We reach Canadian soprano Simone Osborne at the Calgary Opera Centre. She’s busy in rehearsals for the February production of Gaetano Donizetti’s The Elixir of Love, a light and lyrical comedy in the bel canto style.
It’s not Osborne’s first time playing Adina, the sophisticated and wealthy young woman at the centre of Donizetti’s opera. “I was fortunate to sing the role of Adina at the Canadian Opera Centre in Toronto, years ago,” she says. “I was a young artist there over a decade ago. I sang a lot of roles for the first time there, and Adina was one of them. It’s a favourite role, such a pleasure to sing.”
Osborne grew up in Vancouver, and her path to a career in music is so charming that it could be the plot of its own opera. She went to a summer camp at University of British Columbia (UBC) at 16, but could not read music yet. She fell in love with opera as an art form and went on to study at UBC for her undergrad. At age 21, she was one of the youngest winners of the prestigious Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Established in 1954, the purpose of the auditions is to discover, assist, promote, and develop young opera singers. Convinced that she would not advance beyond the first round, she had only brought one dress with her to New York. “As the competition went on, I had to go shopping,” she laughs.
That was in 2008, and the win launched her career. She finished her degree and went to The Canadian Opera Company’s Studio Ensemble program, directly out of university. “I’ve been working as a singer all over the world ever since,” she says, “and I’m proud that I was able to do so much of my formation in Canada.”
When asked about The Elixir of Love, Osborne is quick to note that it’s appealing to both audiences and performers. “It’s so enjoyable to come to as an audience member. You don’t need any preparation to appreciate the story. It’s entertaining and light, but it’s also deep and profound. It’s about how love can transform a defensive person into a vulnerable and open person. And for performers, it’s just a treat to hear it all come together. The Calgary Philharmonic sounds fantastic, and so does the chorus. The conductor, Pablo Maritano, breathes life into every note, and the tenor aria is something everyone will know and love. It’s a joy for us as singers, to perform these melodies.”
P.S. Tune in to Discoveries on Monday, January 29 to hear Leo Cripps when he talks with tenor Elias Theocharidis, also appearing in The Elixir of Love.