Soprano Jane Archibald (BMus '99) returning to Waterloo for two concerts
The Music Faculty at
Wilfrid Laurier University has staged a number of events this year to celebrate the University’s Centennial—Monteverdi’s Vespers was presented in February and Mozart’s The Magic Flute was staged in Waterloo and Brantford in March. The University’s celebrations culminate at the end of this month with two events, both featuring Soprano Jane Archibald, recently named one of Laurier’s 100 Alumni of Achievement, who graduated from the voice program in 1999 (Victor Martens, her studio instructor) and is now a rising international star in opera—before she arrives in Waterloo for the Centennial Opera Gala on Friday, October 28 and Sunday in the Hall with Jane, an intimate concert on Sunday, October 30, Archibald is performing at the iconic La Scala in Milan.
Waterloo concerts will showcase the range of Archibald’s talents and give many Faculty of Music students rich performance opportunities—more than 200 will be involved.
In Friday’s gala, Archibald will perform opera excerpts with alumnus Adam Luther (tenor), voice professors Kimberly Barber (mezzo-soprano) and Daniel Lichti (bass-baritone), students in Laurier’s opera program, the Laurier Singers, the WLU Choir, and the WLU Symphony Orchestra. The program includes the Queen of the Night aria from The Magic Flute, the Humming Chorus from Madama Butterfly, and selections from Carmen and from Lucia di Lammermoor. Sunday, Archibald performs Strauss’s Four Last Songs and other orchestral repertoire with the WLU Orchestra.”
“I’m really excited Jane will be performing Strauss’s Four Last Songs because it gives our students the unique opportunity to perform that music with someone of Jane’s calibre and to hear her sing,” Barber says illustrating the anticipation that began when the concerts were announced in the spring. This fall, voice students have been serving as understudies, rehearsing all of Archibald’s selections with the WLU Orchestra. “Even just preparing with an orchestra has been a great opportunity for all of our students—it gives the orchestra a chance to rehearse with a singer and the singers a chance to learn all that’s entailed in preparing for a performance of this scale,” Barber says.
A native of
Nova Scotia, Archibald began her professional career after graduating with an Honours Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance from Wilfrid Laurier University. She also attended training programs at the Orford Arts Centre and the Tanglewood Music Center. A Canada Council grant recipient, she was also the 2006 winner of the Sylva Gelber Foundation award for the most talented musician under 30. Her artistry is now generating excitement across Europe with scheduled engagements including Rosina (Barber of Seville) in Geneva, the title role of Lucia di Lammermoor in Berlin and Zurich, Zerbinetta and Konstanze at the Bavarian State Opera Munich, Violetta at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, Zerbinetta, Cleopatra and Olympia at the Opéra National de Paris, Sophie (Der Rosenkavalier) at La Scala Milan, Zerbinetta at Baden-Baden Festival with Christian Thielemann and Renée Fleming, Konstanze in Zurich and Zerbinetta at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden. Coming home to Canada, she looks forward to engagements with the Canadian Opera Company in 2011 and 2012.
Most recently she scored a stunning success in a house and role debut at the MET where she stepped in at short notice for Natalie Dessay as Ophélie. During her two seasons in the ensemble at the Vienna State Opera, Archibald successfully debuted major coloratura roles including the Queen of the Night,
Olympia, Sophie (Der Rosenkavalier and Werther), Musetta and the Italian Singer in a new production of Strauss' Capriccio alongside Renée Fleming and conducted by Philippe Jordan. She has since returned to Vienna for select roles including Eudoxie in Halevy's La Juive and Sophie in Werther. Her 2008-9 season concluded with another role debut, this time stepping in at the Vienna State Opera as Aminta in Richard Strauss' Die schweigsame Frau.
“She’s the epitome of professionalism, meticulous in both her musicianship and her preparation,’ Barber says, describing Archibald. “She’s also very humble and kind of unflappable—Jane has the ability to put blinders on and to stay oriented to the task at hand which has allowed her to do what she’s done many times now, stepping in at the last minute to garner rave reviews for roles she hadn’t known three weeks before,” Barber says “There is something elegant, classy, almost 18th century, about her. It’s not surprising that she has had ended up having a very strong relationship with the Vienna State Opera which is steeped in tradition and old world elegance.”
“I’m glad if that’s the impression I give,” Archibald says when told of Barber’s assessment of her. “It might surprise people who knew me as a young singer to hear me say that I have always had inner confidence. So the rejections we all feel as singers were surface wounds. They didn’t harm my confidence….I’ve learned lots and quickly from my mistakes. I didn’t have to do them six or seven times—I’ve always been good at going forward. It’s the same in a career as it is on stage. If you miss a high note or forget something, you can’t look back, you have to look forward, thinking the next time I come to that high note I will support it better.”
Adam Luther, performing in Friday’s concert, also garners Barber’s praise. “It’s been exciting to see Adam’s development. He recently got a
New York agent and his career is blossoming. He’s an important part of the COC (Canadian Opera Company)—they’re clearly interested in him in the long-term because his voice has enormous potential,” she says of her former voice student. “I’m just thrilled he’s able to join us.”
Barber notes that Archibald will perform “Il dolce suono (Lucia’s mad scene)” and the Queen of the Night aria, one of her signature pieces, in the opera gala, and that in Sunday’s concert, she will sing Cleopatra’s aria from Handel’s Giulio Cesare, another tour-de-force. “The program ends with Four Last Songs which Strauss wrote near the end of his life—they have a bittersweet poignant quality. The songs are autumnal,” Barber says.
Archibald says she wanted to perform significant pieces in her career on her return. “When Paul Pulford (WLU Orchestra conductor) first suggested Four Last Songs, I hesitated a little bit. It’s been so beautifully done by so many singers—by sopranos of my voice type and by those with big dramatic voices,” Archibald says. “But I started thinking about it and realized Laurier would be the ideal place, friendly and safe. And I will be coming to Laurier from
Milan having just finished performing Strauss [Der Rosenkavalier] whose work I adore.”
Archibald has been asked to perform at Laurier before and is glad that her schedule permitted her to say yes this time round. “The Faculty of Music has always been understanding when previous commitment kept me from returning,” she says. “I’ve always felt the people there have been happy for me and it makes me proud to be one of the ambassadors for the Faculty of Music. I’m excited by the program and I’m thrilled to be returning to celebrate the Centennial.”
“These two music events are a really nice bookend for this year’s Centennial celebrations,’ Barber says. “They celebrate the Faculty of Music and the University—Music is such an important jewel in the crown of Laurier—and they show the community the central role music plays in our lives. What better way to end our Centennial year?”
The weekend’s concerts are presented by Laurier’s Faculty of Music with the generous support of the University’s Centennial Steering Committee, Laurier’s Alumni Association, and the Waterloo Inn.
The Centennial Opera Gala will be held at Knox Presbyterian Church in
Waterloo at 8 pm on October 28. Sunday in the Hall with Jane will be held on Sunday October 30 at 2 p in the Maureen Forrester Recital Hall. Tickets for both events can be obtained by calling 519-888-4908. Both concerts are presented by Laurier’s Faculty of Music with the generous support of the University’s Centennial Steering Committee, Laurier’s Alumni Association, and the Waterloo Inn.