Winner of the 2013 Capital City Critics Choice Award at the Ottawa Fringe for her solo performance in Poulenc’s La voix humaine (Opera 5), Canadian soprano Rachel Krehm is establishing herself as a sophisticated performer in both the opera and theatre communities. A multi-faceted artist, Rachel is the co-founder and General Director of Opera 5, and the creator, co-writer and one of the performers of the children’s educational show Tenors, Trumpets and La Traviata which debuted as part of the Kitchener Waterloo Symphony’s Family Series in March of 2014. Praised for her “lovely, radiant voice” (Opera Canada), and her “excellent acting” (Capital City Critics), recent performances have included an Opera Pops and Family Show with the Kingston Symphony in April 2016, soprano soloist for Magnificently Mozart with the Kingston Chamber Choir in April 2016 and Rosalinde with Opera 5 in June 2016. Rachel is also an active participant in Toronto cultural community. Aside from co-founding Opera 5 and being involved in building the company from the start, she has served on the Board of Directors at the Arts and Letters Club, the Music Committee at the Arts and Letters Club and is a member of the Executive Committee of Indie Opera Toronto, which is a collective of the 11 independent opera companies in Toronto. Rachel is also an active fundraiser. Since her little sister Liz passed away in 2012 at the MS ICU at St Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, Rachel and her family have organized and held an annual fundraiser for the MS ICU. These fundraisers have taken form of Memorial Concerts including a Mozart Requiem, Beethoven 9, Mahler 2 and Bach Double Violin Concerto, Songs and Arias and Beethoven 3 all of which have raised over $60,000 for St Michael’s Hospital.
Aria Umezawa is the Artistic Director of Toronto-based independent opera company, Opera 5, and the creator, director, and writer of the webseries “Opera Cheats”. Her staging of Poulenc’s “La voix humaine” took home the Capital City Critics Circle Critic’s Choice Award at the 2013 Ottawa Fringe Festival. She will be participating in the 2016 Merola Opera Program as the Apprentice Stage Director. As a lover of new and obscure operas, Aria has directed the Canadian premier of several works including New York-based composer, Milton Granger’s “Talk Opera”, Darren Russo’s “Storybook” (commissioned by Opera 5) which took home the 2015 SOCAN Foundation Grand Prize, and the North American premier of Cavalli’s “Artemisia” (Helios Opera, Boston). She has been praised for her irreverent, post-modern, wondrous and quirky visual style by online and print publications such as The Boston Globe, The Boston Pheonix, and Toronto’s Barcza Blog; her work has been featured in Metro News, Jezebel, and The Huffington Post, as well as on the social media pages of opera companies across North America.
Evan Mitchell is proving to be one of Canada’s most innovative and sought-after young conductors. Mr. Mitchell is currently the music director of the Kingston Symphony. Over the course of his residencies as assistant conductor of the Vancouver and Kitchener-Waterloo Symphonies respectively, Mr. Mitchell conducted over 200 concerts, acted as a Canadian ambassador during an historic two week tour of China, Korea and Macau, and served as an official consultant to the Vancouver Olympic Committee and Assistant Producer for the recording of the medal ceremony national anthems. Over the course of his career, Mr. Mitchell has brought the magic of orchestral music to over 400,000 students and children, many of whom experienced this incredible music for the very first time.
In addition to his musical achievements, Mr. Mitchell has been profiled extensively for his commitment to concert initiatives. He has been personally responsible for the writing, recording and production of behind-the-scenes concert video series, podcasts aimed at the layperson, and visual enhancements during concerts in order to give a richer, more informed experience to concert-goers. His videos have been widely featured abroad for both publicity and educational purposes, and his initiative using smartphones as a “silent tour guide” during live concerts in real-time was hailed as the best technological innovation in the symphony concert hall of 2014 by the CBC. Mr. Mitchell’s digital and concert initiatives have been described as an ‘overwhelmingly welcome breath of fresh air’ with regards to audience involvement and depth of live concert experience.
Jessica Derventzis is a stage director from Toronto who came to opera by way of studying piano and accompanying singers while at university. She is the Co-Artistic Director of Stu&Jess Productions and the Production Manager for Opera 5. Jessica also spent five years running the Theatre Department at her old high school directing shows and moulding young minds. Select opera directing credits include: Die Zauberflöte (Opera Kelowna), The Medium, Le Docteur Miracle, L’Heure Espagnole (Stu&Jess Productions), Our Town (Opera Nuova, Canadian premiere), La Voix Humaine (Little Opera on the Prairie), Assistant Director for L’Enfant et les Sortilèges, Candide, Die Zauberflöte (Calgary Opera). Up next, Jessica will be directing Cinderella for the Calgary Opera School Tour, Dido and Aeneas with Opera McGill.