About / Opera freak
a life-long student of bel canto
It all began at age 15. Teiya was attending the University of British Columbia’s Summer Music Institute and one of the planned evening activities after a day filled with lessons, coachings and masterclasses on this new genre of singing which they just had discovered — opera — was a viewing of Ingmar Bergman’s The Magic Flute. It was the first opera Teiya ever saw and heard, except for re-runs of Looney Tunes on Saturday mornings. It didn’t matter that the words were in Swedish; it was the music that swept them away, enhanced by stunning up-close footage of this production filmed in Stockholm’s Drottningholm Palace Theatre in the illustrious Baroque style that swept Teiya off their feet and catapulted them into a life-long desire to create music and story in a form as complex and magical as opera.
Teiya didn’t know then that they would be performing their own version of the Queen of the Night almost 20 years later in their solo show The Queen in Me. In that moment all they wanted was to be able to even attempt the infamous Act 2 aria “Der Hölle Rache” at least once in their lifetime. And that Teiya did, and has since performed the role at least 100 times in over 8 different productions and many concerts.
Since graduating at the top of their class from UBC’s School of Music, Teiya immediately began their professional career with the Canadian Opera Company’s (COC) Ensemble Studio in Toronto. Teiya spent three years training and perfecting their stage-craft covering and singing a variety roles of the soubrette and lyric coloratura soprano repertoire that included Echo/Ariadne auf Naxos, Lucy/The Telephone, Serpina/La serva padrona, Frasquita/Carmen, First Wood Sprite/Rusalka, the Balmont Fables/The Nightingale & Other Short Fables (Stravinsky), and Despina/Così fan tutte. Covered roles included Lucia/Lucia di Lammermoor, Maria Stuarda/Maria Stuarda, Zerbinetta/Ariadne auf Naxos, Madame Mao/Nixon in China, Rosina/Il barbiere di Siviglia, Susanna/Le nozze di Figaro, Marzelline/Fidelio, Musetta/La bohème, Ilia/Idomeneo, and the Nightingale/The Nightingale & Other Short Fables.
Following their time at COC, Teiya began to sing across Canada and Europe (Prague, Teplice, Toulon, & Essen) performing mainly their “impeccable” and “effortless” (reviewVancouver) Queen of the Night/The Magic Flute, their dream role since the age of 15. Living life as an opera singer encouraged Teiya to come into their own, and that meant discovering their cultural roots, queerness, and gender identity. Praised as a “magnetic performer” singing with “a dynamic mix of sweetness undercut by strength” (Opera Canada) is credit given to Teiya for their portrayal as Solana, a role created specifically for them by composer Leslie Uyeda and librettist/poet Rachel Rose. When the Sun Comes Out, billed as Canada’s first lesbian opera, premiered to great acclaim at the Queer Arts Festival in Vancouver in 2013, which allowed Teiya to bring the work to Toronto for World Pride in 2014 as a semi-staged concert version to sold-out audiences, also marking their debuts as both director and producer.
Since 2014 Teiya has been working exclusively with soprano Dr. Maria Vetere, of the Vetere Studio (Niagara/Toronto) and world-renowned Verdian soprano, Aprile Millo, where they have been developing dramatic soprano and dramatic coloratura soprano repertoire. They have garnered great success through Mme. Millo and Dr. Vetere’s Operavision Academy (L’accademia Millo-Vetere) where they worked intensively with Sir Richard Bonynge in Urbania and Busseto, Italy, performing at the Museo Renata Tebaldi and Casa di Verdi in Milan. In 2017 Teiya performed their first ever Lady Macbeth/Macbeth with Opera Niagara, directed by Aprile Millo, herself.
In Toronto Teiya has also performed with the National Ballet of Canada, Tapestry Opera (Hope/Shelter, Opera Briefs 2012, 2018, Tap This 2018, Lib Lab 2018), Soulpepper, Opera 5 (Fé-an-nich-ton/Ba-ta-clan and Mahénu/L’île du rêve), Against the Grain Theatre (Bino/Figaro’s Wedding), and Savaka Arts (Donna Elvira/Don Giovanni). The 2018-2019 season will mark debuts with FAWN Chamber Creative and Soundstreams.
Internationally Teiya portrayed Fata Morgana/The Love of Three Oranges for the 2015/16 season at the Aalto-Musiktheater in Essen, Germany. They have also performed at the Aspen Summer Music Festival as Tytania/A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Brooklyn Academy of Music in Robert Lepage’s The Nightingale and Other Short Fables, and also in a tour of concerts with Opéra Toulon Provence Méditerranée.
Teiya is equally at home on the operatic and concert stages as they are in the theatre as playwright/creator, collaborator and performer. Their life-long love of bel canto and the operatic canon, especially of those composers such as Verdi, Strauss, Puccini, Bellini and Donizetti will always remain their first passion and ultimate musical expression. It is with sincere hope that Teiya’s work, not only as a performer of this immense canon, but also as a transgressor/progressor and subverter of the problematic and oppressive systems within opera, that they can continue to be a champion of creating space within opera for their (and others like them) many complex and beautiful identities through their work as co-artistic director of Amplified Opera.