Don Giovanni Artists
Toronto based baritone, Michael Robert-Broder (He/Him) is an engaging performer who has crafted an enviable career balanced between recital, oratorio, and opera engagements.
Described as “smooth mellifluous baritone of a Gerald Finley or a Hermann Prey” (barczablog.com - Fidelio), he has specialized in the performance of German language opera and lieder above all else. As Faninal in Der Rosenkavalier he “sang an impressive “Ein ernster Tag, ein grosser Tag” (ludwig-van.com) and as Jochanaan he gave “a stunningly lyrical reading of this role…singing a smoothly lyrical line throughout, putting out a fabulous wall of sound from time to time, always on pitch and never harsh sounding.” (barczablog.com). In his portrayal of Nabucco he “sang solidly and with emotional range too.” (operaramblings.blog), as Dr. Falke he was praised for his “warm baritone” (Opera Canada), and in his premiere of The Ecstasy of Rita Joe he “fashioned a brilliantly conflicted Magistrate, stern and compassionate, cynical and resigned” (operagoto.com)
Upcoming engagements include Handel’s Messiah, Donizetti’s Elisabetta, Debussy’s La Chute de la maison Usher, Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle, Britten’s Noye’s Fludde, recitals of Verdi and Puccini arias and duets, a recital of Canadian art song, and a recording of music for voice and organ.
Windsor native Bass-Baritone John Holland has embarked on a diverse career of opera, oratorio, and art song. In 2020, John won a JUNO award as a member of the Ottawa Bach Choir. His Operatic credits include Figaro in Le Nozze di Figaro at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Leporello and Masetto in Don Giovanni at the Estates Theatre in Prague, Vodník in Rusalka in the Czech Republic, Taddeo in L’Italiana in Algeri at Casa Loma, Purkrabi in Dvořák’s Jakobin, Caspar in Der Freischütz, Achilla in Giulio Cesare, Belcore in L’Elisir d’Amore, Henry VIII in Anna Bolena, Baron Ochs in Der Rosenkavalier, and Alberich in Der Ring Des Nibelungen with Toronto’s Opera by Request.
He has sung at such locales as the Canadian Opera Company, Mozarteum in Salzburg, Bachfest in Leipzig (2014, 2022), Smetana Hall and the Estates Theatre in Prague, and San Marco in Venice, and has shared the stage with the likes of Placido Domingo, Sherrill Milnes, Rene Pape, and Lorin Maazel. Recent 2023 performances include, Bass Soloist for a CD recording of Bach’s Motets on ATMA Classique, Bartolo in Il Barbiere di Siviglia with Mississauga Symphony, Leporello in Don Giovanni with Toronto City Opera, and Papageno in Die Zauberflöte with Opera York.
He was a winner of the 2002 CBC Radio Opera Quiz Competition, and a finalist in the London Opera Guild Competition in 2001 and 2003. A respected academic, John is a three-time lecturer for the Canadian Opera Company’s London guild, a regular lecturer at the Royal Conservatory of Music, and a nine-time judge for the JUNO Awards. He is also an alumnus of the University of Windsor and Western University music faculties.
Dr. Holland completed his PhD in Musicology at York University in 2018. His scholarly work reaches over many genres, but is focused on the study of Czech Opera, Art Song, and Choral Works. His book, The Lost Tradition of Dvořák's Operas: Myth, Music, and Nationalism, critically analyzes these operas, and views them through the lenses of social, cultural, and political history, and pieces together the answers to why these operas are essentially lost works within the Czech lands, and abroad. In the fall of 2014, he produced the Canadian premiere of Dvořák’s opera Jakobin. He is also the founding director of the Canadian Institute for Czech Music, and continues to be in demand as a performer, choral conductor, and lecturer, as well as being a member of the contract faculty at York University. John is excited to make his TCO debut in one of his favourite roles!
From Quispamsis, New Brunswick, soprano Lauren Estey fell in love with opera as a young chorister with Opera New Brunswick’s productions of Tosca and La Traviata. The early development of her craft was nurtured through lessons with Dr. Kevin Langford, Inuk soprano Deantha Edmunds, and renowned technician Mabel Doak.
Lauren went on to obtain her BMus at Dalhousie University with Professor Marcia Swanston where she was featured as Lauretta in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi and Belinda and the Sorceress in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas. During her studies on the East Coast, Lauren was recognized for her
skillset with the Erik Perth Memorial Award in performance excellence.
Lauren continued her vocal studies receiving a MMus of Vocal Performance and Literature at the University of Western Ontario, studying with Professor Rachel Mallon. Under Mallon’s tutelage, Lauren joined the Halifax Summer Opera Festival as the title role in Floyd's Susannah.
Lauren returned for the 2016 season as the lead role in Puccini’s Suor Angelica. Additional roles include Pamina from Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, Violetta Valéry from Verdi’s La Traviata, and Cleopatra in Handel’s Giulio Cesare in Egitto.
Lauren is presently completing her doctoral studies in Historical Voice Performance at the University of Toronto in the studio of Professor Monica Whicher. In 2020-2021, Lauren received the honourable mention in UofT’s annual DMA Recital Competition. Lauren was recently featured as Anna in Toronto City Opera’s production of Verdi’s Nabucco and is thrilled to be performing with TCO again as Donna Anna in Mozart’s Don Giovanni!
Praised by the Rochester City Newspaper for her "honeyed tone," the Milbrook Independent for her “attractive, comforting appeal” and by the Boston Globe for “a rich voice that could go in a blink from speaking to soaring” - as well as her “killer side-eye” - soprano Paulina Swierczek is gaining acclaim as vibrant story-teller, combining technical facility with a passion for communication.
Concert highlights include Handel’s Messiah, Strauss’s Four Songs, op. 27, Beethoven’s Egmont, op. 84, Brahms’s Ein Deutsches Requiem, Mendelssohn’s Lobgesang, Poulenc’s Gloria, and Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass. Favorite roles include Brunnhilde (Die Valkure, Siegfried), Therese (Les Mamelles du Tiresias), Fiordiligi (Cosi fan tutte), The New Prioress (Les dialogues des Carmelites), and the Countess Almaviva (Le nozze di Figaro). She has premiered works at the Festival of Contemporary Music, performed with the TMCO (Sieben fruhe Lieder, Chantefleurs et Chantefables) and has been featured in numerous cantatas of J. S. Bach under John Harbison.
Paulina has appeared with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, the Albany Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestra Now, the Broad Street Orchestra and the Little Orchestra Society, among others. She is an alumnus of the Tanglewood Music Center (‘17+’18), the
Meistersinger Program at Pittsburgh Festival Opera, Fall Island Vocal Arts Seminar and SongFest.
Paulina has recently also been featured by Sparks and Wiry Cries on the 2022 songSLAM Festival as part of the Songs of Identity Series. She is widely sought for her interpretations of Polish art song, having presented programs hosted by the Universities of Pennsylvania and Rochester and in recital by the Canadian Chopin Society and Downtown Music at Grace.
In Spring 2023, Paulina is thrilled to be making her role and company debut as Donna Elvira in Toronto City Opera’s production of Don Giovanni. She will also present a recital of Polish art song in White Plains, NY for Downtown Music at Grace, and will be featured on a concert with the Union College Orchestra performing arias of Mozart and Bellini.
Paulina holds degrees from the Eastman School of Music and the Bard College Conservatory of Music, and notable teachers include Tina Torlone, Rita Shane, Dr. Constance Haas, Anthony Dean Griffey and Sanford Sylvan. She currently studies with Michaela Martens.
Praised for her “sparkly coloratura” (Opera Ramblings) and “[being] full of character and spot on in timing and delivery” (Review Vancouver), soprano Thera Barclay is in demand as an interpreter of operatic, recital, and concert repertoire. She is the recipient of many scholarships and awards for her achievements in music, including the Sheila K. Piercey Vocal Scholarship, the Lillian and Don Wright National Voice Travel and Study Scholarship, and various other prizes in the Kiwanis Music Festival and NATS Competition. She has graced stages across the nation, having performed in Ontario, Nova Scotia, and British Columbia, as well as internationally in Berlin, Germany; Sulmona, Italy; and Prangins, Switzerland.
Most recently, Ms. Barclay was selected as a Participant in the Canadian National Opera Auditions, as only one of 10-15 singers selected from across the country. She was also a Jeune Talent/Young Talent participant in the Prangins Baroque 2022 festival in Prangins, Switzerland. Other performance highlights include Tatyana (cover) in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin (Opéra Queens), Arsinoë in Dr. J Marchand Knight’s Cleopatra Built (Opéra Queens), Mabel in Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Pirates of
Penzance (Centre for Opera Studies and Appreciation), Barbarina in Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro (Nóżki Opera), Lucia in Britten's The Rape of Lucretia (The Glenn Gould School), Diana in Jonathan Dove’s Siren Song (The Glenn Gould School), Zweite Dame and Papagena in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte (Berlin Opera Academy; University of British Columbia Opera), Poppea in Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea (Halifax Summer Opera Festival), Lauretta and Nella in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi (University of British Columbia Opera; Wilfrid Laurier University Opera), and La Zelatrice and Suor Genovieffa in Puccini’s Suor Angelica (The Glenn Gould School; The Centre for Opera Studies in Italy).
Ms. Barclay completed her Artist Diploma in Voice at The Glenn Gould School. She holds a Master of Music degree in Opera from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver BC, as well as an Honours Bachelor of Music degree from Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, ON. Ms. Barclay grew up in Ottawa, ON, and has a vested interest in curly hair products and craft beer. Of Sri Lankan heritage on her mother's side, she also enjoys a good curry, pol sambol, and all the Sri Lankan short eats she can possibly get her hands on.
Born on the auspicious Feast Day of Bach, Handel and Purcell, it was surely fated that Alexander Cappellazzo would involve himself in music!
Since his first performance in 2017 in Strauss’ Die Fledermaus, Alex has performed roles such as Tamino & Monostatos (Die Zauberflöte), Lensky (Eugene Onegin), Acis (Acis & Galatea), and many more with companies across Canada including: OperOttawa, Opéra Queens, Opera McGill, Opera By Request, Nóżki Opera, the Halifax Summer Opera Festival, and the Ashkenaz Festival.
Opera Canada describes him as “a stunning Tamino, with clarity and richness of voice, natural ease onstage, and a credible portrayal of innocence and determination”, Revue L'Opera lauded “[the confidence of his performance]”, and the National Capital Opera Society admired his "force and strength” as a soloist in Handel's Messiah.
Alexander is the founder of Apocryphonia and the Diapente Renaissance Vocal Quintet: two Toronto-based groups dedicated to showcasing underperformed repertoire. In only three concerts, highlights include: six North American premieres, four recording premieres, and one of Canada’s only Ralph Vaughan Williams 150th Anniversary events officially sponsored by the RVW Charitable Trust.
He holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Vocal Performance from McGill University, received the 2019 Prix des Donateurs de la Relève Musicale, and is a featured soloist on a Baroque organ CD available on most digital platforms. When he isn’t involved in musical endeavours, he spends time with his wife hiking outdoors & watching Criterion films indoors, scouring thrift stores for books to fill his shelves, and showering his cat Beatrice with love.
Praised for his "fine baritone voice" (The Brooklyn Eagle), "Austin Larusson sang beautifully" (barczablog.com), “Austin Larusson’s Crespel was a very effective and even touching foil” (John Gilks operarambling.blog). Austin is pleased to return to Toronto City Opera once again after recently appearing as the Sacristan in Tosca. Austin was pleased to return to the stage this past season as Shem and Patho in Conan and the Stone of Kelior with Mightier Productions, John Sorel in the The Consul with Summer Opera Lyric Theatre, covering Conte Di Luna in Il Trovatore with Opera Sustenida, Montschi in A Waltz Dream and most recently Mars in Orpheus in the Underworld both with Toronto Operetta Theatre.
Previous Toronto/GTA appearances include Marchese, La Traviata with Mississauga Symphony, Hermann/Crespel, Les Contes D'Hoffman with Toronto City Opera, The Messiah at College Street United Church, Conte Carnero, Der Zigeunerbaron; Vicomte Cascada, The Merry Widow; Ajax A, The Beautiful Helen; Police Sergeant, The Pirates of Penzance; Massakroff, The Chocolate Soldier with Toronto Operetta Theatre; Benoit/Alcindoro, La Boheme; Count Ceprano, Rigoletto; Bartolo/Antonio, Le Nozze Di Figaro with SOUTHERN ONTARIO LYRIC OPERA; Johann, Werther; Lorenzo, I Capuleti E I Montecchi with Opera in Concert; Leporello in Don Giovanni and Malatesta in Don Pasquale with Vera Causa Opera; Vicomte Cascada, The Merry Widow; Marchese, La Traviata; Fiorello, Il Barbiere Di Siviglia with Opera York.
New York appearances include Yamadori, Madama Butterfly; Sciarrone/Jailer, Tosca; Hermann, Les Contes D'Hoffmann; Priest, The Magic Flute with Regina Opera, and the baritone soloist in Brahms Ein Deutches Requiem at Riverside Church.
Upcoming engagements include Fiorello in Il Barbiere Di Sivilglia with the Mississauga Symphony and Priest and Armed Man in the The Magic Flute with Opera York.
Gabriel Sanchez-Ortega is a bass praised for his “booming bass sound,” and his “surprising low and rich voice” (Schmopera). He recently sang the role of Dottore Grenvil in Mississauga Symphony Orchestra’s production of La Traviata, under the baton of Maestro Mastromonaco, and made his Toronto City Opera debut singing the role of Bartolo in their production of The Marriage of Figaro.
Past performances include: Colline in Puccini’s La Bohème, with Opera York and Mississauga Symphony Orchestra, Figaro in The Marriage of Figaro in Concert with the Mississauga chamber music society, Zuniga in Bizet’s Carmen, with the Mississauga Symphony Orchestra and Opera York, The Ogre in El Gato con Botas, by Montsalvatge, and Man with a cornet case/Puppet Maker in Postcard from Morocco, by Argento, with The Glenn Gould School. Gabriel has also had the pleasure of performing with the Aspen Opera Center in their 2016 productions of La Bohème (chorus), and Béatrice et Bénédict (extra, cover: Don Pedro).
Born in Montreal in 1993, Gabriel holds a Performance Diploma in voice from The Glenn Gould School, in Toronto, studying primarily under Joel Katz. While at the Aspen Opera Center, he had the privilege of studying under W. Stephen Smith.
Conductor, pianist and vocal coach Suzanne Yeo has performed in North America, Europe and Asia, to much praise for the intensity and sensitivity of her interpretations. After a stint as a doctoral candidate in the German department at Princeton University, she returned to music and obtained her M.Mus. in piano performance from the University of Toronto. Her long-standing affinity for opera and Lieder led her to the sphere of collaborative piano, where, in addition to working with singers, she participated in various collaborative piano workshops with Emily Hamper and Steven Philcox, and acted as répétiteur at the Miami Music Festival (2019).
In 2020 she co-founded Opera Sustenida, an opera collective noted for its wittily modern takes on the standard repertoire. At the same time, she has continued to study conducting with David Bowser, and in workshops, such as Jan Harrington’s choral/orchestral conducting masterclass at the Princeton Festival, where she made her conducting début.
Last season, she was assistant conductor in the 2021 TCO productions of Nabucco and Cavalleria Rusticana, and one of Orchestra Toronto's Apprentice Conductors for 2022, leading a performance of de Falla's Ritual Fire Dance in their "Carmen!" concert; most recently, as Music Director of Opera Sustenida, she conducted their production of Il Trovatore.