Little Opera Company
Little Opera Company
Production & Cast
Edmonton born soprano Ana Toumine is currently based in Montreal where she is studying under the creative eye of Dominique Labelle. Most recently, Toumine performed as Rosalinde in Opera McGill’s Die Fledermaus. In 2016, she made three role debuts: as the title role of Alcina  with Opera McGill, Mimí in La Bohème at Opera Nuova, and Anna Glawari in The Merry Widow with the McGill Savoy Society.  This year, Toumine was honored to be nominated as a semi-finalist for the Elizabeth Wirth Vocal Competition at the Schulich School of Music. In past years, Toumine was a recipient of the North Dakota district Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions Encouragement Award, as well as a 2015 Alberta Foundation of the Arts Training and Career Development Grant. That same year, she was selected to participate in Winnipeg’s ACI Mentorship program where she received opportunities to perform in recital with Little Opera Company, as well as shadow the role of Musette in Manitoba Opera’s production of La Bohème.  This May, Toumine completed her Master of Music in Voice and Opera Performance at  McGill University. She also holds a Bachelor of Music in Opera Performance from the University of British Columbia, and a Post-Bacc Diploma in Performance from the University of Manitoba. She continues to coach with Michael McMahon, Stephen Hargreaves, and Tracy Dahl. Upcoming, Ana can be seen performing at the Banff Centre for the Arts and Creativity – Open Space: Opera in the 21 st  Century program in July, and in Opera Kelowna’s La Bohème as Mimi, in August.
Mezzo-Soprano, Lois Watson-Lyons began her professional career singing on CBC Television’s “Hymn-Sing” Program and with a performance of Handel’s MESSIAH with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. She has appeared in opera, oratorio and concert performances in Canada and Europe (Austria, Germany, Italy, Spain, Finland). She made her operatic debut in Menotti’s The Consul at the Klagenfurt Theatre in Austria. She performed the role of Dinah in Bernstein’s opera Trouble In Tahiti in Vienna. She has been a regular soloist with the Manitoba Opera since 1989, singing many comprimario roles in operas such as Traviata, Rigoletto, Barber of Seville, Salome, Diologues of the Carmelites, Nosferatu, Macbeth and in the role of Mama Lucia in Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana. She also toured in the role of the Old Maid in Menotti’s The Old Maid and the Thief. Her most recent role was that of the Witch in Hansel and Gretel in 2015 with The Little Opera Company. Lois has participated in Master classes with such performers as Elly Ameling, Hans Hotter, Jorg Demus, Erik Werba, Maureen Forrester and Sir Peter Pears. Lois has worked with conductors such as Uri Mayer, Piero Gamba, K. Koizumi, Simon Streatfield and Bramwell Tovey. Lois also holds an A Mus. in recorder, is a member of MRMTA and NATS. Many of her students have gone on to have their own singing careers.  She was a vocal instructor at CMBC/CMU for over 25 years. She presently teaches at the Faculty of Music of the U of M, and also teaches in her private studio. Watson-Lyons is a frequent adjudicator and workshop clinician. She is a chorister, a soloist and she conducts the junior choir of Grace Bible Church in Winnipeg.
Margot Harding - After completing her bachelor of Music degree as an opera major at the University of British Columbia, along with many other awards, Margot won a Canada wide scholarship competition to study in Salzburg, Austria. After 6 months of opera study at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria, she performed in numerous concerts and performances in Austria and Germany including the gorgeous Landestheater in Mozart’s home town, Salzburg, as a last minute fill-in for The Queen of the night.  She has sung with the Salzburg opera, Manitoba Opera, the Vancouver Opera, the Winnipeg Symphony, Carnegie Hall, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, The Manitoba Theatre Centre, The National Arts Centre (both the main theatre and concert hall stages), Rainbow Stage, numerous venues in Germany and Austria and various others.   She has sung in The New Music Festival, premièring Murray Shafer’s The Falcon's Trumpet, and has been featured on Arts and Minds on Bravo as well as CBC Stereo.  On the theatre side, Margot played the coveted role of Sharon Graham in Terrence McNally's Canadian premiere of Master Class at the Manitoba Theatre Centre and the National  Arts Centre in Ottawa. Margot has also sung many times as a featured artist with The   Winnipeg Symphony, The Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Manitoba Opera and others.
Spencer Duncanson - Artistic Director’s Message: One of the most challenging aspects of being the artistic director of a struggling chamber opera company is selecting programming that will be informative, entertaining and substantive.  At a time when audiences have so many choices as to where to spend their entertainment dollars, it is easy to look for commercial successes that might in reality prove to be nothing more than “cheap starchy fillers.  This is not the greatest aspiration of the LOC. Originally I had hoped to be able to offer audiences a glimpse of Peter Brook’s distilled version of Bizet’s Carmen, a story that reflects the merits and disadvantages of the human condition.  Unfortunately, due to fiscal restraints this production is being postponed until we can secure the proper funding.  So, the question of programming was pressing yet again.  Then it became clear; Winnipeg is a city with a very strong tradition of musical theatre.  Opera, especially contemporary opera, is not really that far afield.  For example last season we had the opportunity of presenting the Broadway hit, Kismet, a favourite of opera companies around the world.  Perhaps highlighting the similarities of some of musical theatre lovers’ favourites to the elements of opera will provide a bridge for the seemingly broad divide. “I love musical theatre, but opera is not my thing!’, a sentiment to which many can attest, but why?  Do we really know what it is that satisfies our aesthetic appetites and why? The use of music as a driving force in theatrical productions has caused some ambiguity when it comes to defining Opera, Operetta and Musical Theatre.  Today so many opera companies are expanding their repertoire to include musical theatre and operetta, thus adding to the enigmatic nature of music in the theatre.  This element of ambiguity led us to engage the minds of the audience members of The Little Opera Company in a light hearted pre-summer, garden-like recital that features opera like operetta and musical theatre solos and ensemble selections that have been heavily influenced by their, thought to be more austere. cousin opera.  The LOC continues the quest to help breakdown the barriers to appreciating a musical genres style of delivery and content by demonstrating the similarities that exist between these not so distant cousins.
Renate Rossol holds a Master of Music (Collaborative Piano) and Bachelor of Music (Performance and Music History) from the University of Manitoba, and an ARCT in Piano Performance. She also studied at the Vienna Conservatory from 2012-2013. Having performed as both a soloist and collaborative pianist in Austria, Canada, and the United States, Renate has attended many summer programs where she developed a love of working with and coaching singers. These programs include the Vancouver International Song Institute, Alpenkammermusik, Opera NUOVA, and the Franz-Schubert Institute. She also performed with both the University of Manitoba’s Opera and Musical Theatre Ensembles, and was a pianist for the Advanced Opera Studies program at the university during her master degree. Renate was the répétiteur for La Clemenza di Tito with Manitoba Underground Opera (2014), and for Candide (2014), Carmen (2014) and Oklahoma! (2015) with Opera NUOVA. She made her music directing debut August 2015 with Secondary Characters Musical Theatre in Chilliwack, BC, for The Last Five Years. Renate served as apprentice music director for Dry Cold Productions’ A Little Night Music (Winnipeg, MB), vocal coach/répétiteur for Fraser Lyric Opera’s The Barber of Seville (Prince George, BC), and répétiteur for Manitoba Underground Opera’s production of The Magic Flute (Winnipeg, MB) in 2016. She was very excited to be the repetiteur for the world premiere of Neil Weisensel’s Merry Christmas Stephen Leacock in December 2016 with Little Opera Company. Ms. Rossol will be music directing La Tragédie de Carmen with LOC in the 2017-2018 season. Renate is also in demand as a recital partner, collaborating with singers and instrumentalists across Canada and abroad. Locally, she is the music director at Sturgeon Creek United Church, and works as a vocal coach, collaborative pianist, and adjudicator.
Tenor, Justin Odwak is an active performer, choral conductor and vocal instructor. Justin has performed as soloist with organizations such as the Winnipeg Singers, Canzona, Camerata Nova, and the Winnipeg Philharmonic Choir. Justin has also appeared as soloist with the University of Manitoba singers for Soundstreams at Toronto's Koerner Hall along with the Latvian Radio Choir. He has also performed as soloist with the group for the Rocky Mountain Music Festival at the Banff Centre. Justin has performed with the Sarah Sommer Chai Folk Ensemble, appearing at Edmonton's Jubilee Auditorium, and in Winnipeg at the Centennial Concert Hall, as well as performing at the International Karmiel Festival in Israel. In 2013, he made his solo debut with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra in A Prairie Christmas Celebration, and has appeared as soloist in Messiah with Orchestra London and with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, both under the baton of Tafelmusik’s Ivars Taurins. Justin has also recently appeared as soloist with the Regina Symphony Orchestra, and the Okanagan Festival Singers and Orchestra. In 2015, Justin placed runner-up in the Zita Bernstein Competition for the Performance of German Lieder. As a choral conductor, Justin serves as artistic director of the Rainbow Harmony Project, is the current choir director of Congregation Shaarey Zedek, is co-founder and director of the Kolot Choir at the Rady JCC, and has conducted workshops in Winnipeg. He has recently completed his Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Education at the University of Manitoba.
Born in Scotland, Soprano Joan Hanton’s first voice teacher was her father. He impressed upon her that singing is more than fancy coloratura passages and technique, but it is more importantly an expression unique to the human experience. We can connect with others, we can revive lost memories, we can touch people’s hearts, and when we come together in a performance both the audience and the performer share in a unique experience of artistic expression. After lessons at the family piano, Joan continued her studies with W.H. Belyea and Mel Braun. She has sung with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Canzona, the Winnipeg Singers and in various solo recital settings. Most recently she has rediscovered her love of Scottish folk songs and is encouraging her three amazing children (Maddie, Spencer and Alexander) to celebrate their musical heritage.
Elliot Lazar is happy to be singing with the Little Opera Company for the first time! Past operatic roles include Papageno in The Magic Flute, Melisso in Alcina and Le Héraut in Cendrillon (Manitoba Underground Opera). Born and raised in Winnipeg, Elliot has appeared in musicals, plays, opera and film. Selected credits include American Idiot (Winnipeg Studio Theatre), Leo Frank in Parade (Opera NUOVA), Centipede in James and the Giant Peach (MTYP), Mr. Lindquist in A Little Night Music, The Addams Family (Dry Cold Productions), Flounder in The Little Mermaid (Rainbow Stage), Way to Heaven (Winnipeg Jewish Theatre), You Were There (Pocket Frock Productions) and bare: a pop opera (Winnipeg Fringe). This summer Elliot will appear in the Winnipeg Fringe Festival in a new adaptation of Mike Daisy’s The Trump Card (District Theatre Collective) and Gianni Schicchi (Manitoba Underground Opera). In May he worked on his first feature film, Siberia, slated for theatrical release in 2018. Elliot holds a Bachelor of Music (Performance) from the University of Manitoba where he studied with Lois Watson-Lyons and Mel Braun. In the fall, he will begin work on an M.F.A. in Musical Theater at The Boston Conservatory.
Mezzo soprano Kelly Robinson is a graduate of the University of Manitoba with degrees in Music (Voice Performance) and Science (microbiology) as well as Berklee College of Music where she studied pop/rock vocals.  She has performed with Rainbow Stage, the Manitoba Opera Chorus, and the Winnipeg Fringe Festival. Most recently she appeared as Mad Margaret in Ruddigore (Winnipeg Gilbert & Sullivan Society) and as Mrs. Segstrom in Sondheim's A Little Night Music (Dry Cold Productions) as well as the voice of Frida in the animated series Lanfeust Quest (ABC Australia).  She works as a singing teacher, voice examiner, and adjudicator and delights in the successes of her wonderful students.  This August, she will be appearing with Manitoba Underground Opera as Zita in Puccini's Gianni Schicchi.  Kelly is grateful for all the love and support of her family, friends, and mentors.