Praised as a “standout” performer (Edmonton Journal), “particularly radiant in coloratura passages” (Opera Canada). On stage or at the director’s table, Sawyer is committed to telling stories in vibrant, collaborative, and inclusive ways.
Sawyer holds a Bachelor of Music degree, majoring in Opera Performance, from UBC, and a Masters degree in Voice Performance from the University of Manitoba. In April 2022, she completed an Artist Diploma in Stage Direction at McGill’s Schulich School of Music.
In the summer of 2021 Sawyer began her adventures as a producer. Along with longtime best friend Gwendolyn Yearwood, co-founded Good Mess Opera Theatre, an indie company dedicated to empowering and creating opportunities for young artists.
*Appears courtesy of Tapestry Opera’s Women in Musical Leadership Program*
Canadian conductor, Maria Fuller, is a rising star on the international conducting scene. Hailed as an artist of “subtle control, careful focus and thorough professionalism,” by the Chronical Journal of Thunder Bay, and as “fiery and dynamic,” by The Walleye Magazine, Maria demonstrates unparalleled energy, and an infectious joy in her music-making. Admired for her diversity and breadth of abilities, Maria performs internationally as a conductor, pianist, trumpeter, and is also an acclaimed vocal coach, award-winning composer, and sought after arranger. In 2019, Maria was awarded the David Effron Conducting Fellowship at the renowned Chautauqua Institute, in NY, and she also began her two year residency with the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. In 2021, she represented Canada in the inaugural La Maestra International Conducting Competition in Paris. This year Maria is managed by Women in Musical Leadership, in Toronto, with whom she guest conducts and assists 25 orchestras and opera companies across Canada. This year also marks her first year as founding Music Director of Ammolite Opera, in Calgary.
Maria holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Piano from McGill University, a Masters of Music in Piano, an Artist Diploma in Operatic Coaching, and a Masters of Music in Orchestral Conducting, from the College-Conservatory of Music (CCM). For more: www.mariafuller.com
Acadian soprano Mélanie Dupuis recently completed her Bachelor of Music in voice at Mount Allison University, studying with Monette Gould, and is currently attending the University of Manitoba under the tutelage of Tracy Dahl, completing a Master’s in Vocal Performance. A lover of choral music, Mélanie has sung with numerous choirs, including Mount Allison’s Elliott Chorale, the New Brunswick Youth Choir, and the 2022 National Youth Choir. Mélanie is equally at home on the opera stage, having recently performed as Mélisse in Gluck’s Armide with the Halifax Summer Opera Festival, and will be playing Dorothée in the Desautels Faculty of Music’s chamber opera production of Massenet’s Cendrillon. Also passionate in musical theatre, Mélanie most recently played Miss Barley in the Motyer-Fancy Theatre’s production of A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, and has also played roles such as Babette (Beauty and the Beast), Ms. Andrew (Mary Poppins), and Kitty (The Drowsy Chaperone). Other areas of musical interest include early opera, as well as the music of Francis Poulenc.
Ntara is a career long multidisciplinary artist, specialising in theatre. She holds a BFA Drama (Acting) from the University of Alberta. Ntara has a professional career spanning film, creation, dance, design, production, and management. Her performance experience ranges from Mainstage Repertory (Theatre Calgary) to elevators (Theatre Yes / Workshop West) to school gyms (multiple TYA tours) to art galleries (FreeFlowDanceTheatre). Ntara has recent training in voice, dance, creation and performance (Village Conservatory). She regularly workshops in dance, movement improv performance, acting, new play development, physical engagement, embodiment, writing, and artisanal crafts. Ntara’s personal practice focuses on spirit/ body/ mind connectivity and what it means to be human.
Lee Houghton Stewart has studied collaborative piano at both Brandon University and McGill. Her teachers have included Lawrence Jones, Tom Plaunt and Michael McMahon. Lee has returned to Winnipeg from Ontario where she taught piano, theory and history both as an instructor at Nipissing University and in her own private studio. She has performed frequently with groups such as the Sudbury Chamber Singers and the Rapport Singers of North Bay. Her duo In Tandem traveled to perform in small communities in Ontario. In Winnipeg Lee maintains a private studio, teaches at the Winnipeg Conservatory of Music, works as a festival adjudicator and is Director of Music at Westwood Presbyterian Church. She is privileged to perform often with singers and instrumentalists and especially enjoys her collaboration with Manitoba Underground Opera.
Airyn Lancaster is a stage manager, tour manager, and production coordinator who has recently returned to Winnipeg after a decade in Vancouver. She holds a B.A. Hons. From the University of Winnipeg and since graduating in 2012 has been lucky to support artists both in Canada and internationally. She has done shows in 237 cities worldwide (and counting!). Selected credits include stage management for Letterkenny Live, Darcy Oake: Edge of Reality, and Shopkins Live! Shop It Up, and production coordination for Arkells: Blink Once/Twice. She has extensive festival experience, including positions at the Winnipeg Folk Festival, Pemberton Music Festival, and Contact Winter Music Festival. Airyn is also proud to provide logistical support for Red Rover Entertainment and 410 MGMT Co. She is delighted to be making her Winnipeg re-debut with Manitoba Underground Opera.
Simran Claire is a Punjabi-Canadian mezzo-soprano and creative based in Vancouver, BC. Her artistic practice is rooted at the intersection of innovation and tradition, with an emerging focus on multidisciplinary work. She is proud to represent her community in the white-domintated spaces of opera and art song.
This past February, Simran released Dadima (Pacific Opera Victoria), a short film exploring her identity, heritage and lineage using the framework of Schumann’s Frauenliebe und -leben. Her creative debut was praised as “utterly moving, disorientating in a beautiful way, like uncovering a cultural bias you didn’t know you had,” (Opera Canada). Dadima was created as a part of her work in Pacific Opera Victoria’s Civic Engagement Quartet.
Last season, Simran made her French debut as Gossip 3 and Dancer in John Corigliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles, performed in the historic Opéra Royal at the Château de Versailles and co-produced by the Glimmerglass Festival; the production was recorded and broadcast internationally on arte.tv. Back home in Vancouver, she performed Oberaufseherin in the Canadian premiere of Mieczysław Weinberg’s Pasażerka (UBC Opera). As a member of Vancouver Opera’s Pre-Professional Internship Program, she understudied the role of Bunny in the world premiere of Maxime Goulet’s The Flight of the Hummingbird.
Simran is a graduate of the University of British Columbia (BMus 2018, MMus 2020), where she performed roles including Nicklausse in Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Angelina in La cenerentola; she is a recipient of the music faculty’s highest graduating award, the UBC Medal for Music. She was a Young Artist at the Glimmerglass Festival in 2019, where she worked with director Francesca Zambello and sang in a concert curated and hosted by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Soprano Janice Marple completed her Masters of Music in Voice Performance at the University of Alberta. Currently based in Winnipeg, MB, she studies privately with teacher Marisa Gaetanne. Past opera roles with MUO include Danica in Svadba, Nella in Gianni Schicchi, Despina in The Three Little Pigs, soloist in Female Fortitude, and soprano chorus soloist in Idomeneo. Her other operatic experience includes Fiordiligi in Mozart’s Così fan tutte (cover), Miss Wordsworth in Britten’s Albert Herring, Atalanta in Handel’s Serse, First Witch in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, and Venus in Offenbach’s Orphée aux enfers. She has been featured as a Debut Soloist in VoiceScapes’ annual Sing Along Messiah in Calgary, as well as attending the Centre for Opera Studies in Italy, the Opera on the Avalon Summer Music festival, and the Opera NUOVA Vocal Arts Festival. Ms. Marple placed first in the vocal category at the 2012 FCMF National Music Festival, and is the recipient of the Beryl Barns Memorial Graduate Award, Alberta Heritage Fund Scholarship, and Faculty of Graduate Studies Research and Travel Scholarships.
Stephen Haiko-Pena is a classical singer, composer and teacher in Winnipeg. He holds a Bachelor of Music from Desautels Faculty of Music at the University of Manitoba where he studied voice and piano. He’s performed extensively in Winnipeg with various groups: Manitoba Opera, The Little Opera Company, Underground Opera, The Gilbert and Sullivan Society and Canzona. Some of his creative output includes an intermediate piano suite, two children’s musicals and a choral work centering on a famous Manitoba UFO sighting. Stephen also presents opera classroom workshops with Manitoba Opera.
His recent engagements have included: Musikalische Exequien (Dead of Winter), Jesu Meine Freude (Canzona) and Sarastro in The Magic Flute (The Little Opera Company).
Canadian coloratura soprano Ashley Boychuk has been praised for her brilliance in both performance and delivery, “did not disappoint, fearlessly nailing her topmost notes while confidently skipping through florid coloratura runs during ‘Der Hölle Rache’ that earned the evening’s only cries of bravo.” (Holly Harris, The Winnipeg Free Press). Offering a committed and compassionate performance profile, Ms. Boychuk’s career includes engagements throughout North America and Europe.
During her time Germany, Ms. Boychuk performed with the Opernakademie Henfenfeld lead by Denette Whitter, Artistic Director and collaborative coach. Past operatic engagements include reprising the role of Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte with the Muskoka Chataqua Arts Centre, Margo in the Toronto Operetta Theater's The Merry Widow, and Elvira in L’Italiana in Algeri with Toronto-based opera company MYOpera.
Ms. Boychuk has won two Encouragement Awards (2013 & 2015) from the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and the Women’s Musical Club of Winnipeg Scholarships (2013 & 2015).
Ms. Boychuk holds a Master of Music degree from the University of Minnesota, as well as degrees from the University of Manitoba, Brandon University, and the Royal Conservatory of Music. Ms. Boychuk’s repertoire includes opera, oratorio, choral music, and art song.
An advocate for the arts, Ms. Boychuk’s professional work includes program management and fundraising with national and provincial organizations including the Coalition for Music Education in Canada and Manitoba Opera.
Manitoba Underground Opera was founded on Treaty 1 land, and the homeland of the Métis Nation. These lands are the traditional territories of the Anishinaabeg, Ininiwak, and Nakota Nations. In addition, our tours extend throughout the province of Manitoba, also encompassing Treaties 2, 3, 4, and 5.
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