Just before COVID, I was a Masters’ student at U of T, performing in Mansfield Park—a super fun show that we had just opened.
We’d joke, “Broadway was closed, but U of T was still open.” We performed one show, and then school closed. It was a surreal and scary time.
I was lucky, though, as a performer. Right before the pandemic, I’d secured a role in the Canadian Opera Company’s Studio Ensemble, and the COC decided to keep us on during the “season.” They let us train, we had coaches, and we were compensated. They could have so easily cut the program, but they kept the program running—thankfully.
More recently, when we were invited back by the COC to start rehearsals for live performances, a lot of us had this puppy energy. It was just so exciting. Even tasks that seemed mundane, pre-COVID, were thrilling—may I never have to do a week of Zoom coachings again.
I started working with Against the Grain Theatre’s Joel Ivany in the summer of 2019—during an opera residency at Banff Centre.
It was the most invigorating, artistic experience. Joel has such an awesome vibe, and being in the mountains makes you want to cry every day; it’s so beautiful.
Requiem soloists (left to right) Marion Newman, Midori Marsh, and Vartan Gabrielian—Photo by Taylor Long
Requiem was the first piece of music I ever performed professionally, with the Guelph Orchestra, as a student.
It was so painfully exciting, and I was quaking in my boots. I was so nervous because I was the youngest of all the soloists. At one rehearsal, I missed an entrance because the music was so beautiful that I got caught up in how the chorus sounded. It’s such a sweeping, enthralling piece of music.
When I was asked to take part in this production—with Against the Grain and the COC—it felt incredible to go back to Requiem and to do it so differently—paying service to the true drama of this incredible piece. It has the power to make people feel and to make people think.
This time around, I felt a little older, wiser, calmer, and more sure about it.