Headshot by Jessica Osber
As Najade in Ariadne auf Naxos (photo by Brenden Friesen)
As the Hummingbird in The Flight of the Hummingbird (photo by Nadia Zheng)
As Anne Frank in Singing Only Softly (photo by Alaina Viau)
Born and raised in Tkaronto, “the place in the water where the trees are standing,” Canadian soprano Sara Schabas (she/her) has been praised for her “crystalline singing” (Schmopera), “pure sound” (Ludwig van Toronto) and for maintaining a “clear soft tone, despite her vocal power” (Opera Canada). A 2019 Regional Finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Schabas was the 2018 winner of the Career Blueprint Award from the International Resource Centre for the Performing Arts, chosen by Adrianne Pieczonka, O.C. She is the 2019/2020 recipient of the Hnatyshyn Foundation Grant for Classical Vocal Performance, a 2020 recipient of a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts, a 2021 recipient of the Barbara Eves-Sharp Bursary from the Vancouver Opera Foundation and the Bourse Domaine Forget from the Concours Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal.
This season, Schabas looks forward to the premieres of her performances with Pacific Opera Victoria to sing the Dormouse in a filmed production of Elizabeth Raum's The Garden of Alice, conducted by Timothy Vernon and directed by Glynis Leyshon, singing as soprano soloist in Messiah with the Kindred Spirits Orchestra, and the digital reprise of her Dora-nominated performance as Anne Frank in Cecilia Livingston’s Singing Only Softly with Loose Tea Music Theatre. She also looks forward to recording her debut album with Red Shift Records, funded by the Canada Council for the Arts, and joining Barbara Hannigan and Simon Rivard as an Equilibrium Young Artist, performing chamber music by Stravinsky in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.
Despite the challenges of the Coronavirus pandemic, Schabas participated in many digital endeavours during the 2020/2021 season, including work with Pacific Opera Victoria, the airing of her performance as the Hummingbird in POV/Vancouver Opera’s The Flight of the Hummingbird, a digital recital for Highlands Opera Studio with Marie-Ève Scarfone in the Spiegelsaal of the Opernhaus Zürich, as well as projects with Manitoba Opera as the soprano in their quartet of Digital Emerging Artists. On stage, she performed excerpts of L’incoronazione di Poppea and Alcina in Prangins, Switzerland, sang in a gala with Théâtre Lyrichorégra in Montréal, Québec as a Lauréate of their Jeunes Ambassadeurs Lyriques. She returned to Highlands Opera Studio as Zerlina in Don Giovanni, and looked forward to returning to the Internationale Barocktage Melk in Austria, singing First Witch and covering Belinda in Dido and Aeneas with the Concentus Musicus Wien in a televised performance conducted by Stefan Gottfried (cancelled due to Covid-19).
In the 2019/2020 season, Schabas debuted with Vancouver Opera and Pacific Opera Victoria, starring as the Hummingbird in the world premiere of Maxine Goulet’s The Flight of the Hummingbird, in a tour of Western Canada. She made a soloist debut with the Bach-Elgar Choir in Handel’s Messiah, and performed as Anne Frank in the world debut of Cecilia Livingston’s Singing Only Softly with Loose Tea Music Theatre, earning her a Dora Award Nomination for Outstanding Performance by an Individual. A former artist-in-residence with the Dayton Opera, Schabas’ previous roles have included Papagena (Die Zauberflöte), Juliette (Roméo et Juliette), Corinna (Il viaggio a Reims), Najade (Ariadne auf Naxos), Frasquita (Carmen), as well as Henri in the Dora-nominated production of Bandits in the Valley with Tapestry Opera. Previous soloist engagements have included performances with the Dayton Philharmonic, Mississauga Symphony, Stratford Summer Music Festival, Oakville Chamber Orchestra, the Canadian Opera Company Free Concert Series, and in Mahler’s Fourth Symphony at the Castleton Festival under the late Lorin Maazel.
A graduate of the University of Toronto, Roosevelt University in Chicago and with additional studies at Vienna’s famed Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst, Schabas’ fellowships have included the Aspen Opera Center, Toronto Summer Music Festival, the Castleton Festival and the Fall Island Festival. Passionate about the intersection of music and social justice, Schabas has also produced the Canadian premieres of Jake Heggie’s Holocaust one-act operas Another Sunrise and Farewell, Auschwitz, and has worked as a singer and volunteer for the charities Songs by Heart and Sharing Notes, bringing music to hospital patients and people living with Alzheimer’s and Dementia. As a writer, her work has been published in Opera Canada Magazine, Ludwig Van Toronto, Schmopera and the Canadian Jewish News.