Wendy Alexander, Andrea Rodall, Liam Robertson and Bree Horton (clockwise from top-left) are performing at Opera Nanaimo’s Voices in the Vineyard concert Sunday. (Photos courtesy Jean Kloppenburg/John Marian/submitted)

Mid-Island opera singers in the spotlight at ‘Voices in the Vineyard’

Opera Nanaimo raising money to stage ‘La Bohème’ at Malaspina Theatre

Opera Nanaimo’s Voices in the Vineyard concert is returning for its third year, and this time the event will be a fundraiser for the group’s first full-length production.

In October Opera Nanaimo will be staging a production of the 1896 opera La Bohème, by Italian composer Giacomo Puccini, at VIU’s Malaspina Theatre. This Sunday’s concert at Millstone Winery will help finance that endeavour.

Among the singers appearing at Voices in the Vineyard are Opera Nanaimo’s two female leads from La Bohème, Coombs resident Wendy Alexander, who plays Mimi, and Duncan’s Andrea Rodall, who plays Musetta.

Opera Nanaimo president Carol Fetherston said the theme for the evening is Viva Italia, meaning that many of the pieces will have an Italian connection.

This suits Alexander, who hails from Vancouver but spent the last 10 years living in Italy and only recently returned to her home province.

“There are a lot of things that drew me to Italy, but I only planned to go there for a short trip and then somehow ended up staying there for so long,” she said.

This is Alexander’s first production of La Bohème and she said she’s looking forward to playing Mimi, calling it “a legendary, bread-and-butter soprano role.”

“It’s just a beautiful character and it’s beautiful music and I’m very excited to be doing it,” she said.

Rodall, a past Voices in the Vineyard performer who has also sung with Malaspina Choir, is similarly making her La Bohème debut. She’ll be giving a sneak peek on Sunday when she performs her character’s aria, Quando me’n vo’, also called Musetta’s Waltz.

“I usually get cast as the young, sweet, innocent girl and Musetta’s quite the opposite. And as I get a little bit older I thought it would be fun to try something different,” Rodall said.

Other vocalists performing at Voices in the Vineyard include Nanaimo bass-baritone Liam Robertson, a UBC opera student, and Campbell River mezzo-soprano Bree Horton, who was the witch in Opera Nanaimo’s production of Hansel and Gretel. Fetherston said both are “on the edge” of professional careers.

She said Opera Nanaimo makes an effort to showcase singers from the Island, and as the city’s population increases, she expects the number of opera fans to increase as well.

“I think this is something that is going to grow in the mid-Island region,” she said. “We’re going to get more of this kind of concert and opera happening here and it’s all good. It’s all wonderful for the city.”

WHAT’S ON … Voices in the Vineyard takes place at Millstone Winery, 2300 East Wellington Rd., on Sunday, July 28 at 2 p.m. General admission $35, $30 for Opera Nanaimo members. Available from the Port Theatre.


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