Simone Osborne describes herself as a “young Canadian soprano travelling the world to sing high notes.”
In 2013 she did just that, wowing international audiences in Japan, Switzerland, Dubai and Paris. She moved to Toronto five years ago from Vancouver, making a big splash in 2008 as one of the youngest winners of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in New York City. Her career has soared ever since.
On Sunday, Feb. 2, Osborne takes on the role of Oscar in the Canadian Opera Company’s A Masked Ball. This classic Verdi opera — the tale of a tragic love triangle — has been contemporized, taking place in an imagined American South and drawing on the political landscape of the Kennedy era.
So I thought it was fitting for us to start our date at King West’s Home of the Brave, knocking back a few Bourbon spiked cocktails. Throughout the evening we devoured endless plates of finger-licking-good Americana munchies: Chicken and waffles covered in spicy maple and crispy Maryland crab cakes.
I ask Osborne what comes to mind when she thinks of Jackie Kennedy. She gushes, “Heaven! She was glamorous, yet so refined.” Osborne lives and breathes these very character traits, tossing back her lush brown hair with a cool calm and throwing in a few giggles when the time is ripe.
When asked about singing on stage in this re-imagined classic, she says that “audiences will love the modern interpretation, it stays true to the music and the themes that Verdi was writing about.”
Where does Toronto’s globe-trotting opera belle spend her time when in town? You’ll likely find her at the Soho House. “I curl up by the piano and can study for hours on end. Because I travel so much for work, to be in a place where lots of my friends and colleagues frequent is great. You’re studying a German aria some Tuesday afternoon and a friend you haven’t seen in six months pops in for a cup of tea.”
Out of patriotic curiosity, I ask her whether the rest of the world perceives the Canadian Opera Company as a tour de force.
“There is something exciting happening, something new, they are bringing back Canada’s best artists,” she says.
“There’s a history of North American performers going over to Europe as there is so much more opportunity. Why not bring back the greatest Canadians and show what they can do on a Canadian stage?”
A Masked Ball takes the stage at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts on Feb. 2 for an eight-performance run, 145 Queen St. W. Tickets start at $12 and can be purchased online at coc.ca or at the box office.
- Pre-show. Enjoy dinner at Drake One Fifty where a pint of craft beer is best paired with the restaurant’s crave-worthy burger.
- Post-show. After the show, hop across University Avenue and sip a sparkling nightcap at Momofuku Nikai.