Spotlight on: Lyndsay PromaneInterview
Toronto-based mezzo-soprano Lyndsay Promane is an arresting presence on the opera stage, and a thoughtful concert artist. The UofT Opera graduate finds ease in traditional trouser roles like Hansel (Hansel and Gretel) and Bradamante (Alcina), and her recital programmes speak to a versatile, interested young singer.
Promane heads this summer to New Brunswick for the St. Andrews-by-the-Sea Opera Workshop, led by in-demand Canadian voice teacher, Wendy Nielsen. Ahead of her trip, she chats with us about her “spirit animal, Oprah Winfrey”, and how she likes to “sing your songs”.
Why do you sing, and why are you doing it professionally?
The reason why I sing changes all the time. The answer that comes to me most often is because we, the singers, have a wonderful privilege to tell stories and explore dynamic characters that are so different from ourselves. Sharing and respecting these stories is incredibly exciting and joyful.
What does “good singing” mean to you? What does it feel like when you achieve it?
Good singing means marrying technique with artistry in a way that they never get in each other’s way. It means removing what isn’t necessary or productive (tension, for example) to make room for things that we need (breath, joy). The subtext and meaning of the music remain strong and vibrant. The breath is always moving and the body is engaged. The result: an easy tone, a body with availability for breath and expression, and everything is “lined up”.
What do young singers need to do more of? What should they do less of?
Sing your songs the way you hear them in your head. Find perspective and leave fear at home. Enjoy yourself. Be real. Be gentle with yourself, but be honest. Be kind. Just keep singing.
Do you have any “bucket list” roles you’d like to sing (realistically or otherwise)?
I’ve wanted to sing Queen of the Night since I learned that opera was “a thing that people do”. Being a fierce queen is something we can all strive towards.
The bucket list continues with Cenerentola, Stefano from Roméo et Juliette (one aria wonder!), Urbain from Les Huguenots (see Stefano), Charlotte from Werther, and Kitty Oppenheimer from Doctor Atomic. I had a blast singing The Lady with the Hat Box/Foreign Singer in Argento’s Postcard from Morocco and would love (!) to revisit the role and the music.
Also, Mahler. Mahler forever, please and thank you.
What have you learned about your career as a singer, solely through professional experience?
One of the many things I’ve learned from working is that the greatest opportunities come when you least expect them. Embrace them, leave fear outside, and go for it!
Much like Oprah Winfrey, I’m not a fan of surprises. Unfortunately, I chose the wrong career and the wrong planet since my favourite performances came my way when I was not expecting them at all. Saying “yes” is powerful, and it’s something I’m learning to do more often. Of course, check with your mentors/teachers if you’re not sure if the repertoire is a good fit. If it is, say yes and work hard!
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