputation as one of this country’s foremost vocal competitions,” says Alexander Neef, the general director for the Canadian Opera Company. “The reason why is clear after witnessing the performances by these talented singers from across Canada. There is an amazing operatic pedigree being cultivated in this country and Centre Stage is a celebration of that talent and the potential they have to enrich Canada’s artistic future.”

This is just the latest in an ever-expanding list of accolades for D’Angelo. This year, she has already won an Encouragement Award from the Gerda Lissner Foundation Lieder/ArtSong Competition and the Jim and Charlotte Norcop Prize in Song from the Faculty of Music and was selected as a finalist for both the Mary Trueman Art Song Competition in New York City and the OREL Foundation Rediscovered Voices Competition in Los Angeles. 

D’Angelo has been taught by soprano Elizabeth McDonald, a sessional lecturer at the Faculty of Music, since she was 16 – from high school to university. 

“This is a young woman who has worked harder than anybody I know,” says McDonald. “She’s been persistent, is driven and has sought out opportunities beyond what has ever been suggested. She goes from opportunity to opportunity to strength to strength. And ultimately, she realizes that her performance isn’t really about her, it’s about being part of the collective of musicians on stage and the audience in the hall, which is admirable.”

D’Angelo has previously played the roles of Sesto in Giulio Cesare at the Halifax Summer Opera Festival, Nerone in L'incoronazione di Poppea, Annio in La clemenza di Tito at the Centre for Opera Studies in Italy, Berta in The Barber of Seville at Opera York and Cherubino in scenes from The Marriage of Figaro in a U of T Opera production. D’Angelo has participated in young artists programs at the Ravinia Festival, SongFest at Colburn and Boston University Tanglewood Institute. She made her solo debut with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in 2011.

D’Angelo will sing at the Norcop Prize in Song recital with pianist Sonya Sim at Walter Hall in March 2016. This summer, she will join the Gerdine Young Artist program at Opera Theatre Saint Louis to play the role of the mystic/blind woman in the world premiere of Shalimar the Clown, and cover the role of composer in Ariadne auf Naxos

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