Special to The Record
Melody Courage is excited to be returning to the Comox Valley, where she found her voice.
Courage, Tiffany Desrosiers, Joey Gabriel MacDonald and Joel Ros are Vancouver-based Vivace, a blend of classical and pop vocalists who will perform Dec. 8 at the Sid Williams Theatre.
Courage began singing as a young girl in Port Hardy, where she was supported by one of her teachers.
“I think he noticed I could sing because he gave me a few solos,” she says in a phone interview from Vancouver. “That was very encouraging for me.”
Her love of opera was sparked by a scene from the film Philadelphia that had operatic music in the background during a scene with Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington. The music provoked an emotional reaction, which led to Courage’s mother registering her for singing lessons in the Comox Valley with June Dupuis.
“We did little concerts every year and then I started competing in festivals,” followed by the head of music at Capilano College being impressed with her singing and inviting her to join the North Vancouver school’s post-secondary program, which led to a degree and diploma in opera performance from the Vancouver Academy of Music.
Getting work was a challenge because of fierce competition from so many other sopranos. Courage admits she was helped by having a coloratura soprano voice, which specializes in music that requires agile runs, leaps and trills.
Besides Vivace, she has performed professionally with Vancouver Opera since 2003, touring with their ensemble as The Queen of the Night in an adaptation from Mozart’s The Magic Flute. She was a featured soloist in Vivaldi’s Gloria with the National Arts Center Orchestra as well as performing The Messiah with the Prince George Symphony Orchestra.
Desrosiers, Vivace’s soprano, was a finalist in the 2012 Unsigned Only competition and received an honorary mention in vocal performance. She’s performed and collaborated with David Foster, Mark Masri, Ben Harper, Jackson Browne, Colin James and Loverboy.
Baritone MacDonald has been performing with Vivace since August 2017 and Pittsburgh singer-songwriter Ros contributes a style of pop singing infused with classical flair. Vivace held auditions before hiring MacDonald to fill a vacancy.
“What’s important to us is not only that they’re good singers because if they’re good singers they can … always adapt. Personality is big when with a group,” Courage adds.
“We spend a lot of time on the road together … It’s (fitting in) not more important than being a good singer; (it’s) just as important.”
Mixing classical opera with pop influences is a relatively new, little-known genre, she admits.
“Most older demographics know the genre from Il Divo, Michael Bublé a little bit, Josh Groban. It’s usually male singers who do this kind of music. I feel the pop flair appeals more to younger generations, so we’re not just this group that older people like.”
The Vivace sound didn’t develop overnight.
“It’s been years of exploration to see what works and what people like. We do a varying program. We have pop singers who do a duet and kind of rock out.”
Desrosiers, explains Courage, has an “insane” voice that can sound like Britney Spears or an opera singer.
Vivace, an Italian musical term that means lively, performed at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. The quartet has since toured extensively throughout the U.S. and Canada.
The group plans to record an album and have it for sale in time for its visit to Courtenay.
Vivace performs Dec. 8 at the Sid Williams Theatre in Courtenay as part of the 2018–2019 Blue Circle Series. For concert details and tickets, visit www.sidwilliamstheatre.com, phone 250-338-2430 or visit 442 Cliffe Ave.