Dr. Sophie Louise Roland
Hailed for her “excellence, purity of voice and emotional intensity,” Dr. Sophie Louise Roland (DM Indiana University 2007) recently sang the roles of Maddalena with Ente Concerti di Iglesias, Maurya in Vaughan Williams’ Riders to the Sea with the Gratchen Festival, Carmen, Dido and the Sorceress in Purcell’s Dido and Æneas and as Storge in Handel’s Jeptha with American Opera Theater, Carmen and Suzuki with Ente Concerti di Iglesias, Cornelia in Giulio Cesare with Orchestra London, Maddelena in Verdi’s Rigoletto with Opera York, Madama Butterfly’s Suzuki for Pellegrini Opera, Madonna Capuleti and Tebaldo in the International Opera Theater’s world premiere of Romeo e Giulietta in Città della Pieve, Carmen with both American Opera Theater and Opera Lirica Italiana, Nicklausse in Les Contes d’Hoffmann with Opera Brasov, as well as the title role in Carmen with both Janiec Opera Company and Indiana University Opera Theater. Other highlights include La Prieure in Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites, Dame Quickly in Falstaff, La mère in Les Contes d’Hoffmann and Luna in the North American premiere of Jeppe by Sven David Sandström.
Dr. Roland’s lush voice, dazzling coloratura, engaging stage presence, and deeply expressive musicality have captivated audiences throughout North America and abroad. In addition to her operatic credits, Dr. Roland has appeared in concert with ensembles such as Orchestra London with Timothy Vernon and Alain Trudel conducting, Orchestre symphonique de Trois-Rivières under the baton of Jacques Lacombe, the Windsor Symphony with John Morris Russell, the Guelph Chamber Choir, the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra, The Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, Symphony Hamilton, London Fanshawe Symphonic Orchestra, and the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony. Dr. Roland recently was featured singing in Jean-Claude Labrecque’s film, Infiniment Québec and on the artist Jorane’s compilation CD, Jorane X. She also appeared in Prokofiev’s Alexander Nevsky under the baton of Maestro Erick Kunzel, was chosen to participate for the celebrations in honor of Marilyn Horne’s 70th birthday at Carnegie Hall.
In addition to maintaining an active directing career, Dr. Roland currently holds the rank of Associate Professor of Music in the Don Wright Faculty of Music at the University of Western Ontario, where she is Chair of the Music Performance Studies Division. Ms. Roland’s students have won National and International competitions such as Metropolitan Opera Auditions, NATS Regional and District Auditions, the NATSAA Competition, and grants with the Jacqueline Desmarais Foundation. She is also the General Director of the both the Canadian Operatic Arts Academy and the Accademia Europea Dell’Opera.
The Canadian Operatic Arts Academy (COAA), an international program that educates singers, pianists and directors for a successful career in the operatic profession, was launched in the Don Wright Faculty of Music by Dr. Roland in May 2009 and will enter its seventh season this spring. Participants have included domestic and international students while the faculty includes directors from La Scala, Juilliard, the Metropolitain Opera, San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand Opera, the Chicago Opera Theater, and Opéra de Montréal. Since 2010, the program has included an ongoing collaboration with Orchestra London Canada in presenting noted productions.
Subsequently, in Summer of 2011, the Faculty of Music, under the continued leadership of Dr.
Roland established an arrangement with the Centro Studi Opera Omnia Luigi Boccherini in Lucca,
Italy, to replicate the COAA program; it was named the Accademia Europea dell’Opera (AEDO). In Summer 2012 it returned to Lucca and Amsterdam, the Netherlands. COAA’s core faculty led both AEDO projects and were joined by guest artists from Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, and the UK. to deliver instruction to students from Canada, the U.S., Europe, South America, and Asia. Specific outcomes are linked to each discipline and targeted learning outcomes across disciplines are achieved through engagement in cultural, historical, academic and performance-based experiences; knowledge mobilization occurs in performance performances, lectures, presentations and publications. The setting, i.e., Lucca, serves as a rich context in that it holds significant history within Italy’s tradition and cultural identity of the Western European Art form, including Opera. Lucca was recently selected as a candidate to receive the title “Citta creative della musica” by the UNESCO. Through the Accademia Europea Dell’ Opera, the particpants engage in a program that models the rhythm and energy of the professional operatic experience, i.e., they learn and perform full operas with orchestras in the European opera tradition. In preparation for those experiences, artists receive coaching and direction aimed at furthering their understanding of character through music, text, physicality, and drama. In addition they participate in masterclasses, and sessions involving movement, stage combat, dramatic workshops, and professional development. Each of these bodies of knowledge will be comprehensively experienced through immediate application in rehearsals and performances. The resulting product will be an intelligent performance that allows audience members to gain insights about and in the opera–an example of knowledge mobilization in cultural context. They also receive Italian instructions and immediately utilize this knowledge in the Italian culture while in residency in Lucca.
For this research, Dr. Roland was awarded a $50,000 grant from Western International in 2013. In the past seven years, hundreds of young artists have successfully taken parts of these academies before embarking onto their professional artistic careers. They have come from all over the world and are now ambassadors of this excellence in artistic creation.
Most recently, Dr. Roland was appointed as one of Western University’s Teaching Fellow, a prestigious award and grant promoting and rewarding excellence in research on teaching. She has also received a number of SSRHC grants to support research projects in experiential learning.