Opera Northwest Presents The Marriage of Figaro

Following January’s sold-out debut concert, A Night at the Opera, Opera Northwest will proudly present its premiere ticketproduction of W. A. Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro for a strictly limited two-performance engagement on stage at Magnus Theatre, June 17 and 18 at 7pm. The performance will feature Evan Korbut, Olivia Whiddon, Mark Ellis Gough, and Theresa Thibert, including a full ensemble and members of the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra.

Opera Northwest, founded in 2015 by Thibert and musical director Sean Kim, is proud to bring Mozart’s timeless and classic opera to Thunder Bay for the new company’s first staged production, the first operatic production staged in Thunder Bay in nearly a decade. Intense rehearsals with the principles and the ensemble have been underway since late March. The production’s inventive, minimalist presentation sees The Marriage of Figaro set in the early 1960s — a new, fun, stylish yet faithful adaptation. Tickets are available at Calico Coffeehouse, Renaissance Cafe, and eventbrite.compatrons can find the event link in an easy search by entering The Marriage of Figaro.

As a founder of Opera Northwest and the artistic director for this production, Thibert has been able to coach singers vocally, stage direct, coach Italian language with the cast, and experience all aspects of production — in addition to singing the role of the Countess. After The Marriage of Figaro wraps, Thibert will head to Italy to perform again with Academia Europea dell’Opera in the academies production of Handel’s Radamisto in July.

About the principal vocalists: 

Evan Korbut (Figaro) was born and raised in Sault Ste. Marie, ON. He started his musical training at age 4, and played violin for 13 years. He has appeared in UWOpera’s production of Die Fledermaus as Eisenstein, and La Musica Lirica’s production of La Boheme as Marcello. He performed both Danilo in The Merry Widow and Guglielmo in Cosi Fan Tutte in UWOpera’s 2012-2013 season, as well as Tarquinius in The Rape of Lucretia later in 2013, and Dandini in La Cenerentola in association with FIO Americas in Brazil that same year. He then performed in The Rape of Lucretia with MYOpera in its 2016 season, this time singing the role of Junius. He is now greatly looking forward to performing the title role in Opera Northwest’s production of The Marriage of Figaro.

Olivia Whiddon (Susanna) Olivia graduated from Brandon University in 2007 with a Bachelors in Music and in 2009 from the University of Manitoba with a Post Baccalaureate in Performance. In 2004 she won the Vocal Rose Bowl in the Kenora District Festival of the Arts. In 2011 Olivia moved back to Kenora and began teaching voice lessons. She is also an artist in residence with the Ontario Arts Council (OAC) for the Kenora region. Olivia is busy as both a teacher and professional singer. She recently returned from Europe where she studied and sang at “Si Parla, Si Canta” in Urbania, Italy and at the Académie Internationale d’ete de Nice in France. In 2014 she sang the role of Papagena in the Blooming Voce Opera Workshop’s presentation of Mozart’s The Magic Flute. Other performances include: excerpts from Handel’s Messiah, with Canadian tenor Leonard Whiting, as a guest soloist for the Kenora Strings; and most recently, as a guest artist with the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra. This is Olivia’s second time playing Susanna and she recently finished her debut in the role with Kenora’s TryLight Theatre company. Coincidentally, Susanna is the character that first interested her in opera

Mark Ellis Gough (Count Almaviva) is a lyric baritone from the small town of Mount Brydges, Ontario, Canada. His teachers have included Torin Chiles, Theodore Baerg, and Patrick Raftery. He received his Bachelor of Musical Arts and an Artist Diploma from the Don Wright Faculty of Music at the University of Western Ontario. He has also acheived a Master’s Degree in Classical Musical Theatre from the Fontys Hogeskoole voor de Kunsten in Tilburg, Holland. Mark was a member of Opera Lyra Ottawa’s Opera Studio where he performed several roles for their Education Outreach Program. He premiered the role of The Donkey in Dean Burry’s children’s opera The Bremen Town Musicians. Mr. Gough made his European debut in the summer of 2009 as Calchas in La Belle Hélène. In the summer of 2011 he performed Il Conte D’Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro in the inaugural season of the Academia Europea Dell’Opera in Italy. He was engaged with the Calgary Opera Emerging Artist program in their 2011-2012 season where he sang in the Canadian premier of Moby Dick by Jake Heggie and performed Benoit in La Boheme. In 2012 Mark was a member of Opera Studio Nederland under the direction of Timothy Nelson. He performs regularly across Europe and the UK.

Theresa Thibert (Contessa) is a graduate of the Masters of Music, Performance program at the University of Western Ontario under the direction of Sophie Louise Roland. Theresa also completed a Post Bachelor’s Diploma in Vocal Performance from University of Manitoba, under the direction of Mel Braun. In 2012, Thibert travelled to Italy for the first time, performing three roles in two Puccini operas, and Mozart’s The Magic Flute as part of the Academia Europa dell’ Opera young artist program. In 2015, she returned to the program in Lucca Italy, and sang the role of Tisbe in Rossini’s La Cenerentola. During this time, she had the opportunity to study with world renowned vocal coach Enza Ferrarri, who was the coach to Maria Callas during Callas’s early operatic career. Thibert has appeared as a soloist with the TBSO and Orchestra London Ontario multiple times. Theresa also holds an Artist Diploma in Opera Performance from the University of Manitoba, and her HBA Music degree from Lakehead University. In addition to COAA and AEDO summer programs, Theresa has sung roles and scenes at the U of Manitoba Contemporary Opera Lab, and was a member of the U of M’s XIE- eXperimental Improv Ensemble and performed electronic music at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. Additional theatre productions for Theresa have been The Coronation of Poppea, South Pacific, Suor Angelica, Gianni Schicci and The Magic Flute, and Cambrian Player’s The War Show.

Sean Kim (Musical Director) Born in Korea, raised in Toronto, Sean attended Western University (formerly the University of Western Ontario) to complete his Bachelors (2001) and Masters (2003) degrees in composition. Currently, he is a Ph.D. candidate in Systematic Musicology working under the guidance of Dr. Paul Frehner. His compositions and arrangements have been performed by various ensembles including the Windsor Symphony Orchestra, Esprit Orchestra, Blyth Festival Orchestra, Korean- Canadian Symphony Orchestra, Brassroots, London Singers, SoundStreams, Ensemble Transmission and Aventa Ensemble, and also by various soloists in Spain and South Korea. Currently, Sean serves St. Paul’s Anglican Church as a music director and St. Agnes Roman Catholic Church as an accompanist for 5 pm and 7 pm masses, teaches piano at Avila Music School and continues to serve as an examiner for Conservatory Canada in both practical and theoretical studies. Sean is proud to be a founding member of Opera Northwest.