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, Sara joins Barbara Hannigan as an Equilibrium Young Artist, performing chamber music concerts under the esteemed soprano/conductor. She looks forward to the release of her debut album with Red Shift Records featuring music written for her by Amy Brandon and funded by the Canada Council for the Arts, as well as debuts with Thirteen Strings Ottawa, Confluence Concerts, Monument National and Good Mess Theatre and returns to Pacific Opera Victoria and Vancouver Opera.
In the 2021/2022 season, Schabas returned to Pacific Opera Victoria for a filmed production of Elizabeth Raum's The Garden of Alice, conducted by Timothy Vernon and directed by Glynis Leyshon. She debuted as soprano soloist in Messiah with the Kindred Spirits Orchestra, and starred in a film adaptation of her Dora-nominated performance as Anne Frank in Cecilia Livingston’s Singing Only Softly with Loose Tea Music Theatre (release date TBD). During the 2020/2021 season, saw 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 Opernhaus Zürich, as well as digital projects with Manitoba Opera. On stage, she performed with Baroque à Prangins in Switzerland, sang in a gala with Théâtre Lyrichorégra as a Lauréate of their Jeunes Ambassadeurs Lyriques. She also 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 as the Hummingbird in the world premiere of Maxine Goulet’s The Flight of the Hummingbird. 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.
Sara is a graduate of the University of Toronto, Roosevelt University in Chicago with additional studies at Vienna’s famed Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst. Her fellowships have included the Aspen Opera Center, Toronto Summer Music Festival, the Castleton Festival and the Fall Island Festival. Sara is passionate about giving back to her community through music. In 2019, she 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. She recently certified as a yoga teacher specializing in restorative yoga to promote musicians' wellness and is currently pursuing doctoral studies at McGill University.