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Meghan Lindsay.

Ottawa-born lyric soprano Meghan Lindsay has become a regular fixture with Toronto's Opera Atelier. She made her North American debut as Donna Anna in the company's Don Giovanni in 2011, following that up last April with the roles of Sidone and Water Nymph in Lully's Amide, both staged by OA co-artistic director Marshall Pynkoski. The Lully brought the added luxury of touring performances at France's historic Opera Royal de Versailles and at the Glimmer lass Festival in upstate New York, with reviewers praising her "sweet and sinuously expressive vocal delivery" and her "warm and round" soprano.

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We spoke this fall between perfromances as Agathe in OA's production of Weber's Der Freischutz, key to the dawn of Romanticism in German opera but one that is more heard about than actually heard on stage these days. "From a vocal standpoint Agathe is one of the bigger roles in the lyric repertoire," says Lindsay, "and one that at my age [26] and at this stage in my career, I'm really happy to have done with Opera Atelier in the Elgin Theatre. I think it would have been a daunting piece to do in a gigantic hall. From a character perspective, I think Agathe does have a fair bit of sensuality and depth. It can be hard to portray that in her arias, especially the first one, 'Leise, leise, fromme Weise.' It's essentially a prayer for 12 minutes that ends with my excitement about marriage, so it's difficult to make that relatable today.

"Someone asked me how, as a modern woman, I relate to Agathe because I'm naturally more outspoken than the character might be. But she's just a young girl who is excited about settling down with her lover, and her role here is to sing some beautiful music and show a bit of simplicity."

Lindsay comes from a modestly musical family, and never dreamed that music would become central to her life. "But when I found out more about opera, I thought it was so brilliant," she says, "a culmination of so many diverse intellectual loves for me: it's math, language, physicality, history, political influences. So for someone with a wide range of interests, I thought, 'Well, they can kind of meet here.' Luckily I was given big cheek bones, so I could actually do it."

She was two years into a business degree at the University of Western Ontario before she thought about switching to music, sparked in part by private lessons with soprano Stephanie Bogle at the Royal Conservatory of Music during regular commutes to Toronto. She ended up transferring full-time to the Conservatory in 2006, later completing her degree and spending a year in the school's advanced Artist Diploma program, where she met Pynkoski. "The first opera I did was Respighi's La bella dormente nel bosco, in my first year at the Conservatory, and he was directing it. Five years later, he hired me to do Donna Anna. I could barely sing when he first met me, so I'm glad he has faith in me now."

With her Conservatory experience and degree behind her, she moved on to the Netherlands, where she had been accepted as a member of Opera Studio Nederland's young artist program, making her international debut as Euridice in Pierre Audi's production of Monteverdi's Orfeo. Amsterdam remained her home away from home for a year, affording the opportunity for a Concertgebouw debut singing excerpts from Don Giovanni and Le nozze di Faro and gaining more stage experience. After that, she was back in Toronto, beginning her current stint with Opera Atelier.

2013 starts with a master class at New York's Carnegie Hall titled The Song Continues, in which she will work on French song repertoire with accompanist Dalton Baldwin and two equally eminent singers, Jessye Norman and Marilyn Horne. Lindsay was tremendously excited about this opportunity, as one of only about a dozen singers invited to take part. "There's something inspiring about working with a great accompanist," she says. "It's the best way to learn the nuances of song cycles."
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Title Annotation:Artists on Stage
Author:MacMillan, Rick
Publication:Opera Canada
Geographic Code:1CONT
Date:Dec 22, 2012
Words:676
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