Who We Are

Opera McGill

Opera McGill Mission Statement:

To train, inspire, nurture and educate the next generation of singers for success on the operatic stage through a comprehensive program focused on excellence and the individual needs of our students.


Opera McGill Defined:

As one of the leading opera training programs in North America, Opera McGill’s students come from all over Canada, the United States, and Europe. At least three new productions are created each season: a mainstage opera with orchestra, a baroque opera with period instruments and tuning (in collaboration with the Early Music program), and a “black box” production. Additionally, Opera McGill has inaugurated a series of Community Engagement and Educational Outreach Events that allow students to perform off-campus in the Montreal area as well as in the CEGEPs and elementary schools.

After a successful audition in the fall, which is open to all undergraduate and graduate voice students, the selected casts receive extensive coachings on their role(s), classes in audition techniques, seminars on summer programs, headshots and resumes, and specialized master classes from experts in their respective operatic fields that focus on everything from the business of opera to period movement.  Acting techniques are introduced through classes and the staging rehearsal process while bodywork is done through Tai Chi classes and Feldenkreis sessions.

Each production is rehearsed in the spectacular Wirth Opera Studio over the course of many weeks prior to the performances.  Special care is given to the details of the musical score, the creation of a character’s internal emotional core, his or her physical characterization, and a deep exploration of the meaning of the text.  All productions are fully designed in either period or in update, with sets, costumes, lights and props designed specifically for each cast and show.

An important aspect of Opera McGill is the exploration of the seven multiple intelligences of opera (Musical, Linguistic, Kinesthetic, Mathematical, Spatial, Interpersonal and Intrapersonal). The students become stronger in these “intelligences” through vocal coachings, one-on-one dramatic coachings, audition and acting techniques classes, physical movement classes (such as Tai Chi), Feldenkreis instruction, and group discussions about the business aspects of opera.


Opera McGill Philosophy:

“Erase your chalkboard, Write your future”

“One cannot teach a cup that is already full”

For more info: see patricksoperablog.blogspot.com


Masters of Opera:

Masters of Opera students are cast in a minimum of 2 Roles: 1 lead role and 1 lead or featured role

Masters of Opera students receive an Integrated Feedback Session with their coaches, teachers, and Director of Opera Studies to discuss their current abilities, long and short term career goals, and issues that the student needs to focus on.

Masters of Opera students can experience all levels of operatic roles: Lead, Featured, Supporting, Bit, and Chorus Bit, as well as Covering roles and singing in the chorus giving them a Comprehensive Operatic Repertoire Experience (C.O.R.E.).


Opera McGill Team:

Patrick Hansen, Director of Opera Studies; vocal coach and stage director

Julian Wachner, Principal Conductor; vocal coach and Feldenkreiss instructor

Hank Knox, conductor and vocal coach for Baroque opera

Michael McMahon, vocal coach

François Racine, dramatic coach

Vincent Lefevre, set design and production coordinator

Ginette Grenier, costume design

Serge Filiatrault, lighting design


Director of Opera Studies, Patrick Hansen:

Defying classification, Mr. Hansen continues a professional conducting and directing career, in addition to being considered one of North America’s top vocal coaches.  His early success at McGill University brought him the Schulich School of Music Excellence in Teaching Award after only two years as associate professor and director of opera studies.

At ease in opera and musical theatre, Mr. Hansen is also a specialist in the bel canto repertoire, being one of the few of his generation to both conduct, direct, and produce works by Donizetti, Rossini, Bellini, and Verdi (Elisir d’amore, La fille du regiment, La Traviata, Sonnambula, Il barbieri di Siviglia, La Cenerentola for example).  Trained at The Julliard Opera Center, and then later as a rehearsal pianist under Maestro Palumbo at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Mr. Hansen made his conducting debut with Opera Memphis and later became the Music Director for Opera Festival of New Jersey, where he conducted the critically acclaimed productions of Burning Bright (a world premiere), Die Zauberflöte, Il Prigioniero, and Bluebeard’s Castle.

An accomplished pianist with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in piano performance, Mr. Hansen has played masterclasses for such esteemed artists Sherill Milnes, Roberta Peters, Evelyn Lear, Thomas Stewart, Catherine Malfitano, and Diana Soviero for the Glimmerglass Opera, Pittsburgh Opera Center, and Des Moines Metro Opera.

Prior to his appointment at McGill, Mr. Hansen was the former Director of Artistic Administration at Florida Grand Opera, where he helped to administrate the opening of the $500 million dollar performing arts center in downtown Miami, produced the world premiere of David Carlson’s Anna Karenina, and cast and hired artists such as Renata Scotto, Richard Bonynge, Patricia Racette, David Pittsinger, Sarah Coburn, Aaron St. Clair Nicholson, Brandon Jovanovich, Kelly Kaduce, David Gately, Dorothy Danner, and Renaud Doucet.

As the former director of musical studies for the Young American Artist Program at Glimmerglass Opera, Mr. Hansen spent multiple seasons coaching hundreds of singers on their operatic repertoire as well as focusing on their recital repertoire, as each young artist was presented in recital during the course of the summer season.  During his tenure at Glimmerglass, the young artist program’s profile grew to where it rivaled the best of the apprentice programs in the United States – as a number of singers chose to accept the Glimmerglass contracts over those from the Merola program and the Santa Fe Opera.

His stage directing credits encompass the entire spectrum of repertoire now being presented by opera companies: L’incoronazione di Poppea, Alcina, Orfeo ed Euridice, Cosi fan tutte, Die Zauberflöte, L’elisir d’amore, La traviata, Dialogues des Carmelites, Albert Herring, and The Rape of Lucretia, as well as the baroque specialties Dido and Aeneas, Imeneo, Thésée, Agrippina and the musicals Camelot and Trouble in Tahiti.

His conducting credits reflect an emphasis on 20th century literature and musical theatre but also include staples from the bel canto repertoire. They include Le Nozze di Figaro, Cosi fan tutte, Die Zauberflöte, Il barbieri di Siviglia, La Cenerentola, L’elisir d’amore, Suor Angelica, Gianni Schicchi, Il Prigioniero, Bluebeard’s Castle, The Tender Land, The Turn of the Screw, Albert HerringBurning Bright, Babes in Arms, Orpheus in the Underworld, A Little Night Music, Little Shop of Horrors, Trouble in Tahiti,  Parade, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, and The Pirates of Penzance.

During his 8 years as music director for the Opera and Musical Theatre programs at Ithaca College, Mr. Hansen trained numerous students who went on to acclaim on the Broadway stage including Aaron Tveit (Gabe in the Pulitzer Prize-winning Next to Normal), Matt Cavanaugh (Tony in West Side Story), and Zach James (Lurch in The Addam’s Family Musical).  His former students and young artists can be seen on the stages of Broadway, the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, Canadian Opera Company, L’Opera de Montreal, Covent Garden, Santa Fe Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Central City Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Dallas Opera, Ft. Worth Opera, and many others.

Mr. Hansen is the assistant editor for the 1st volume of G. Schirmer’s “Operatic Anthologies” for Soprano, Mezzo, Tenor, Baritone, and Bass.  He is also the pianist on a recorded set of Brass Methods books with the Canadian Brass for Hal Leonard publishing.

During 2010 through the 2011 season, Mr. Hansen will be directing Orfeo ed Euridice for Opera Memphis, directing L’elisir d’amore for the Wichita Grand Opera, directing Essential Puccini and Mostly Mahler for the Washington Chorus at the Kennedy Center, conducting The Pirates of Penzance at the Janiec Opera Company, directing La traviata  and La fille du regiment for the Wichita Grand Opera, and directing Trouble in Tahiti, Hansel und Gretel, La Bohème, and Imeneo for Opera McGill.  In February of 2011 Mr. Hansen presents his paper “Spatial leitmotivs in Operatic Design” at the International Conference on Design in Rome, Italy.


Principal Conductor, Julian Wachner:

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