Giuseppe Pietraroia, conductor
Giuseppe Pietraroia is Associate Conductor for both the Victoria Symphony and Pacific Opera. As a guest conductor he has been engaged by l’Orchestre Métropolitain, Orchestra London, Vancouver Symphony, Toronto Symphony, Calgary Philharmonic, Hamilton Philharmonic, Okanagan Symphony, Regina Symphony, Kingston Symphony and Thunder Bay Symphony.
His extensive opera engagements with Pacific Opera include productions of Il barbiere di Siviglia, La traviata, La bohème, Lucia di Lammermoor, Norma, Rigoletto, Manon Lescaut, Madama Butterfly, La Cenerentola, Tosca, and Let’s Make an Opera/The Little Sweep. In addition, he has conducted productions for l’Opéra de Montréal, l’Opéra de Québec, Opera Lyra Ottawa, Edmonton Opera, Opera New Brunswick, Calgary Opera’s Emerging Artist Program, and l’Institut Canadien d’Art Vocal.
With Victoria Choral Society, where he was Music Director for seven seasons, Maestro Pietraroia conducted performances of Handel’s Messiah and Mozart’s Mass in C minor with the Victoria Symphony, a choreographed production of Orff’s Carmina Burana in collaboration with Ballet Victoria, Dvořák’s Stabat Mater, David Fanshawe’s African Sanctus, and the Duruflé and Fauré Requiems.
Maestro Pietraroia has recorded a cd with soprano Marie-Josée Lord and l’Orchestre Métropolitain for the ATMA label, which won a Felix award granted by l’ADISQ and was also nominated for a JUNO award.
Giuseppe Pietraroia is the recipient of the George and Jane Heffelfinger Pacific Opera Victoria Artist of the Year Award and the Canada Council’s Jean-Marie Beaudet Award in Orchestral Conducting.
Lauren Margison, soprano
Recognized for her ability to communicate with an audience, soprano Lauren Margison is making her mark as a young artist of note. An alumna of the Canadian Opera Company’s Ensemble Studio, she was a member of the prestigious Atelier lyrique de l’Opéra de Montréal, laureate of Jeune Ambassadrice Lyrique, and the youngest finalist to appear in the prestigious and highly competitive Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg Vocal Competition. A finalist and prizewinner in the 2017 George London Foundation Awards, Lauren went on to take first prize in the 2018 competition, and, this season, garnered prizes in the Metropolitan Opera Laffont Competition, was a semi-finalist in the Concours International Musical de Montréal (2022), and won Edmonton Opera’s inaugural Rumbold Voice Prize (2022).
Lauren’s upcoming and recent engagements include Micaëla in Bizet’s Carmen with Pacific Opera Victoria, Tatyana in Highland Opera Studio’s production of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 for Orchestre symphonique de Québec, The Csardas Princess with Toronto Operetta Theatre, and the title role in Barber’s Vanessa with Opera in Concert (Toronto). Lauren also looks forward to debuting two roles this season – Nedda in Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci and Anna in Puccini’s Le villi – with Staatstheater Mainz.
Margison has been featured as Mïcaela in Carmen with the Brott Music Festival, Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte with Highlands Opera Studio, and appeared in concert with the PRISMA Festival in Strauss’s Four Last Songs. She also appeared as Mimi in a special presentation of La Bohème with Artists of the COC Ensemble at The Four Seasons Centre and was featured in the COC’s Elektra.
During her 2017-2018 season, Lauren returned to Atelier lyrique and appeared as Clorinda in La Cenerentola with l’Opéra de Montréal and Missia in the Atelier lyrique’s production of La Veuve joyeuse. Lauren has also appeared as a soloist in Hommage à Reynaldo Hahn with the Société d’art vocal de Montréal, in the new opera Mishaabooz’s Realm with the Highlands Opera Studio and Atelier lyrique de l’Opéra de Montréal, and in Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis and Mozart’s Requiem with Vox Luminosa and Choeur de Laval.
A versatile soprano, she has performed extensively both in Canada and internationally, specializing in classical, jazz and pop repertoire. Some highlights include performances for Opera Ontario, the TD Toronto Jazz Festival, The Beaches Jazz Festival, the Ottawa Chamber Music Festival, the Cincinnati Pops, Hannaford Street Silver Band, the noon hour concerts at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts – Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre, Ottawa Choral Festival Gala, and the Venetian Ball under the baton of Marco Armiliato, (fundraiser for Villa Charities, Toronto) held on the main stage of the Four Seasons’ Centre for the Performing Arts.
An avid writer, between performances Margison contributes to Opera Canada magazine.
Pacific Opera Chorus
The Pacific Opera Chorus comprises adults of all ages and includes community singers, aspiring professionals, and vocal students at the Victoria Conservatory of Music and the University of Victoria. Over the last decade, with the support of a generous anonymous grant, Pacific Opera has offered a growing range of development opportunities for the Chorus. These include workshops on dance, movement, stage combat, and more, master classes by visiting artists, and other programs designed for members of the Chorus, as well as for other students of voice, and for practising artists working in the fields of music, theatre, stage design and direction.
“First mention has to go to the chorus, which did such an extraordinary job they came close to eclipsing the rest of the production. Under the direction of Giuseppe Pietraroia, the 30-member group of young vocal students, sprinkled with more experienced singers, raised the roof of the Royal Theatre when called upon, but also played their changing roles as soldiers, factory girls, townspeople, women of questionable moral character and bandits with both skill and commitment. Their sound was cohesive and powerful, but also sophisticated and refined. Astonishing for a volunteer chorus.” (Opera Canada, reviewing Pacific Opera’s October 2022 production of Bizet’s Carmen.)
Founded in 2002, Ballet Victoria is a boutique professional ballet company with 12 dancers and four yearly productions. Their performances are dramatic, technically demanding, and often laced with humour. The company’s productions are accessible and relevant to a wide range of multicultural audiences. They are entertaining, hold great artistic depth and satisfy both those who discover ballet and the expert aficionado. Under the direction of Paul Destrooper, innovation is happening, quietly but insistently. Music inspires bodies to create beauty and harmony in dance. Having produced close to 100 new works, including 10 full length ballets, Ballet Victoria’s artistic team is constantly exploring new territory, and has toured in Canada, the USA and Mexico.
In the balance of this, the company’s 21st anniversary season, Ballet Victoria is looking forward to performing two further productions. With Dracula, the original vampire’s legend of immortal love lives on in as extraordinary ballet full of sensuous dancing, haunting projections and sultry costumes (March 15–17, 2024). Then the epitome of classical ballet, Swan Lake, features Tchaikovsky’s scintillating music, as Prince Siegfried’s love with maiden-turned-white-swan Odette is tested by evil sorcerer Rothbart and his black-swan enchantress, Odile (May 17–18, 2024).