Opera lover living her performing dream

Langford’s Sarah Vardy brings her soprano voice to the stage Sunday (May 22) in the classic Bizet opera Carmen.

Breakthrough year for up-and-coming soprano

She has a voice that thunders, a voice that penetrates your bones.

Yet with a rather petite build, Sarah Vardy is happy not to fit the stereotype of the operatic diva.

The 32-year-old Langford resident and opera singer has a feature role as Mercedes in this Sunday’s performance of Carmen in Victoria, put on by the Vancouver Concert Opera Co-Operative.

For Vardy, playing Mercedes offers her a compelling chance to play an alter ego – a free-wheeling gypsy, thief and seductress and a partner in crime with the manipulative Carmen. The role is also part of Vardy’s breakout year as a working opera singer, a driving goal that’s taken half her life to achieve.

“Since I was 16 I’ve wanted to do opera. I’ve spent that entire time honing my voice to move into a professional career,” she says. “I’m fortunate. Some never get there. Ideally I’d be a working musician, travelling all over the world.”

Performed in French with English narration, Georges Bizet’s Carmen is one of the most popular and often performed operas in history. Like most tales in the genre, it touches on passions and jealousies of love, in this case a Spanish corporal and a toreador vying for the heart of Carmen.

Despite often being performed in German, Italian, Russian or French, Vardy says anyone can engage with themes and storylines presented in opera – it’s an art form that is a larger-than-life expression of the human experience.

“There are a lot of misconceptions about opera. This company really tries to break down the barriers,” she says. “The show is all about the music. You can pick out what is going on, and you know when she dies in the end.

“People often think of Bugs Bunny with a 300-pound woman with horns on her head. Once people listen to opera, they realize they can connect.”

Vardy, who studied music at the Vancouver Academy of Music and the Victoria Conservatory of Music, has focused on developing her notably big voice. She has performed with Pacific Opera Victoria in smaller roles and in a number of venues across Canada, but 2011 is proving to be a key season.

After Carmen, the soprano is performing as the regal countess in The Marriage of Figaro in Oregon and Vancouver, before hitting auditions across Europe and taking the stage in Germany. Add that to teaching at the Brentwood School of Music.

Arriving at the point of performing internationally is a long haul, with no guarantees of success. Opera singers need natural ability to underwrite the art of fine-tuning a voice – techniques in breathing, projection and language skills are the entry points.

A singer since age 4, Vardy chose opera due to its emotional and technical complexity and historical legacy.

“To be an opera singer you can’t walk in off the street, it does take a lot of time and work. The way you hold your mouth, the way you tilt your head, affects the sound. Add emotion layered on reading and singing it, the whole thing can be mind-boggling.

“Mozart wrote operas in the 1700s, but what he wrote about is still happening today,” she says. “In opera it’s about love and loss. Humans still go through all these things. I love opera. It’s such a challenge. There is something so powerful about it.”

Carmen plays Sunday (May 22), at 4:30 p.m. at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Douglas at Broughton streets. For tickets, visit www.vancococ.ca.

Prices at the door are $25, or $21 students, seniors.

editor@goldstreamgazette.com

Just Posted

Confusing parking lot blamed for cars tipping into flowerbeds at Peninsula Canadian Tire

Tow and repairs cost thousands, engineer says drivers’ responsibility, Canadian Tire stay quiet

Victoria fulfills period promise with free menstrual products

Tampons, pads and other products available at City Hall and downtown washrooms

Victoria Ska and Reggae Festival returns to its roots, 20 years in

Longstanding music event brings together myriad talent in various genres

Saanich says it will take months to fix a sink hole that appeared during ‘Snowmaggedon’

Roads closed in the area after the sink hole first opened in early February

New secondary school planned for north Langford

Province announces $18.6 million in funding for site

WATCH: Barbers battle it out in Victoria

‘Barber Battle’ saw stylists and barbers from across North America go head-to-head

Suicide confirmed in case of B.C. father who’d been missing for months

2018 disappearance sparked massive search for Ben Kilmer

Eight U.S. senators write to John Horgan over B.C. mining pollution

The dispute stems from Teck Resources’ coal mines in B.C.’s Elk Valley

Threats charge against Surrey’s Jaspal Atwal stayed

Atwal, 64, was at centre of controversy in 2018 over his attendance at prime minister’s reception in India

Anti-vaxxer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to speak in Surrey

He’s keynote speaker at Surrey Environment and Business Awards luncheon by Surrey Board of Trade Sept. 17

Otters devour 150 trout at Kootenay hatchery

The hatchery has lost close to 150 fish in the past several months

B.C. church’s Pride flag defaced for second time in 12 days

Delta’s Ladner United Church says it will continue to fly the flag for Pride month

Update: Two shot, two arrested at Toronto Raptors victory rally

The team and several dignitaries, including Justin Trudeau, remained on stage

Oil and gas sector cautious as deadline on Trans Mountain decision nears

Trudeau government expected to announce whether it will approve pipeline for second time on Tuesday

Most Read