Heidi Klassen, Soprano
Andrew Greenwood, Baritone
Karen Shumka, Piano Collaborator
Luis Angel Medina & Sylvia Del Garcia, Guitar
*For artist biographies, please scroll down.*
Tenor - Sergio Flores
Mezzos - Jennifer Ashley, Bonnie Dodds
Sopranos - Trudy Chalmers, Camilla Shi, Kelly Nobles, Sylvia Del Garcia
Baritone - Marco del Rio
Heidi Klassen, Soprano
Soprano Heidi Klassen has been firmly established as one of Canada’s most versatile and exciting performers having sung with Canada’s leading orchestras and opera companies in a career that spans over 30 years. Internationally Ms. Klassen has sung with the Dallas Symphony, the Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra of Budapest, the BBC Scottish Orchestra and BBC Radio and toured extensively in Europe with live recordings at the Rudolfinum in Prague of Verdi’s Requiem and Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis.
Ms. Klassen’s performances have been described as “…unforgettable, rare and serenely beautiful,” Brahm’s Requiem (London Press); “boundless…a voice of stunning range, clarity and sonority”, Verdi’s Requiem (Waterloo Reporter) and “one could wait a long time, perhaps forever, to hear expressive singing to equal that of Heidi Klassen,” Mozart’s Mass in C Minor (Winnipeg Free Press). She has brought many roles to the operatic stage including Fiordiligi in Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte with Montreal Opera, Countess Almaviva in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro with Manitoba Opera, and Opera Saskatchewan, Donna Elvira in Mozart’s Don Giovanni with Manitoba Opera, Musetta in Puccini’s La Boheme with Edmonton Opera, Opera Lyra Ottawa, Opera Grand Rapids and Opera Saskatchewan. Rosalinde in Strauss’ Die Fledermaus, with Edmonton Opera and Opera Lyra Ottawa; Micaela in Bizet’s Carmen, with Edmonton Opera, Pacific Opera Victoria, and Gold Coast Opera, Florida, Blanche in Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmelites, and First Lady in Mozart’s Die Zauberflote with Vancouver Opera; Miss Jessel in Britten’s The Turn of the Screw and Camilla in Nosferatu, with Manitoba Opera, a role written for Ms. Klassen by composer Randolph Peters. Her performance of Violetta in Verdi’s La Traviata was described as “moving beyond words, drenched with expressiveness” and “shimmering with sonic tenderness” (London Press).
Continue biography by clicking here.
Andrew Greenwood, Baritone
“Another discovery was the Amonasro of Andrew Greenwood. The young baritone from Vancouver’s voice has a seductive texture. His focused but nevertheless round sound had sufficient power and at the same time creamy elegance. He was able to manipulate Aida with an extremely refined and beautiful vocal sound.” Das Opernglas, February 2011.
Recent engagements include: the role of Amonasro in Aida for the Stadttheater Hildesheim; Zuniga in Carmen and The Doctor in Samuel Barber’s Vanessa for Pacific Opera Victoria; the title role in Rigoletto for the Stadttheater Hildesheim, and the Stadttheater Wolfsburg, Germany; the roles of Prince Yamadori and The Imperial Commissioner in Madama Butterfly for Vancouver Opera; the title roles in Macbeth, and Nabucco, Enrico in Lucia di Lammermoor, and Germont in La Traviata for Vancouver’s Opera Pro Cantanti; the role of the Emperor in Der Kaiser von Atlantis for City Opera Vancouver; the role of Count Almaviva in the 2006 Okanagan Vocal Arts Festival’s production of Le nozze di Figaro; Marcello in La bohème for UBC Opera, the 2005 Okanagan Vocal Arts Festival, and for Vancouver Island Opera; Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia for Vancouver Island Opera; Danilo in The Merry Widow for Burnaby Lyric Opera; and guest appearances with UBC Opera in the title roles of Falstaff and Eugene Onegin.
Additional Canadian credits include appearances with: Pacific Opera Victoria as King Alonso in Hoiby’s The Tempest, as both Morales and El Dancaïro in Carmen, Angelotti in Tosca, Monterone in Rigoletto, and Baron Douphol in La Traviata; Burnaby Lyric Opera as Figaro in The Barber of Seville, Dandini in Rossini’s Cinderella, Malatesta in Don Pasquale, and Peter in Hansel and Gretel; and UBC Opera as John Proctor in The Crucible, Smirnov in William Walton’s The Bear, and Peter in Hansel and Gretel. Andrew has also appeared with other opera companies in the Lower Mainland, such as Opera Breve, Western Concert Opera, and Modern Baroque Opera.
Also in demand as a concert and oratorio singer, Mr. Greenwood frequents such works as Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, Handel’s Messiah, Mendelssohn's Elijah, Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy and Symphony No. Nine, Dvorák’s Stabat Mater, Saint-Saëns’ Christmas Oratorio, the Bach Passions, as well as the Requiems of Verdi, Mozart, Brahms, Fauré and Duruflé. Some of the organizations he has sung with include: Virginia’s Opera Roanoke Orchestra, the Vancouver Symphony, the Victoria Symphony, Vancouver Cantata Singers, the Prince George Symphony, the Vancouver Bach Choir, Festival Vancouver, the West Coast Symphony, the Kamloops Symphony, Sinfonia of the North Shore, the Chilliwack Symphony, the Okanagan Festival Singers, the Fraser Valley Symphony, the Vancouver Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Vancouver Island Symphony.
In 2001 Andrew performed the role of John Proctor in the Czech Republic premiere of The Crucible, by Robert Ward. He then went on to debut the roles of Escamillo in Carmen and Germont in La Traviata at the Prague State Opera. Additional European credits include: the roles of Marcello in La bohème for Opera Studio de Genève, Switzerland, and The Ferryman in Benjamin Britten’s Curlew River in Lausanne, Switzerland and Cuenca, Spain.
Karen Shumka, piano collaborator
Karen Shumka enjoyed a long and successful career as a pianist, repetiteur, and music director, before crossing into the world of business, where she built a collaborative, global team of entrepreneurs in the Health & Wellness Industry and quickly rose to the top of the company.
During this business chapter, it was difficult for Karen to repeatedly turn down musical opportunities and to say “not yet” to her favorite singers. Therefore, after several years of just a few rare guest appearances as a collaborative pianist, Karen is looking forward to sharing her insights and perspective with fresh eyes and in the words of Steve Jobs: “connecting the dots”. Connecting the dots backwards - from the world of business where she became a student of energy, visualization, passion, and communication - back into the world of passion and communication in music through piano, voice and text; because of the invite of Heidi Klassen, for whom she holds the highest respect and passion to play for.
The Opera Project Singers
Students of Heidi Klassen
Sergio Flores, tenor
“I was born in Mexico. The experience, the culture, and the people that surrounded me are the foundation on which I stand today.”
Sergio Augusto Flores believes that sharing stories on the stage is the most effective method of communication. Thanks to their human factor and to the impact of the language, he feels that these aural works of art, in their many forms, bring us closer to balance and understanding.
As an actor and director, Sergio trained at Methodica Acting Studio under Asen Gadjalov and completed studies at Capilano University for Music. As an opera singer, Sergio maintains vocal training with one of Canada’s treasures, internationally renowned soprano Heidi Klassen, who has guided him for years in the way of true sound.
Sergio is recognized for his dramatic flair and his charming approach as a performer. He appears regularly as a soloist and in ensemble opera with many companies across the Lower Mainland, and he has also performed in concerts and oratorio across Italy, Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic.
Sergio’s latest appearances include a very successful self-produced concert of operatic arias with the Bowen Island Classical Concert Series; an English Arias concert with Opera Mariposa, where his interpretation of Menotti’s music was praised by The Vancouver Project for its “timeless appeal ” and described as “a clear highlight of the evening”; and his performance in Mozart’s Requiem with Capilano University, which was described by the Vancouver Observer as “full of vigor, charisma, and infectious enthusiasm.”
Upcoming engagements include the crafting of a concert of Latin music for tenor, baritone, guitar and percussion, and a tour of the Lower Mainland with Opera Mariposa’s winter opera Hansel and Gretel, where he will sing the role of The Gingerbread Witch.
“Lastly, I want to express my gratitude for every experience that Canada has provided since 2007. I am glad to have found a way to pay it forward.”
Jennifer Ashley, mezzo-soprano
Jennifer originally studied Jazz Guitar and Jazz Voice at Capilano University, but decided to pursue classical singing after being introduced to the passionate emotion and beautiful sounds of Opera. She currently trains in classical techniques with internationally renowned soprano Heidi Klassen and British mezzo-soprano Sarah Fryer.
When Jennifer is not performing and touring with Jazz ensembles, choral groups and operatic productions, she has reinforced her versatility by performing professionally in the dance styles of Raqs Sharqi, Argentine Tango and Salsa. She has continued her love affair with the stage through scene studies with the Lyric School for Actors, and is currently studying the Meisner Technique with Actorium.
Some of Jennifer’s operatic role highlights include Dido in Dido and Aeneas with St. Michael’s University School; Marcellina in Le nozze di Figaro with both Opera ViVace and The Opera Project; Third Lady in Die Zauberflöte with The Opera Project, Opera ViVace and the International Lyric Academy of Rome; Lucia in Cavalleria rusticana with Opera Appassionata; Bukki in Oholibah and Her Lovers with University of Victoria Opera; Esmeralda in Prodana nevesta with Opera NUOVA; and both La badessa and La maestra from Suor Angelica with Burnaby Lyric Opera. Other vocal performance highlights include soloist in Ladies Sing Kurt Weill with Opera Appassionata and the Alto Soloist in Bach’s Cantata 198 ‘Trauerode’ with Vancouver Voices and in Vivaldi’sGloria with The Postmodern Camerata.
Bonnie Dodds, contralto
Bonnie Dodds is a student of renowned soprano, Heidi Klassen. Bonnie's most recent performance was the role of La Principessa in Suor Angelica with Opera Mariposa. Previous to this, the role of Zita in Gianni Schicchi for the Opera Project, The Confession Stone (a song cycle) by Canadian composer Robert Fleming and the alto solos in the Pergolesi Stabat Mater at St. Mary’s Kerrisdale Anglican Church, the role of La podesta (originally a tenor role) in La finta giardiniera and La badessa in Suor Angelica for Opera Appassionata, as Mme de la Haltiere in Cendrillon for Vancouver Academy Opera, and as a member Vancouver Opera Chorus in productions that include Turandot, The Dialogues of the Carmelites, Macbeth, Cavalleria Rusticana/I Pagliacci, Eugene Onegin, Carmen and Norma.
Previous roles include the Maid in Jenufa, alto in Trio of Emmissaries in The Architect for Vancouver Opera Association, Mrs. Noye in Noye’s Fludde for Music in the Morning, Mme Larina in Eugene Onegin for Pacific Opera, Bianca in The Rape of Lucretia, Florence in Albert Herring for Banff Festival Opera and alto 2 in No No Miya for the Vancouver New Music Society.
Bonnie is a graduate of the University of Western Ontario, where she studied opera for five years under director Martin Chambers and part-time coach/director Jacqueline Richard. Since university, she has been a member and soloist with the Vancouver Chamber Choir, a chorus member with the Vancouver Opera, a recitalist and oratorio performer, and has maintained an active voice studio. In addition, she participated in the Contemporary British Repertoire Course at the Aldeburgh School for Advanced Musical Performance and was a semi-finalist in the Eckhardt-Gramatté National Voice Competition.
Additional performances include three recitals of Brahms, Strauss and Mahler, selections from her CD Treasures in Song, several oratorio performances and a CD release recital in June 2007.
Trudy Chalmers, soprano
Vancouver-born soprano Trudy Chalmers began her vocal studies with Russian teacher Nona Mari before graduating from Capilano University’s music program. Trudy has sung lieder recitals in England and in Vancouver, and has performed in nine different operas with leading roles as Giulietta in Bellini’s I Capuleti et I Montecchi, Lucia from Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor and Adalgisa from Bellini’s Norma. Trudy now trains with renowned soprano Heidi Klassen and has opened her own opera company, called Opera Opulenza, due to open this January.
Camilla Shi, soprano
After graduating from Capilano University for music with Honors, soprano Camilla Shi is continuing her pursuit of music on the operatic stage. She has had the absolute joy and privilege of studying with amazing Canadian soprano Heidi Klassen, and will be continuing her studies at the Vancouver Academy of Music.
Ever since she was a child, Camilla has loved to sing. She began her musical training, however, with the cello, which led her into the world of Western classical music. The beauty, the splendour, and the drama of opera captivated her. She is incredibly excited to join The Opera Project on a venture of love for making music.
With choir director Lars Kaario at Capilano University, Camilla sang as a soloist for Vaughan Williams’ Mass, W. A. Mozart’s Regina coeli, Antonio Vivaldi’s Beatus vir, and Philip Stopford’s Lully, lulla, lullay. With Opera Mariposa, she has performed as Suor Genovieffa in Puccini's Suor Angelica.
Kelly Nobles, soprano
Kelly Nobles is a professional music instructor and performer. She has performed locally and abroad as a soloist in art song, oratorio, and opera including Mozart's Cosi fan tutte, Brahms' Ein Deutsches Requiem, Dvorak's Stabat Mater and Handel's Messiah, and on the operetta stage has played the principal roles in Lehar's Land of Smiles and Kalman's Countess Maritza. Most recently, she has appeared as Mimi in La Boheme and Violetta in La Traviata with the Opera Project. She resides in North Vancouver with her husband, composer Jordan Nobles, and son Julian.
Sylvia del Valle Garcia
Lyric soprano Sylvia del Valle Garcia has cultivated a devoted international following wherever she appears, whether in concert or recital, on television, radio or on disc.
Sylvia began her career at the age of 10, landing a coveted role on the Calgary Safety Roundup, a highly popular local television series. After 6 successful seasons as a featured singer on the show, Sylvia’s career took her to Vancouver where in 1986, she was awarded the ‘Best Performer’ Award for her series of show stopping performances in the B.C. Pavilion at the World Expo. Among other highlights was a critically acclaimed concert at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre, several guest appearances on radio and television, including CBC’s own Vikki Gabereau, the Variety Club Telethon and performances at countless public and private venues throughout the Pacific Northwest.
After her marriage in 1987 to an American filmmaker, Sylvia relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area, where she resumed her career without missing a beat. In her first foray into musical theatre, Sylvia earned solid reviews as Adelaide in the Marin Civic Light Opera Production of Guys and Dolls. She followed that up with a lead role as Mercedes in the Novato Lyric Opera Association’s production of Carmen.
Sylvia moved to Los Angeles in 1989 where she immediately broke into the world of movies and television, performing on soundtracks for theatrical feature films such as the Warner Bros. release Cat’s Don’t Dance, Twentieth Century Fox’s Film, The Pagemaster, as well as the Emmy award winning television series Animaniacs.
Sylvia del Valle Garcia’s career has been built on success across a wide range of musical styles, and this diversity of excellence in reflected in her CD recording. Edith Piaf’s La Vie en Rose, Mimi’s aria Mi Chiamano Mimi from La Boheme and Sarah Mclaughlin’s Angel are a testament to the breadth of Sylvia’s talent.
Marco Del Rio, baritone
Marco Del Rio likes singing. He also likes oboe, tin whistle, piano, saxophone, erhu, and, to be honest, pretty much anything that makes sound. He likes conducting too, although that doesn’t really make any sounds if you’re doing it right.
Marco studied at Capilano University for three years before transferring to the University of British Columbia, where he received his B.Mus. He is now doing his practicum year in the B.Ed program at UBC, aiming to become a secondary music teacher. He also co-directs a small choir called “VanDeca”, and gigs with two other bands – Celtic folk band “Elsay” and hard rock/metal band “Dalziel”.
Some of Marco’s favourite pastimes are eating sushi, arranging absolutely anything for choirs, playing artsy video games, jamming to Celtic music, overanalyzing metal music, and revelling in crunchy chords and close harmonies.