Spotlight on: Kelsey Vicary

Spotlight on: Kelsey Vicary

Jenna Simeonov
I first met soprano Kelsey Vicary when we were both studying at Western University, and I had the chance to work with her most recently as Helena in Opera on the Avalon’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. You may have heard her as the Mother in Metro Youth Opera’s Hänsel und Gretel, or as a past finalist in the Canadian Opera Company’s Ensemble Studio Competition. In her smart interview, Kelsey chats about the long-term process that is becoming a singer, and how she strives for simplicity.

Why do you sing, and why are you pursuing it professionally?

Singing gives me a feeling of such joy and fullness of being! I’m addicted to that sensation of release when I’m able to free my sound - it really feels like I am a vehicle for the music. I also love the storytelling that goes along with singing, and that we get to bring to life some timeless characters and engage with so many complex questions. I believe we all need to be a little transformed by music, more and more so in this fast-paced culture we’re all a part of. I want to be a part of that!

What does “good singing” mean to you? What does it feel like when you achieve it?

Good singing is simplicity! Of course there are so many intricate details that go into preparing repertoire and technique, but when you’re listening to someone it’s the simplicity of their sound that grabs you and moves you. For me, it’s about being connected to the breath and inhabiting the text. I’m definitely still learning to find it in my own sound, but when I do, it feels like speaking: the sound has an easy point at the front and I am able to find so many more colours when I’m on my breath.

What do young singers need to do more of? What should they do less of?

I think young singers are so driven these days, and it doesn’t help that the competition is so fierce for admission to schools and programs. It really puts so much pressure to succeed, and to do it fast. I was so devastated when I didn’t get into a single grad school the first year I applied, I quit singing and moved to Australia!! What I wish I had known then is that this whole thing is SO about the process, and each one is unique - I have been learning that slowly but surely…

Do you have a “bucket-list” role that you’d like to sing? Why?

Susanna and Cleopatra - two clever ladies!

How do you explain your job to non-music folks?

When I tell people that I’m an opera singer, they’re often very curious and I think that’s awesome! Mostly I get asked about what kind of training it requires. I usually say it boils down to way more practice than performance, but that the experience of an opera can be a really marvellous thing for performers and audience alike. And then I point them in the direction of a great show coming up in Toronto.

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