Monday, March 14, 2011

Wallis Giunta: A Canadian North Star Beginning To Shine Brightly

(Photo: Tobin Grimshaw)
The 25-year old mezzo-soprano Wallis Giunta could easily be confused for a Hollywood starlet like Isla Fisher, Amy Adams or even a young Julianne Moore with her glamorous looks and auburn hair. A native of Ottawa, she is currently a member of the Canadian Opera Company's Ensemble Studio, but her star is about to get a whole lot brighter. With a schedule that includes a recent stint at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in the much-touted production of The Nightingale and Other Short Fables and this week she will partake in New York Festival of Song recitals at the Caramoor Festival in Katonah, N.Y., on March 13 and at New York’s Merkin Hall on March 15 and 17. After studying this coming summer in Italy with Kiri Te Kanawa and Germany with Edith Wiens, she will take
her spot in the Metropolitan Opera's Lindemann Young Artist Development Program for the 2011-12 season. The latter achievement came about when she was studying at the Steans Music Institute at Ravinia and met Brian Zeger, director of the LYADP and the vocal-arts department at the Juilliard School of Music, who arranged for her to audition for Maestro James Levine (for which she sang arias from Il Barbiere di Siviglia and La Clemenza di Tito). In November 2010, she saw her first opera at the MET. It was production of Così fan tutte with a cast that included LYADP alumni Nathan Gunn, Isabel Leonard and Danielle de Niese.

Her journey with opera began at age nine with a recording of Maria Callas singing "Casta diva" from Norma, which led her to join a children's choir. Soon she was singing solos and landed a part in a production of South Pacific. After taking piano lessons for 10 years and picking up voice lessons beginning at around age 11, she went on to study at the University of Ottawa as a coloratura taking on the role of Die Königen der Nacht in Die Zauberflöte. Eventually transferring to Toronto's Glenn Gould School, and down the register to mezzo territory with roles like Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro, she graduated in 2009. While at school she studied voice with Jean MacPhail and Steven Philcox.

Click on the title of the piece to hear audio:
"Non so più cosa son" (Mozart)
"Canto negro" (Montsalvatge)
"Waitin'" (Bolcom)
"Extase" (Duparc)
Her numerous awards and accolades include winner of The Ottawa Choral Society New Discoveries Auditions and The Royal Conservatory Orchestra Concerto Competition, 2nd prize winner of The Brian Law Opera Scholarship Competition, first recipient of the Lilly Kertes Rolin International Vocal Prize and winner of an Encouragement Award at both The George London Competition and The Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Wallis is an alumnus of the Sidgwick Scholar program with The Orpheus Choir of Toronto and has trained at The Aspen Opera Theatre Centre, The Banff Centre for the Arts, the Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute, and Highlands Opera Studio.
Giunta, far right, with fellow members of the Canadian Opera Company's Ensemble Studio

Wallis is already a well-schooled diva wearing jewelry custom-designed by Toronto's Myles Mindham. Her gowns are exclusively created by McCaffrey Haute Couture, a collaboration which resulted from her friendship with David McCaffrey who offered her a gown to wear during a recital. Since then she has worn his creations for several concerts, premieres and even advertises several dresses on the designer's website and in print ads.

The young singer is a big fan of country music (old, not new) and says her father, Mike Giunta, was always playing music recordings in the house while she was growing up so he is credited with her introduction to jazz, heavy metal, folk and indie rock as well. Wallis, or Wally as she is known to friends, has sung with the indie rock band Broken Social Scene on several different occasions. Even her sister, Marley, is a singer-songwriter that can be found on Youtube.

For more information about Wallis Giunta visit her Facebook page here.
[Source, Source, Source, Source, Source, Source, Source]


CENERENTOLA by ROSSINI | Canadian Opera Company
Cover: Angelina
Four Seasons Centre, Toronto
April 23 - May 25, 2011

RECITAL "In the Shadow" | Amici Chamber Ensemble
Glenn Gould Studio, Toronto
April 3, 2011 at 3PM

RECITAL "Spanish Gold" | New York Festival of Song
Merkin Concert Hall, New York, NY
March 15, 17, 2011, at 8PM

RECITAL "Vocal Rising Stars" | Caramoor Festival
Rosen House Music Hall, Katonah, NY
March 13, 2011, at 4PM

Canadian Opera Company
Role: Pribaoutki/Alto Soloist
Brooklyn Academy of Music, Brooklyn, NY
March 1 - 6, 2011

NIXON IN CHINA by ADAMS | Canadian Opera Company
Cover: Nancy T'ang
Four Seasons Centre, Toronto
February 5 - 26, 2011

THE MAGIC FLUTE by MOZART | Canadian Opera Company
Role: Second Lady
Four Seasons Centre, Toronto
January 29 - February 25, 2011

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