Shannon Mercer

Shannon Mercer, Soprano

Pacific Opera Victoria's The Magic Flute, April 2009

Shannon Mercer makes her Pacific Opera Victoria debut as Pamina in the April 2009 production of Mozart's The Magic Flute.

Her voice has been described as luminous, dazzling and shining and her acting witty, delightful, and feisty. Shannon Mercer is taking on the opera world as one of Canada's most promising young stars. Critically acclaimed by the international press for her musical artistry, she has been hailed as one of Canada's most promising young sopranos and a Leader of Tomorrow by Maclean's.

An alumna of San Francisco Opera's prestigious Merola Opera Summer Program, Shannon began her operatic career as a member of the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio Program. She has since gone on to perform major roles with the COC (Sesto in Sartorio's Giulio Cesare in Egitto, a Madrigalist in Henze's Venus and Adonis, Xenia in Boris Godunov, Oscar in Un ballo in maschera and Elvira in L'italiana in Algeri), l'Opéra du Québec, Opera Lyra Ottawa (Nanetta in Falstaff, Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia special school performance), Opera Ontario, Opera Atelier (Médée) and the Toronto Operetta Theatre. In July 2006 Shannon made her London debut under the auspices of the ROH Covent Garden in The Midnight Court with Toronto's Queen of Puddings Music Theatre.

Particularly praised for her performances of baroque and contemporary music, Shannon maintains a challenging balance of opera, concert and recital appearances. 2008-2009 is no exception. Die Zauberflöte figures prominently on her calendar this season as Shannon makes her role debut as Pamina with Opera Hamilton, a role she reprises in the Pacific Opera production in Victoria and London. She also performs as First Lady in the Toronto Symphony concert presentation of the same opera, conducted by Bernard Labadie and in the world première of a new opera by James Rolfe presented by the Queen of Puddings Theatre, rounding out her season as Valencienne in the Grand Philharmonic Choir's concert production of The Merry Widow.

The concert stage claims Shannon for appearances in the Canadian Classical Cabaret (Queen of Puddings Theatre), a concert at the Glenn Gould Studio under the auspices of OffCentre Music Series, performances of Messiah with the Vancouver Chamber Choir, Charpentier's Messe de minuit with Les Violons du Roy, and Bach's Mass in G Major and Cantata 51 with Symphony Nova Scotia.

Her 2007-2008 season featured performances in Washington at the National Welsh Heritage Festival, as Philine in a concert version of Ambroise Thomas's Mignon with Opera Lyra Ottawa, with Early Music Vancouver, the Grand Philharmonic Choir, the Edmonton Symphony, as Asteria in Handel's Tamerlano in Toronto, with l'Orchestre symphonique de Québec, Symphony Nova Scotia, Tafelmusik, the Ottawa Baroque Consort, Clavecin en concert, the Aldeburgh Connection and the Toronto Women's Music Club.

Recent engagements include her return to the Canadian Opera Company as Despina in Mozart's Così fan tutte, performances of Handel's Messiah in Vancouver, Calgary and Montreal, her debut in France with the Opéra national de Montpellier, in the title role of Marin Marais's French Baroque opera Sémélé. She has also appeared in Handel's Israël en égypte with Les Violons du Roy in Montréal and Québec City, debuted at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center in an all-Mozart recital featuring renowned American soprano Barbara Bonney, peformed at the Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival, in solo recital with Music Toronto for The Discovery Series and in a Schubertiade recital with the Aldeburgh Connection at the Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto.

In June 2007 Shannon appeared in the world premiere of Eric Idle's new comic oratorio Not the Messiah with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra under Peter Oundjian both at Toronto's first Luminato Festival and at the Caramoor Festival. She reprised the role in a US tour to Houston, Washington, and Los Angeles in the summer of 2008.

In November 2004, Shannon released her first recording English Fancy with Montréal's baroque ensemble Masques on the Analekta label, garnering such praise as Shannon Mercer sings this aria and the disc's other fare with chameleon-like gifts. Her soprano is bright and agile, and she uses vibrato and ornamentation vividly to extract telling nuances from words and music. Mercer brings equal expressive vibrancy to the amorous, hedonistic and sorrowful feelings in these delectable pieces. (Gramophone) and Shannon Mercer is splendid icing on a very lovely and tasty cake…[Campion's songs were] elegantly and artfully delivered by soprano Shannon Mercer, whose clear and unaffected singing is a delight to the ear. (Music Web International).

She has subsequently released two additional CD's for Analekta: Mondonville with acclaimed harpsichordist Luc Beauséjour, was released in March 2007 and Bach and the Liturgical Year in 2008. Marin Marais's opera Sémélé was released on the Glossa label in January 2008, immediately garnering acclaim (Shannon Mercer shines in Marin Marais's Sémélé (BBC Music Magazine). She also starred in Alexina Louie's Gemini-nominated comic opera Burnt Toast, an 8-vignette series directed by Larry Weinstein that was presented at the Toronto and Calgary film festivals and broadcast nationally on CBC television and Bravo!

One of Shannon's recent recordings, Gloria! Vivaldi and his Angels, with Ensemble Caprice, won the 2009 Juno award for Best Vocal Classical Album. Her recording Bach and the Liturgical Year was also nominated for an award in the same category.

Awarded a Career Development Grant from the Canada Council for the Arts and winner of the 2004 Bernard Diamant Prize, Shannon spent most of 2005 in Vienna where she studied German operatic repertoire with renowned voice coach Margaret Singer. She has recently received the Virginia Parker Prize from the Canada Council for the Arts and the Women's Musical Club of Toronto Career Development Award.

A native of Ottawa, Shannon Mercer now resides in Toronto.

As the maid Despina, [Mercer] deliver[ed] a wickedly pert performance of Una donna a quindici anni. (Globe and Mail)

Her soprano is bright and agile, and she uses vibrato and ornamentation vividly to extract telling nuances from words and music. Mercer brings equal expressive vibrancy to the amorous, hedonistic and sorrowful feelings in these delectable pieces. (Gramophone)

The finest singing came from Shannon Mercer as Altisidore. Mercer's sparkling recitatives and effortless runs were a constant delight. (Opera Canada)

March, 2009