Controlling the stage
Summerside native, soprano Tracy Cantin, making a career in opera
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.