Larissa Koniuk – soprano
Soprano Larissa Koniuk is a singer and actor whose artistic concentration is in the creation and collaboration of new opera works. Larissa is the founder and artistic director of the Bicycle Opera Project, producing and performing contemporary opera across Ontario. Highlights of Larissa’s 2013-14 season were engagements in Soundstream’s production of Brian Current’s Airline Icarus, the premiere of FAWN Opera’s L’homme et le ciel, a new opera by Adam Scime, and Soulpepper’s modern adaptation of Dido and Aeneas. Larissa has performed and premiered many solo concert works including the premiere of Thin Straight Lines, a song cycle for soprano and quartet by Anna Höstman, the Toronto premiere of Adam Scime’s Images of John A Wilson: a mini opera for soprano, and The Handless Maiden: a one-act monodrama for soprano and electro-acoustics by Wende Bartley. Upcoming engagements include TSO’s New Creations Festival, and the RCM’s 21C Music Festival, and the premiere performance of Longuement me sui tenus by Aaron Gervais with Soundstreams. Larissa looks forward to embracing the vivacious character of Daisy Fairchild in The Bells of Baddeck, a new music-drama by Dean Burry and Lorna MacDonald.
Stephanie Tritchew – mezzo
Stephanie Tritchew just recently completed her first year of the Calgary Opera Emerging Artist program. She holds an Opera Diploma from the University of Toronto where she studied with Canadian soprano, Wendy Nielsen. Past roles include Mercédès in Carmen (Calgary Opera), Madeleine Audebert in the Canadian premiere of Silent Night (Calgary Opera), Witch in Hänsel und Gretel (Metro Youth Opera), Nancy in Albert Herring (UofT Opera), Mrs. Grose in Turn of the Screw (UofT Opera), Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro (Centre for Opera Studies in Italy), Prince Orlovsky in Die Fledermaus (UWOpera), and Mère Marie de l’incarnation in Dialogues des carmélites (Accademia Europea Dell’Opera). She is excited to return to the Calgary Opera Emerging Artist program for the 2015/16 season, and is thrilled to be singing the role of Gertrude Hubbard in the world premiere of The Bells of Baddeck and to tour and perform for a second season with The Bicycle Opera Project this summer.
Christopher Enns – tenor
Christopher is an Alumnus of the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble. On the mainstage, he was featured as First Commissioner (Dialogues des Carmelites), Tamino (Die Zauberflöte), Jupiter (Semele), Scaramuccio (Ariadne auf Naxos), and Nathaniel (Les contes d’Hoffmann). He has been heard with Chorus Niagara in a Broadway-themed programme in St. Catharines, in Messiah for the Menno Singers, and played the role of Alexander in The Enslavement and Liberation of Oksanna G. for Tapestry. Recent performances include Tamino in The Magic Flute for Saskatoon Opera, Frederic in Pirates of Penzance for Opera Lyra Ottawa, Bach’s Mass in B minor and Mendelssohn’s Elijah, both for the Winnipeg Symphony. Before hitting the road with BOP, Chris will be seen performing the role of Jonathan Dale in Opera de Montreal’s production of Silent Night.
Geoffrey Sirett – baritone
Baritone Geoffrey Sirett continues to impress musicians and audiences in debut performances in opera, concert and recital repertoire. Recent highlights include the Canadian Opera Company tour of Pergolesi’s LA SERVA PARDONA and Burry’s THE BROTHERS GRIMM, John Adams’ THE WOUND DRESSER with the Victoria Symphony, JOHANNES PASSION for Kitchener’s Grand Philharmonic Choir, Mozart’s KRÖNUNGSMESSE for the Ottawa Choral Society, and Messiah’s with the Victoria Symphony, Winnipeg Symphony, and Orchestra London. Upcoming performances include portraying William Dale in SILENT NIGHT with Opera de Montreal, Alexandre Graham Bell in the world-premiere of THE BELLS OF BADDECK, Kromov in THE MERRY WIDOW with Edmonton Opera, and Brander in THE DAMNATION OF FAUST with the Calgaray Philharmonic. As co-producer of The Bicycle Opera Project, Geoffrey is sought-after for his interpretations of new works, having created premiere performances and recordings of many Canadian works.
Wesley Shen – music director/piano
Wesley Shen is a dynamic and versatile pianist and harpsichordist working and residing in Toronto. He is a sought after solo artist as well as a collaborator in both chamber and orchestral settings. With a strong passion for contemporary music, he is seen performing as a regular member of the Toy Piano Composers Ensemble and the Blue Moss Ensemble. Recent appearances also include performances with the Glenn Gould School New Music Ensemble, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and New Music Concerts. His alter ego can be found continuing studies in Baroque period performance on harpsichord, working with Charlotte Nediger, Ivars Taurins, and other members of Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra. He is also seeking new ways of combining these two interests and helping to restore the harpsichord as an expressive medium within contemporary music.
Ilana Waniuk – violin
Ilana Waniuk, is a versatile violinist and contemporary chamber music addict with interests ranging from classical music and improvisation to visual arts. She has held artistic residencies at the Banff centre for the Arts, and Le Pantographe in Moutier, Switzerland, and has been a guest artist in residence at the SoundSCAPE festival of contemporary music in Italy. Ilana has participated in the Bang On A Can Summer Music Festival at Mass MoCA, and been a fellow at the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival New Music Workshop. Along with pianist Cheryl Duvall, Ilana is a founding member and co-artistic director of the Thin Edge New Music Collective. She has performed at contemporary music festivals including Open Ears in Kitchener/Waterloo and 21C in Toronto as well as with the Madawaska String Quartet, Essential Opera, Pendulum Ensemble, Mississauga Chamber Music Society, Chicago’s Ensemble Dal Niente and most recently as part of the Music Gallery’s Emergents Series in Toronto.
Erika Nielsen – cello
Described as “a colourful cellist of many temperaments,” Erika Nielsen enjoys a rewarding and multi-faceted career as an independent collaborative artist, chamber musician, and orchestral player. Ms. Nielsen served as Principal cellist of the Sudbury Symphony Orchestra for the 2011-13 seasons where she also headlined as a concerto soloist, performed recitals, and was an instructor at the SSO conservatory of music. Erika was a member of minimalist ensemble Muskox from 2008-11, featuring the music of Toronto composer Michael Smith, and has performed with Grammy-winning artist Kanye West for MTV Canada and Live at the Concert Hall series at the Masonic Temple. She frequently performs with Canadian singer-songwriter Jeffery Straker, and has recorded for countless artists, including The Trews and on the 2014 JUNO-nominated album by Splash ‘n Boots. She was a member of the Royal Conservatory Orchestra, Kingston Symphony Association, and the Glenn Gould School New Music Ensemble, directed by Brian Current.
Liza Balkan – stage director
Liza Balkan has spent over three decades working in the theatre. She is a director, writer, librettist, educator, coach, former dancer and Dora Award – winning actor. Liza ‘s work in Opera includes her recent staging of Louis Andriessen’s Anais Nin at Koerner Hall, directing The Brothers Grimm for the Canadian Opera Company/Ensemble, Le Nozze Di Figaro and L’Elisir d’Amore in Italy (COSI), the Canadian Premiere of composer Stephen Taylor and writer Marcia Johnson’s Paradises Lost ( Summerworks Musical Works in Concert), the site specific Toronto Fringe hit: Opera On the Rocks at Paupers Pub, and TapestryNewOpera’s Opera Brief’s 6 and 7. Her work as a librettist includes several short opera works and most recently, with composer Lembit Beecher, the song cycle Looking at Spring, which premiered in Vermont this past June. Her song Ride the Fear can be heard on Ivan Barbotin’s new album: Atom. www.lizabalkan.com.
Sonja Rainey – Projection Artist
Sonja Rainey is a two time Dora nominated set and costume designer as well as a community engaged artist. Her approach is tactile and experiential, responding directly to the themes at hand to create objects and immersive environments that blend forms and materials to explore the questions and stories that lie below the surface. She is currently completing a year long Metcalf Foundation internship with Jumblies Theatre as well as working with Making Room Community Arts, MABELLEarts and the Community Arts Guild. Her work with these companies has encompassed set and costume design; puppet and mask work; illustration and sculpture as well as the creation of short narrative films. Sonja has an MFA in Theatrical Design from the University of Texas at Austin, a BFA specialization in Design for the Theatre from Concordia University and has most recently studied at the Manitoulin Conservatory for Creation and Performance.