Though still young, Higgins is a seasoned composer; and though there are learning curves to writing for the voice, he wisely keeps his eyes on the final product: an opera for families.
"You know, thank goodness that we're beginning to deal more and more with questions and issues of diversity. But Young Artist Programs can't deal with the diversity questions if there isn't a pipeline beforehand."
Every bit of this production was beautifully and intricately crafted; from the dazzling, elaborate costumes, to the evocative colour palette, it was a fully immersive experience that was moving in the most unexpected ways.
For those looking to escape into a Shakespearean fantasy world filled with fairies, comical misunderstandings, and top-notch singing, this production of Midsummer is not to be missed.
She cautions that even in a prestigious YAP or ensemble studio, the opera directors are juggling many priorities and they simply want "to get the most out of your voice right now."
When the legendary Jessye Norman receives the prestigious Glenn Gould Prize - Canada's most significant award for artistic achievement - soprano Pumeza Matshikiza will be among the impressive line-up of singers set to pay homage.
It is a piece that is so clearly a microcosm of a very specific place and time. Director Richard Jones has chosen to set it in the mid-60s in a repressive, religious Russian community where a life of domesticity, is a woman's only option.
"In the operatic canon, there's a whole lot of male swagger, seduction, anger, and violence but a notable lack of vulnerability. Dramatically, I'm interested in shame and vulnerability, particularly in the lives of men."
2019/20 is a season of revivals, perhaps disappointingly so for some of the COC's longtime audience members who won't get treated to much they haven't seen before.
Every facet of this production is thoughtful and dramatic, so much so that even the actors aren't immune from its terrors. It was announced before curtain that Stemme sustained a knee injury during a rehearsal (one look at the steeply raked set and you'll wonder the whole cast isn't on crutches!).