Part One: The World of Bravissimo…with Wallis Giunta

For the last few seasons, New Year’s Eve at Roy Thomson Hall has established quite a musical reputation for itself. An event that has brought together opera enthusiasts from all over the city, Bravissimo! Opera’s Greatest Hits was one of the very first productions that I worked on with the unstoppable duo, Attila and Marion Glatz – masterminds behind performances such as PBS’s latest sensation A Salute to Vienna

This delightful opera gala has brought together Canadian greats such as Isabel Bayrakdarian, David Pomeroy and Richard Margison. Two years ago, Wallis Giunta made her Bravissimo debut and is returning once again by popular demand. Next month, the mezzo soprano will also performing with the COC as Dorabella for Mozart’s Così fan tutte.

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Photo: Michael Edwards


A lot has changed since I last spoke with Wallis two years ago. What better way to finish off the year than having another wonderful chat with her once again.

1. This is your second time returning to the Bravissimo stage and we are so glad to have you back! What kind of repertoire can we expect tomorrow night in comparison to the 2011 performance?

The main difference this time, I would say, is that my repertoire is all exactly for my voice type, with Mozart, Rossini, and Bellini, compared to some pieces last time, like the Carmen and Rigoletto excerpts, which I can sing in concert, but not on the opera stage…yet! This time I have all roles I could do now, including two roles I have performed before, and even an excerpt from Cosi Fan Tutte, which I am in rehearsals for right now with the Canadian Opera Company.

2. For those attending Bravissimo for the very first time, how would you explain the musical atmosphere that will take over the evening?

It is truly opera’s greatest hits, and each piece on the program will be a selection of the best and most beautiful music in the whole repertoire.

3. From a performance perspective, how do you prepare for a musical event like Bravissimo in comparison to other productions?

We have much less time to prepare for an opera concert than a regular staged opera. With the former, you usually have just 2-3 rehearsals over a few days, and the latter can take anywhere from 2-6 weeks to put together.


Photo: Michael Edwards

I am extremely blessed to have the Ottawa designer McCaffrey Haute Couture dress me for all my concerts. When I have a performance coming up, we talk about the specific requirements and choose something from their collection, or collaborate to create something new. I am also the face of their label, and model for them when they launch new collections.

5. The world of fashion is changing within the classical music industry. How do you find your style evolving as you take on new productions, media opportunities, etc.?

I’ve realized that one’s image plays a very important role in how people perceive them, and judge their professionalism, dedication, maturity, etc. I am naturally inclined to be very simple, and even quite androgynous in the way I dress, but more and more now I find it helps to embrace a look which will meet people half-way between what they are expecting a female opera singer to look like, and how I really feel like presenting myself.

6. What is a typical Wallis outfit when you’re offstage?

I really like the simplicity and comfort of onesies, and I strive to find pieces that are fit for wearing in public, as opposed to the PJ variety. I’m also very happy in yoga clothes. I live and work in my body, and I really can’t deal with being constricted in my movement!


Photo: Michael Edwards

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