Pacific Opera Victoria
Ensign Nellie Forbush in South Pacific
Whether being hailed as "mesmerizing" (Classical Voice of North Carolina), "thrilling" (The New Classical 96.3 FM), or "a clear standout" (San Francisco Classical Voice), versatile soprano Lara Ciekiewicz is quickly making her mark as a compelling, intelligent, and accomplished singing-actress. A graduate of l'Atelier lyrique de l'Opéra de Montréal, she has distinguished herself at some of the continent's most prestigious training programs including San Francisco's Merola Opera Program, the Banff Centre for the Arts' Opera as Theatre program, the Janiec Opera Company at the Brevard Music Center, and Opera NUOVA. Her combination of flair, humour, presence, vocal beauty, and style, all backed by a solid technique, is already gaining attention.
Highlights of the 2013-2014 season include the role of Nellie in South Pacific for Pacific Opera Victoria and the Victoria Symphony, Messiah with the Winnipeg Symphony and Musetta in La Bohème for Manitoba Opera.
During the 2012-2013 season Lara sang the role of High Priestess in Aïda with Manitoba Opera, followed by Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. She also paid tribute to the legendary career of Len Cariou through the music of Stephen Sondheim in an exciting venture with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and Dry Cold Productions. Ms. Ciekiewicz was also delighted to rejoin the Toronto Operetta Theatre family, starring in the title role of Kálmán's The Gypsy Princess.
The 2010-2011 season saw Ms. Ciekiewicz return to l'Opéra de Montréal as the saucy Musetta in La Bohème, to Manitoba Opera as Papagena in Die Zauberflöte, and to the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra for a rarely heard performance of Penderecki's Seven Gates of Jerusalem. Appearances also included Lyudmila in Glinka's Ruslan i Lyudmila for Opera in Concert, Le Gala 15e édition at l'Opéra de Montréal, as well as a recital at Montreal's Consulate General of the Republic of Poland and the Gala des Jeunes Ambassadeurs Lyriques for Montreal's Théātre Lyrichorégra 20.
The 2009-2010 season began on l'Opéra de Montréal's mainstage. There, Ms. Ciekiewicz covered Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi and performed Papagena in Die Zauberflöte, also covering Pamina. She then made her Toronto Operetta Theatre debut in the title role of Countess Maritza. She completed her apprenticeship at l'Atelier lyrique, performing the roles of éva in the Gagnon-Tremblay drama Nelligan and Lucy in The Telephone. Rounding out the season was a return to the Sinfonia de Lanaudière for Messiah with Maestro Stéfane Laforest, a debut in Mozart's Requiem with Maestro Alain Trudel and l'Orchestre Symphonique de Laval, performances for l'Opéra de Montréal's MetOpera, and outreach events for l'Atelier lyrique.
Ms. Ciekiewicz's 2008-2009 season proved equally exciting, culminating in a turn as Fiordiligi for the Merola Opera Program's production of Così fan tutte. Praising the beauty of her instrument, her poise and intelligence, San Francisco Classical Voice's Jason Victor Serinus declared, "she could build a career as a consummate Mozartian and also branch out into weightier, more dramatic repertoire." In addition, Ms. Ciekiewicz made two company debuts – one on the mainstage at l'Opéra de Montréal as the Dama in Macbeth, the other as Paquette for Manitoba Opera's Candide. She returned to Toronto's Opera in Concert as Elisabetta in Roberto Devereux and sang Fiordiligi, this time for l'Atelier lyrique. Concert engagements included an evening of Mozart with Boris Brott and the McGill Chamber Orchestra, Rutter's Magnificat with the Winnipeg Singers, and Messiah with the Sinfonia de Lanaudière.
Her 2007-2008 season began in North Carolina at the Brevard Music Center, where she debuted as Pamina in Die Zauberflöte under David Gately's stage direction and the baton of Steven Smith. She then presented her first Carmina Burana with Keith Lockhart and the Brevard Music Center Orchestra. Other debuts included the title role in Anna Bolena for Opera in Concert, the title role in Alcina for Opera McGill, and her first Fiordiligi, again for Opera McGill.
Further highlights from past seasons include covering Anna in Frobisher at the Banff Centre; Anna in the world première of Michael Matthews's Prince Kaspar for GroundSwell and Chamber Opera West; the title role in Princess Ida, Yum-Yum in The Mikado, and Zorah in Ruddigore, all for the Gilbert and Sullivan Society of Winnipeg; Antonia in Les contes d'Hoffmann and Mrs. Hayes in Susannah, both at Opera NUOVA; and concert engagements in Bach's Mass in b minor for the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and Handel's Israel in Egypt for the Mennonite Festival Chorus. Ms. Ciekiewicz holds a Masters in Music (Opera) from McGill University and a Bachelor of Arts (Honours, Voice) from the University of Winnipeg. She is a laureate of Montreal's Jeunes Ambassadeurs Lyriques.
The vocal find was soprano Lara Ciekiewicz as Anna. Bel canto is not an easy sing, but Ciekiewicz was able to do everything required in gorgeous fashion. She could spin out her legato lines with elegance, force out her dramatic low notes to great effect and toss off high ones of crystal beauty. Her coloratura is formidable, and she is an expressive singer of note.
Ciekiewicz has a fine, pure voice ... With imperceptible breathing and centred high notes as clear as icicles, she sang with intelligence and emotional warmth.
Winnipeg Free Press