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West Coast to festival toast

U of M opera student from B.C. takes the Rose Bowl for best vocal performance

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Moving to Winnipeg to study opera continues to pay off for Anne-Marie MacIntosh.

The 22-year-old UBC graduate from Langley, B.C., won the Rose Bowl trophy for the best vocal performance at the Winnipeg Music Festival Saturday night at Westminster United Church.

MacIntosh, a coloratura soprano, moved to Winnipeg in September to take a masters degree in opera performance at the University of Manitoba. The chance to study under Tracy Dahl, the coloratura soprano great and instructor at the Marcel A. Desautels Faculty of Music, was too valuable an opportunity to pass up, MacIntosh said.

"She has the same voice as me and it gives me a chance to fix any voice issues I have," MacIntosh said of Dahl, herself a past Rose Bowl winner. "But I've found out how great the rest of the faculty is."

MacIntosh is no rookie to the music festival scene. She won the B.C. provincials in 2008 and since moving to Manitoba has taken part in competitions in North Dakota and St. Paul, Minn., but 2013 was the first experience with the Winnipeg Music Festival, which celebrated its 95th year this year.

"I didn't realize how big a deal it was. Hopefully it will open some doors for me in Winnipeg," MacIntosh said.

Jessica Kos-Whicher and Ainsley Wray were runners-up in the Rose Bowl trophy competition.

On Saturday, MacIntosh performed Lied der Delphine, by Franz Schubert, the song that won her the Herbert and Audrey Belyea Trophy for most outstanding performance of a German lied, and Je suis Titania, from the opera Mignon, by Ambroise Thomas.

She's been rehearsing Lied der Delphine for months in preparation for the festival and for a graduate voice recital next month at the U of M. When a second song was required for the Rose Bowl, Je suis Titania was one "I had in my back pocket for years," MacIntosh said.

MacIntosh spends plenty of time practising and developing her vocals at the U of M as well as taking classes on musical theory, the history of music and diction from several different languages. Those foreign diction classes are proving handy -- Lied der Delphine is sung in German while Je suis Titania is in French.

She's looking forward to finishing her masters at the U of M next year, and to do that, she'll have to take classes that will help her with opera's theatrical side and in the presentation of arias.

She found out while performing with Edmonton-based Opera Nuovo that she has to hit all the notes in a variety of awkward situations.

"It's a lot of hard work to hit a really high note while being held horizontally in the air by four men," MacIntosh said. "You really have to be solid in your technique."

She was also glad that her vocal cords withstood their first exposure to a cold, dry Prairie winter.

"I was really nervous," MacIntosh recalled when she chose to enrol at the U of M. "In Vancouver we're really spoiled -- when the temperature goes down to zero everyone starts complaining.

"But I got acclimatized really fast. I feel proud I lived through a real Canadian winter."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 19, 2013 C5

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