"You could just sit back, forget the spectacle and concentrate on
Tchaikovsky's luscious vocal writing."

Wayne Gooding, Opera Canada

Narmina Afandiyeva
Kevin Mallon
Robert Cooper

Michael Barrett
Isabel Bayrakdarian
Matt Chittick
Holly Chaplin
Matthew Dalen
Elizabeth DeGrazia
Jocelyn Fralick
Beste Kalender
Evan Korbut
Amy Moodie
Brett Polegato
Justin Welsh
Lawrence Wiliford



Pianist, Music Director

Studied at the Bülbül Specialized musical school and Azerbaijan State Conservatory under the guidance of professor Adelya Vekilova. Graduated in the Collaborative Piano Program at the University of Toronto, where she studied with Professor Steven Philcox.

She was awarded the Gwendolyn Koldofsky Prize in Accompanying (University of Toronto, Faculty of Music).

Narmina worked as Music Director and Pianist for I CAPULETI E I MONTECCHI, THE MAGIC FLUTE, MADAME BUTTERFLY (Summer Opera Lyric Theatre), and as a pianist for zarzuela SAUCY SEÑORITA, THE MIKADO, EARNEST, THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING (Toronto Operetta Theatre), borodin's PRINCE IGOR and Weill's STREET SCENE (Opera in Concert).

Larry Beckwith



Conductor Kevin Mallon was brought up in Belfast, Northern Ireland. He studied at Chetham's School of Music, the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, and at Dartington College of Arts, studying composition with Peter Maxwell Davies and conducting with John Eliot Gardiner, and specializing in baroque violin.

He became concertmaster with Le Concert Spirituel and Les Arts Florissants in Paris and led and directed The Irish Baroque Orchestra before moving to Canada to take up posts with Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and the University of Toronto. In 1999 he founded the Aradia Ensemble, with whom he has toured widely, and became conductor of the Toronto Chamber Orchestra.

He has made over 50 recordings for naxos. With Toronto's Opera in Concert he has conducted ten baroque operas. From 2005-2009, he was Artistic Director of the Irish company Opera 2005. He is also Music Director of the Thirteen Strings Chamber Orchestra in Ottawa and as well as Conductor of New York's newly-formed West Side Chamber Orchestra. Kevin's most recent appointment is Music Director of Orchestra Toronto, based at the Toronto Centre for the Arts in North York.

Robert Cooper



Artistic Director: Chorus Niagara, the Orpheus Choir of Toronto, and Ontario Male Chorus.

Chorus Director for the Black Creek Summer Festival.

Conducted symphony orchestras in Halifax, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Orchestra London (ON); opera companies in Victoria, Ottawa and Winnipeg.

Executive Producer of Opera and Choral Music at CBC for 31 years.

Recipient of an Honorary Doctorate from Brock University, the Order of Canada and the Queen’s Jubilee Medal for his significant contribution to the Canadian choral community.



Born in Newfoundland, Michael studied at the University of Toronto Opera School. While a member of the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio he had 14 roles to his credit.

In Toronto he also appeared as Spalanzani (LES CONTES D'HOFFMAN) for the COC, Quint (THE TURN OF THE SCREW) for Against the Grain Theatre, was in the world premieres of John Beckwith's TAPTOO! (Toronto Operetta Theatre) and Halifax composer Peter Togni's ISIS AND OSIRIS (Opera in Concert) as well as regularly appearing with the Aldeburgh Connection.

In Western Canada he has sung with Pacific Opera Victoria (THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO), Vancouver Opera (THE MAGIC FLUTE, SWEENEY TODD), Edmonton Opera (LES CONTES D'HOFFMAN, SALOME, THE MAGIC FLUTE), and Saskatoon Opera (LES CONTES D'HOFFMAN).

Recent projects include the roles of Gabriel Dumont in LOUIS RIEL (NAC Orchestra), the Witch in HANSEL AND GRETEL (Sudbury Symphony), and Howard Boucher in DEAD MAN WALKING (Vancouver Opera).


On the opera stage performed roles range from Gluck's Euridice in ORFEO ED EURIDICE to Debussy's Mélisande in PELLÉAS ET MÉLISANDE to Poulenc's Blanche in DIALOGUES DES CARMÉLITES and Janáček's Vixen in THE CUNNING LITTLE VIXEN.

Ms. Bayrakdarian appeared regularly at Canadian Opera Company, the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Paris Opera, Covent Garden and in Houston, Barcelona, Salzburg, and Los Angeles.

In concert, Ms. Bayrakdarian performed with the premier orchestras of New York, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal under an imposing array of today's leading conductors.


Originally from Ottawa, Canadian tenor Matt Chittick was an Emerging Artist with the Calgary Opera for the 2016-2017 season. He completed his Master of Music at the University of British Columbia under Prof. Roelof Oostwoud and his Bachelor of Music at McGill University under Prof. Stefano Algieri. Praised as having a "clear and vibrant" tenor (Opera Canada), Matt is very active on both the concert and operatic stage, in Canada as well as internationally.

This past season with Calgary Opera, Matt performed the roles of Prince Charming in their touring production of CINDERELLA, Sylvio/Pasquin in Bizet's DOCTEUR MIRACLE, and Ivan in DIE FLEDERMAUS. Some other recent performances include: Almaviva in IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA (Fraser Lyric Opera), Ramiro in Cowtown Opera's hilarious updated production of ELLA (Cenerentola), Nemorino in THE ELIXIR OF LOVE (Portland Opera School Tour), Bénédict in BÉATRICE ET BÉNÉDICT (Fraser Lyric Opera), Almaviva in THE BARBER OF SEVILLE (Portland Opera School Tour – US Debut), Jeník in the BARTERED BRIDE (European Musical Academy – Czech Debut), and Ernesto in DON PASQUALE (Opera Mariposa). He has also been active as a soloist at Bard on the Beach with the Vancouver Opera Orchestra, with the VSO in their Christmas Concert series, in Opera NUOVA's Vocal Arts Festival, and with Opera Kelowna in their Classical Christmas concert.


Holly Chaplin is a coloratura soprano based in Toronto. Holly obtained her bachelor's degree in Voice Performance (2014) from York University where she studied, and continues to study with Stephanie Bogle.

Holly has interpreted the roles of Madamme Goldentrill from Der Schauspieledirektor (Co-Operative 2015), Olympia in TALES OF HOFFMANN (SOLT 2016), Frasquita in CARMEN ON TAP (2016), Ample Bliss in A Convenient Lie; the James Bond Opera (Malfi 2016, Abridged Opera 2017, Savoy Society 2018), Zerlina in DON GIOVANNI Odd Opera 2017), Micaela in CARMEN (37Ace 2017) and Cunegonde in CANDIDE (TIFT 2017) and Susanna in I DUE FIGARO.

Ms. Chaplin has been featured as a soloist with Pax Christi Chorale, Celebrity Symphony Orchestra, Greater Toronto Philharmonic Orchestra, Toronto Operetta Theatre (Galop Offenbachien), Opera in Concert (Shakespeare 400, Chorus Fire) and with Summer Opera Lyric Theatre as the title role of Handel's SEMELE. She will be performing Fiordiligi in COSI FAN TUTTE (OA Henfenfeld, Germany) and Queen of the Night in MAGIC FLUTE in the fall of 2018.


Canadian tenor Matthew Dalen has performed with opera companies and symphonies throughout Canada, the United States, and Europe. Praised in Opera Canada magazine for his "warm tone and good connection to text". Matthew is an exciting young artist on the rise.

Recently he has understudied Alfredo in Edmonton Opera's LA TRAVIATA and has performed numerous roles as a young artist with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis.

Dalen will be joining L'Atelier Lyrique of Opera de Montréal in 2019. Matthew is currently based in Montréal QC.


Elizabeth is a mom of three fabulous boys and is originally from Nebraska. She's had an amazing career, singing with The New York Philharmonic, The Cincinnati Symphony, The Portland Symphony and The Glimmerglass Opera Company. She played Christine Daae in Andrew Lloyd Webber's THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA here in Toronto, and originated the role of Blanche in the Broadway production of JANE EYRE.

On operatic stage, she was heard as Marsinah in KISMET, Lisa in Kálmán's COUNTESS MARITZA and Yum-Yum in MIKADO with Toronto Operetta Theatre.


Originally from the Niagara Region, soprano Jocelyn Fralick has performed with some of the most prominent organizations in Niagara including Chorus Niagara, Choralis Camerata and Chorus Hamilton. Ms. Fralick recently made her debut with the Niagara Symphony at the new First Ontario Performing Arts Centre in Niagara and will return to the Performing Arts Centre as the soloist in Mozart's Mass in C with Chorus Niagara.

A recent graduate of the Glenn Gould School, Ms. Fralick was the winner of the GGS' concerto competition and the recipient of the Tom Thomas Music Award. In February of 2018, Jocelyn performed Strauss' Vier Letzte Lieder with the Royal Conservatory Orchestra under the direction of Leon Fleisher in Koerner Hall. Jocelyn continues to study with Monica Whicher and Rachel Andrist. She holds a bachelor's degree in vocal performance from the University of Toronto where she studied with Jean MacPhail.


A frequent performer on concert and opera stages internationally, award winning mezzo-soprano Beste Kalender was featured as The New Artist of The Month by the Musical America Worldwide after her recital debut at Carnegie Hall in 2017, where she performed again, this time at The Marilyn Horne Song Celebration, in 2018. Beste has recently performed at Helikon Opera (Russia), Bolshoi Theatre (Belarus), Teatro Comunale di Bologna (Italy), Sori Festival (Jeonju, Korea) and Les Chorégies D'Orange (France), as well as in various productions in Canada.

She made her professional debut in the title role of Bizet's CARMEN with Calgary Opera and American role debut with CENERENTOLA at Music Academy of The West. Among her accolades, Beste was named Jeunes Ambassadeurs Lyriques in Canada five times and won the 2013 Prix Jeune Espoir, the 2016 Sylva-Gelber Foundation Award and the 2018 Inaugural Stuart Hamilton Memorial Award. Beste's most recent appearance on OIC stage was last season, as Countess Rosina in the Canadian Premier of I DUE FIGARO by Mercadante. www.bestekalender.com


Evan Korbut is an Indigenous performer born in Sault Ste. Marie, ON. He began studying at Western University in 2007, completed his Bachelor's degree in music (voice performance) in 2011, and completed his Master's degree in music (voice) in 2014. Various credits include productions of DIE FLEDERMAUS as Eisenstein, THE MERRY WIDOW as Danilo, COSI FAN TUTTE as Guglielmo, LA BOHÈME as Marcello, THE RAPE OF LUCRETIA as Tarquinius/Junius and the role of Dandini in CENERENTOLA, LE NOZZE DI FIGARO as Figaro/Count Almaviva, L'ITALIANA IN ALGERI as Taddeo, and LA CLEMENZA DI TITO as Publio, and Jaimie Paul in the world premiere of THE ECSTASY OF RITA JOE.


Amy Moodie, soprano, is a recent graduate of the Vocal Pedagogy program at the University of Toronto where she was a two-time recipient (2016-2018) of the Richard Bradshaw Fellowship in Voice and Opera. Ms. Moodie was the winner of the 2017 NATSAA Great Lakes Region competition and, in early 2018, was a finalist and winner of the Harold Stark Award at the National competition in NYC.

In the fall of 2017, Ms. Moodie performed with the U of T Symphony Orchestra as the soloist in Imant Raminsh's Missa Brevis in C Minor under the baton of Dr. Hilary Apfelstadt, and was selected as the Vocal Category Second Place Cash Prize Winner at the Vancouver International Music Competition. Recent performances include recitals in Toronto and Papagena in W.A. Mozart's DIE ZAUBERFLÖTE, and the title role in Handel's SEMELE with Summer Opera Lyric Theatre. Ms. Moodie is a student of Professor Lorna MacDonald.


Mr. Polegato appears regularly on the world's most distinguished stages including those of Lincoln Center, La Scala, the Concertgebouw, the Opéra National de Paris, Glyndebourne Festival Opera, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, the Teatro Real, Roy Thomson Hall, the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall, and can be heard as soloist in the Grammy Awards' Best Classical Recording of 2003 – Vaughan Williams' A Sea Symphony (Telarc) with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Robert Spano.

Recent and upcoming engagements include Posa in Don Carlo (Grange Park Opera); Kurwenal in Tristan und Isolde (Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Teatro dell'Opera di Roma); Amfortas in Parsifal (Festival de Lanaudière); Zurga in Les pêcheurs de perles (Seattle Opera); Frank in Die Tote Stadt (Calgary Opera); Thomas Nangle in Ours(Opera on the Avalon); and the title role in Eugene Onegin (Grange Park Opera).


The burgeoning career of British Columbia baritone Justin Welsh was given new impetus by his great success as Queegueg in the Canadian premiere of MOBY DICK in Calgary.

Recent highlights include the title role in LE NOZZE DI FIGARO for Pacific Opera Victoria, Frazier in Opéra de Montréal's PORGY AND BESS, the Second Soldier in SALOME for Edmonton Opera. He has also been heard in ROBERTO DEVEREUX for Opera in Concert, as Guglielmo in COSI FAN TUTTE for the COC Ensemble. Other roles in his repertoire include Lapak in Janacek's CUNNING LITTLE VIXEN, Lescaut in Massenet's MANON and the title role in GIANNI SCHICCHI.

A former member of the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio, he was featured as Ari in the world premiere of the Ensemble production of SWOON and took the role of Fiorello on the mainstage in IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA, as Papageno in DIE ZAUBERFLÖTE in the Andrew Porter production for the COC Ensemble.


American-Canadian tenor Lawrence Wiliford is in high demand in concert, opera, and recital repertoire. 2018-19 season highlights include a performance of Mozart's CORONATION MASS with Les Violins Du Roy, performing a new work by Zachary Wadsworth with Chor Leoni Men's Choir, Handel's MESSIAH with the Phoenix Symphony, Mozart's Mass in C Minor and Bach's ST. JOHN PASSION at the Bach Festival Society of Winter Park, and Bach's ST. JOHN PASSION with Luminnous Voices.

Operatic highlights from recent seasons include making his Canadian Opera Company debut as Ferrando in Mozart's COSÌ FAN TUTTE on five hours' notice, to great acclaim. Also with the Canadian Opera Company he has appeared as Francis Flute in Britten's A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM and Roy in James Rolfe's SWOON. He has performed with Toronto's Opera Atelier as Belmonte and Pedrillo in DIE ENTFÜHRUNG AUS DEM SERAIL, Damon in ACIS AND GALATEA, Mercure in Lully's PERSÉE, and Don Ottavio in DON GIOVANNI; with Opera Lyra Ottawa as Count Almaviva in IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA; with Toronto Masque Theatre as the title role in ACIS AND GALATEA; with Aldeburgh Music as Quint in Britten's THE TURN OF THE SCREW; with Vancouver Opera in the title role of ALBERT HERRING; with Edmonton Opera as Frederic in THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE and Pedrillo in DIE ENTFÜHRUNG AUS DEM SERAIL; with Pacific Opera Victoria in the title role of ALBERT HERRING and Leo in the Canadian premiere of Mark Blitzstein's REGINA; and with MusicFest Vancouver and Boston Baroque in the title role of Rameau's PYGMALION.

Mr. Wiliford has collaborated with conductors Jane Glover, Matthew Halls, Nicholas McGegan, John Nelson, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Peter Oundjian, Trevor Pinnock, Helmuth Rilling, and Pinchas Zukerman. He has recorded ST. JOHN PASSION with Les Voix Baroques and the Arion Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Alex Weimann, and his debut solo recording DIVINE MUSICK: THE LATE WORKS FOR TENOR AND HARP by Benjamin Britten, on the ATMA Classique and NAXOS labels.

Mr. Wiliford holds a Bachelor of Music in church music from St. Olaf College and a Master of Music in vocal performance from the University of Toronto. He has studied at Tanglewood, the Internationale Bachakademie of Stuttgart, the Steans Institute at the Ravinia Festival, and the Britten-Pears Young Artist Program. Mr. Wiliford is a graduate of the Canadian Opera Company's Ensemble Studio and is a recipient of grants from the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council. In addition to his performing schedule, Mr. Wiliford is co-artistic director of the Canadian Art Song Project.

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