Soprano Sarah Vardy performs at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church on Saturday (Oct. 25) at 7:30 p.m. as part of Opera Nanaimo’s Opera Gems concert series.

Voice takes Island singer around the world

Langford soprano finds opera success abroad and within Canada.

When a kindergarten teacher suggested to Sarah Vardy’s parents that they should seriously consider enrolling their daughter in music lessons, they weren’t exactly enthused.

“Basically I wouldn’t shut up,” Vardy told the News Bulletin. “As a kid I was just talking and singing and talking and singing.”

However, Vardy’s parents came around to the idea and enrolled their daughter in music lessons and the rest was history.

“They decided to go ahead and do it and every year they asked me if I wanted to keep continuing and I said yes and I just literally fell in love with it,” Vardy recalled.

Since then Vardy’s voice has taken her around the world as a soprano singer.

On Saturday (Oct. 25), Vardy will be performing at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church as part of the Opera Nanaimo’s Opera Gems for Intrigue and Fantasy performance.

“I am really excited,” Vardy said. “It is my first time ever performing in Nanaimo.”

Vardy’s performance is the final Opera Gems concert of the season for Opera Nanaimo and will also feature baritone Andrew Greenwood and pianist Sharon Wishart along with emerging local Liam Robertson and Lauryn Collins.

Vardy said the series is wonderful.

“It is giving young singers an opportunity and bringing additional musicians, so people can see how and what it is like to grow in the business.”

Vardy was born into a military family and spent the majority of her life moving around Canada. Although the Langford, B.C. resident’s love for singing began at a very early age, it wasn’t until she reached her mid-teens that she discovered the opera genre.

“I was listening to a classical record and I sort of just fell in love with Maria Callas. She is my favourite opera singer of all time and I would just listen to her over and over and over.”

Since graduating from the University of British Columbia’s vocal performance program, Vardy has performed in a number of countries including Germany, Italy and China.

“China for me was a culture shock,” she said. “Most other places I’ve gone I have been able to speak the language, but in China there was definitely a language barrier and so it took a little bit of getting used to it, but I loved it.”

Two years ago, Vardy spent a month in Ontario studying under renowned Canadian tenor Richard Margison, who began his opera career with Pacific Opera Victoria.

“At first it was super intimidating,” Vardy said about studying under Margison. “Because he is a world-famous singer who has sung everywhere with other world famous people.”

During her time with Margison, Vardy learned everything from stagecraft to the business end of the opera industry.

“In today’s day and age, opera is not so popular, so there are a lot of cuts and funding issues with all sorts of music,” she said. “He’s able to take you through the nitty-gritty of the business of singing and how to actually be successful in doing it.”

Vardy, a winner of the Wallis Memorial Opera Competition in Saskatchewan, said that there is plenty of competition in the opera and that rejection is just a part of the industry.

“You deal with rejection on a regular basis,” she said. “You deal with singing amazing and then potentially not getting a part because you’re too short, or they don’t like your hair colour or they are friends with someone else that they want to hire. There are all sorts of things. So you kind of have to get used to the idea that because someone says no doesn’t mean you’re a failure.”

Sarah Vardy performs at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25. For more information, please visit

arts@nanaimobulletin.comTwitter: @npescod


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