A Comox Valley-raised opera singer performs on successive nights on this Valentine’s Day weekend with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.
Kathleen Brett — a soprano who grew up in Merville and graduated from Vanier Secondary School — is one of two vocal soloists in A Romantic Valentine that includes a host of American Songbook standards such as My Funny Valentine, Send in the Clowns, and selections from West Side Story.
Brett loves singing Mozart and Handel, contemporary music and the Great American Songbook, be it Broadway musicals such as South Pacific, or Cole Porter, Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald.
“Which is what we’ll be focusing on this weekend,” said Brett, a Courtenay resident who formerly lived in Toronto.
She is looking forward to reuniting Friday and Saturday with the VSO, with whom she has performed many times.
“It’s really lovely to go back.”
Brett has portrayed a variety of roles during a lengthy collaboration with the Canadian Opera Company. She has also been a guest artist in numerous American and European opera houses, and enjoyed a stint in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
“I’ve been on the road a long time,” Brett said. “When you’re an opera singer, you live everywhere and nowhere.”
The VSO website says she is cherished by audiences “not only for the beauty of her tone and stylistic instinct but also for her natural stage presence and dramatic skills.”
It’s safe to say music is in Brett’s blood. Her father’s side of the family was musical while her mother’s mother was an opera singer in Antwerp, Belgium. As fate would have it, Brett made her European debut at De Vlaamse Opera in Antwerp.
She credits the Vanier music program for being a “springboard” into thoughts about continuing studies in music. Brett attended the University of Winnipeg and transferred to Wilfrid Laurier University to complete a bachelor of music. She went straight into the Young Artists Program at the Canadian Opera Company in Toronto, then began singing professionally.
“Most of my career has been in opera and concert, but I do cross over into orchestral.”
She says opera is more accessible than people generally think.
“As my mentor said, ‘Opera is the greatest collaborative art form,’ ” she said, noting how all the players — singers, stagecraft, makeup artists and others — come together.
This weekend’s shows are at Vancouver’s Orpheum Theatre.