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> Winner of Opera York Voice Scholarship

Opera York wins R.A.V.E. Award

RAVE AwardLance Gitter

The City of Vaughan has honored Opera York by presenting the R.A.V.E. Award to Opera York. R.A.V.E. is an acronym for Recognize Arts Vaughan Excellence. Last fall, during Holocaust Education Week, Opera York produced “And the Rat Laughed” an opera by Nava Semel and Ella Milch-Sheriff in partnership with the Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre and the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto. “And the Rat Laughed” is an opera based on the fictional story of a hidden child during the Holocaust and her resolution of her experience as an adult through sharing of her memories with her grandchild.

The work offered to the community a better understanding of the issues faced by the people and their families who survived the Holocaust. The company used the art form of opera - the music, setting, and words, which were sung in Hebrew to convey a better understanding of the highly emotional topic, and developed a variety of ancillary activities to share a better understanding of the topic.

To understand the opera more fully, Opera York partnered with the library systems of Vaughan, Markham and Richmond Hill to present an exhibition on the “Righteous Among the Nations” those people who gave selflessly of themselves to save people during the War. Over 90,000 people viewed these exhibitions over the month of November, and during Holocaust Education Week.

As well, the company offered lectures on “Memory and Art” that were presented by the author and composer, who are children of Holocaust survivors. The lectures took place in libraries across the GTA and at the Baycrest Centre a a centre for Alzheimer research and Brain Health clinics.

For the month of November, Opera York presented an exhibition of art in partnership with the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts “Metamophosis: Gathering Transformations” by survivor artist, Haim Dan Ionas (1922-2007)

One of the highlights of the activities accompanying the production, was a Symposium put on by the York Catholic District School Board (YCDSB) in partnership with Opera York “Desire to Change” themed on tolerance. The first day of the symposium featured talks by the author and composer, a presentation of students from the YCDSB who visited Auschwitz, a talk by a survivor of the Holocaust and an afternoon of creative works by the students based on quotes from the book, upon which the opera was based. Every high school from the Board was represented. Their creative works and a report on the day was taken back to the rest of students unable to attend due to space restrictions. Their creative works included touching dances, dramas and songs that engaged the students and enriched their reflection on the work. Nava Semel, the author, and Ella Milch Sheriff, the composer, were deeply moved by the students' work and their deep understanding of their work. The second day of the symposium brought over 300 students to see the opera at the Richmond Hill Centre for the Arts and to talk informally with the performers following the performance.

The production was the first full opera in Hebrew to be performed in Canada and North America. The cast’s process of learning and singing in Hebrew was documented by newspapers in Israel and TV newscasts in Tel Aviv. Their time with the very talented artistic director Geoffrey Butler, author Nava Semel and composer Ella Milch-Sheriff was praised by the cast. The tears and praise that flowed at the end of each performance spoke to the quality of the work and the performance.

The production brought international recognition to the company. The work was favourably reviewed in Opera Canada Magazine and Opera (UK).

At the Award Ceremony in June at Vaughan City Playhouse, Philip Trow, Opera York’s President, thanked the Vaughan Arts Advisory Committee and the City for this honour and thanked all the partners to Opera York who made the production and the additional activities possible.

Winner of Opera York Voice Scholarship

Andrea Nunez
Andrea Nunez

In partnership with the Celebration of the Arts, Andrea Nunez was awarded the Opera York Young Artist Scholarship on October 2, 2010 at Markham Theatre. Opera York hopes to support young artists of York Region entering into the field of opera through this new scholarship.

Andrea Nunez
is a student at the University of Western Ontario, pursuing a five-year concurrent honours degree in Bachelor of Music, majoring in Voice Performance (studying with Jackalyn Short) and a Bachelor of Arts in English. Andrea is a triple threat who loves to sing, dance, and act. She has participated in several musical productions with UWO Opera, Summer Opera Lyrical Theatre (SOLT), Randolph's Academy of Performing Arts, and Unionville Theatre Company. Plays include INTO THE WOODS (Little Red), DON GIOVANNI (Zerlina), NINE (Diana), FOOTLOOSE (Ariel), BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (Belle), ANNE OF GREEN GABLES (Miss Stacy), and ANNIE (Annie).

As well as dancing competitively for thirteen years, Andrea has participated in several singing competitions and some of her achievements included Bursary winner (vocal category) at the York Region Celebration of Arts in 2006 and 2010, First Place in Second Year Post Secondary Women category at the 2009 Ontario Chapter Auditions of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS), 2009 Western Idol at University of Western Ontario, Overall second runner-up at 2008 CNE's Rising Star Talent competition, Top-40 at the 2008 nationwide competition of CBC's Triple Sensation. Andrea wants to pursue a career in opera when she graduates from university.