Con­trol­ling the stage

Sum­mer­side na­tive, so­prano Tracy Cantin, mak­ing a ca­reer in opera

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - CLAS­SI­FIEDS - BY NANCY MACPHEE

It was the per­fect end to her time with the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

And so­prano Tracy Cantin was up for the chal­lenge.

It was the 29-year-old Sum­mer­side na­tive’s fi­nal as­sign­ment of her three-year in­tern­ship with the Lyric Opera. She was cov­er­ing, “pinch-hit­ting” if needed, for the per­former in the lead role in “Anna Bolena.”

Clos­ing night came and ac­claimed opera singer Son­dra Roder­nosky fell ill.

It was Cantin’s time to shine.

“I thought if I ever got that call or if any­body fell ill and I had to go in, I would be a big ball of nerves. I wasn’t, I re­ally wasn’t. I was so excited. I just felt ready.”

Cantin feels com­fort­able on stage, where she’s spent the last decade por­tray­ing var­i­ous char­ac­ters, honing her craft as one of this prov­ince’s few, if not only, pro­fes­sional opera singers.

While with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, she’s ap­peared in nu­mer­ous pro­duc­tions and roles big and small at the famed Civic Opera House.

“Ap­pren­tic­ing at a big com­pany like Lyric is very chal­leng­ing but it is ex­tremely re­ward­ing. The sea­son is so long and we do so many pro­duc­tions and there are so many artists com­ing in,” said Cantin.

“It seems ev­ery two weeks they are start­ing re­hearsals for a new show. The young artists, we are very lucky that we are in­volved in so many of the pro­duc­tions.”

But she is mov­ing on, now work­ing as a free­lance opera singer.

“There are agen­cies and opera com­pa­nies and sym­phonies and they au­di­tion for spe­cific roles and spe­cific so­los that are com­ing up. I do a lot of Beethoven 9s, and once you start do­ing them then it is word of mouth,” said the so­prano. “Ev­ery­body kind of knows ev­ery­body at a cer­tain point and con­duc­tors start rec­om­mend­ing you, which is won­der­ful.”

It was 15 years ago Cantin be­came im­mersed in opera, thanks to a former mu­sic teacher who gave her a CD of the mu­sic and told her to have a lis­ten.

“It’s a dif­fi­cult busi­ness to get into in gen­eral,” said Cantin. “It is cer­tainly more dif­fi­cult for peo­ple from re­ally small towns, small places like P.E.I. where we don’t nec­es­sar­ily get the op­por­tu­nity to ex­pe­ri­ence clas­si­cal mu­sic at a young age.”

“Thank god for the In­dian River Fes­ti­val,” said Cantin, who had once as­pired to be a hair­dresser.

“It is still kind of sur­pris­ing to me, to this day, this is what I have ended up do­ing.”

Now Cantin has come full cir­cle. Re­cently, she graced the stage at St. Mary’s Church, where she first saw opera per­formed by Cana­dian so­prano Measha Brueg­ger­gos­man. The show, Is­land Girls, also fea­tured Meaghan Blanchard and Sirens.

“I know I’ve left the Is­land to train and to study, but it is so amaz­ing to come back and to be in your home­town and sup­ported by your home prov­ince,” she added.

“These are the peo­ple I grew up with and I love the fes­ti­val and hope to come back.”

In Septem­ber, she’s off to Europe to ex­plore her op­tions in the world of opera abroad. “We’ll see what comes.” As for her fu­ture, Cantin’s hopes are hum­ble.

“I want to own a cot­tage on P.E.I.,” she said with a laugh. “That’s my five-year plan.”


Tracy Cantin re­cently fin­ished her three-year ap­pren­tice­ship with the Lyric Opera of Chicago and is now work­ing as a free­lance opera singer. Cantin re­cently per­formed at P.E.I.'s In­dian River Fes­ti­val, along with Meaghan Blanchard and Sirens.

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