Kathy Domoney is the Director of DAM aka Domoney Artists Management who represent artists you may know & love. DAM now begets DAM Concert Opera, putting some of those artists onstage beginning with Rossini’s Le Comte Ory March 2nd at Trinity St Paul’s Centre.
A new producer of opera is always welcome. I wanted to know more, so I asked Kathy some questions.
BB: Are you more like your father or your mother?
Well, I would say I’m a combination of both.
My father was a self-made man, with a grade nine education, who was a mechanic in the Air Force during WW2. He was happy with a drink in his hand, and was an excellent golfer. He enjoyed the outdoor life of fishing and camping and was a terrific card player, too. My father was a born salesman and was manager of the shoe department in Woodwards Department Store in rugged Port Alberni, BC, where we lived til I was 9 years old.
My mother came from a cultured, educated, musical Oak Bay family (the Beckwiths) and was keen to return to Victoria. She spotted an ad for a shoe store for sale in downtown Victoria, so we moved there, opening Domoney Shoes. My mother was a patient, wonderful grade 1 teacher for over 30 years, and gave me my first piano lesson. She was an avid gardener, and loved dance and music, encouraging my studies in voice. My mother was not interested in fashion or the latest styles.
My father was keenly aware of style and trends, and was a dapper dresser. When I was about 20, he offered me the option of taking over Domoney Shoes , but the call of music was stronger, so we sold the business. I applied and was accepted to University of Toronto as a Voice Performance Major. On days when I am less patient, more critical and inclined to say “ you’re doing that wrong”, I can hear the voice of my father, Ben. On days when I think of my mother, I can hear Sheila’s voice saying “ oh, may I show you another way of doing that? ” My father was a savvy businessman, and I spent summers and weekends working with him at our shoe store. I learned a great deal about how to strike up a conversation with complete strangers, how to really listen, and close a sale, how to build trust so that today’s satisfied customer leads to future business. My mother’s ability to coach, encourage and give constructive criticism is something I try to incorporate as an artist manager, when working with my singers on their career development.
BB: What is the best or worst thing about what you do?
The best is sharing the excitement and joys of my artists’ success. The worst is sharing the disappointment of my artists, waiting for “yes, you got the job!”, and dealing with “ no, they don’t want you this time”.
BB: Who do you like to listen to or watch?
I prefer having music in the background, so in my office I generally listen to BBC radio 3. I love their programming, which is generally a terrific range of classical/choral/orchestral music.
As a change of pace, I love to listen to classic jazz (Chet Baker, Jobim, Blossom Dearie) and I love Fado, with Amalia Rodriguez and also Madeleine Peyroux, Melody Gardot, Kat Edmondson…. I am never far from Sinatra and Eileen Farrell, just to revel in their voices and diction, such style! I saw Joan Sutherland and Pavarotti as a teenager, so I have a special fondness for both of these icons…and will gladly spend some quality time with their recordings, too. When I’m driving, I bounce along to Broadway or Met Opera on SiriusXM.
TV and Netflix – I’m currently revelling in Victoria on Masterpiece, and I enjoy many gloomy murder mysteries like Shetland, Endeavour, Maigret, Luther and Vera. I also enjoy current TV shows like This is Us, The Blacklist, How to Get Away with Murder, and never miss Coronation Street.
BB: What ability or skill do you wish you had, that you don’t have?
I do wish I had learned to ice skate with more confidence. I was a very timid little child, and afraid of horses, swimming, how to ride a bike, I never tried skiing….and skating ended when my music lessons took over my busy weekends. Both my parents were skilled at athletic pursuits, and were very patient in helping me overcome my fears.
BB: When you’re just relaxing and not working, what is your favourite thing to do?
When I need a break from a typical work day (writing and replying to dozens of emails, requests for auditions, editing artists’ bios, contacting organizations about auditions, discussing repertoire with singers, negotiating engagement details, planning auditions, completing contracts for artists, updating social media for artists’ performances) I can happily relax with watching Love it or List it Vancouver, or Say Yes to the Dress. Watching other people shop – whether for houses or dresses – is very entertaining!
When I’m not on the road, I love my little city garden, so from spring to fall I am happy to plan and putter in my flower garden. When I travel to see my artists perform, I always look for a local museum/art gallery, stately home or botanical garden to visit in between performances and meetings. This spring, I will be in London UK, and can’t wait to visit the Dior exhibit at Victoria and Albert Museum as well as the Chelsea Flower show.
More questions for Kathy Domoney and the upcoming presentation of Le Comte Ory by DAM Concert Opera on March 2nd.
BB: Who are you, KD? Tell us about your background that leads to DAM Concert Opera.
My singing career was a very enjoyable blend of staged opera, concert opera, song recitals and oratorio with orchestras and choirs. I was privileged to sing with some wonderful colleagues at the Canadian Opera Company, the Aldeburgh Connection, Tafelmusik, Opera Atelier, at the National Arts Centre, with Metropolitan Opera Guild in New York, and as a guest soloist with many of Canada’s orchestras, from Victoria to Ottawa in a wide range of range of music from baroque era to world premieres.
BB: Talk about the artists that we’ll be hearing in Le Comte Ory
I am lucky to have artists on my roster who excel in the specific vocal demands of Rossini – namely, dazzling fast notes , easy high notes, a beautiful legato line, as well as a keen sense of comedic acting in opera.
Asitha Tennekoon stars in the title role as Count Ory, who is has all of these qualities. Ian Ritchie commented on Asitha’s “ boundless strings of high notes, a dazzling virtuoso display of impossibly quick runs” (Bound, Against the Grain Theatre). Asitha recently debuted in Champion with Opera de Montreal, and is well-known to Toronto audiences for his impressive performances with Tapestry Opera, Opera 5 and Voicebox: Opera in Concert. He debuts with Toronto Mendelssohn Choir in Haydn’s Mass in Time of War and sings his first Evangelist in Bach’s St. John Passion with Ottawa Choral Society and joins the cast of Tapestry Opera and Opera on the Avalon’s premiere of Shanawdithit.
Caitlin Wood stars as Countess Adele, having recently sung Adele the lowly chambermaid in Die Fledermaus with Toronto Operetta Theatre, where she “exploded with personality – and thrilling ring – each time she sang” (Greg Finney, Schmopera). Caitlin earned rave reviews as Susanna in Marriage of Figaro with Vancouver Opera Festival and this season sings Carmina Burana with Ottawa Choral Society and rocks out to Abba Mia! at Westben Festival this summer. In 2020, Caitlin sings her first Cunegonde with Edmonton Opera’s Candide.
Marjorie Maltais first came to the attention of Toronto audiences in 2015 at COC Centre Stage Competition, where she “ wowed us with a stunning Cenerentola….fiery eyes…remarkable coloratura” (Greg Finney, Schmopera). Noted for her performance as Cherubino with Voicebox:Opera in Concert in Mercadente’s I Due Figaro and as Mrs. Goby in The Medium with Victory Hall Opera in Charlottesville, Virginia, Marjorie premieres Ian Cusson’s song cycle Le Récital des Anges at Canadian Opera Company’s Noon Hour Recital Series on March 5, and is a guest artist with Les Boreades/St. Lawrence Choir in Bach Cantatas at Salle Bourgie, Montreal. In June, Marjorie will perform in “Versailles: Portrait of a Royal Domain”, featuring operas by Charpentier/Lalande in her debut with Boston Early Music Festival .
Joining this formidable cast are two established singers, baritone Dion Mazerolle as the Gouverneur, and Maria Soulis, as Dame Ragonde. Dion recently sang the role of Giorgio Germont in La Traviata with Societe d’art Lyrique de Royaume in Chicoutimi, Quebec, Bach’s B Minor Mass with Montreal’s Ensemble Caprice, and will be making his debut with Against the Grain Theatre in their production of Vivier’s Kopernikus . Mezzo soprano Maria Soulis recently portrayed the Mayor’s Wife in Jenufa with Pacific Opera Victoria, as well as Clara in Tapestry Opera’s Oksana G, and this season sings Respighi’s Il Tramonto with Toronto Sinfonietta and in concert with Harbourfront Music Garden.
Baritone Clarence Frazer rounds out the cast as Raimbaud, having recently sung Marcello in La boheme with Saskatoon Opera. Highlights this season for Clarence include Handel’s Israel in Egypt with Ottawa’s Caelis Academy Ensemble, Mozart Requiem with Windsor Symphony, and Shanawdithit with Tapestry Opera/Opera on the Avalon, as well as Antonio/Figaro(Understudy) in National Arts Centre’s concert performances of Le Nozze di Figaro.
I am always keen to showcase my wonderful roster of singers – depending on schedules and availability, we may indeed present another concert opera next season.
BB: how did you get the idea for DAM (Domoney Artists Management) Concert Opera, to present Le Comte Ory (why this opera)? And tell us how you’ll be presenting Le Comte Ory
When Caitlin Wood was invited to sing Adele in Le Comte Ory with Edmonton Opera, and Asitha was asked to come understudy John Tessier in the title role, it just made sense to me to give both of these singers a chance to “ try out” these roles, and for Toronto audiences to have a chance to see them. I do like to create events and putting on my “ Impresario” hat on occasion – a few years ago, I wrote and produced The Star of Robbie Burns, and thought it would be fun to share this beautiful music with a curious audience. I have fond memories of singing in the chorus of the COC production at the Elgin Theatre in 1994, and it has been a real joy to re-acquaint myself with this opera.
One summer, I saw François Racine direct Le Tragedie de Carmen at Highlands Opera Studio and I was absolutely enthralled. I have a vivid memory of all the cast standing still on stage at the beginning, as he talked and walked around each singer – explaining their personality, their wants and desires, as well as their relationship to each character in the opera, and sometimes speaking to them directly. I tucked that image away, and when the idea began to develop about producing a concert version of Le Comte Ory, I knew immediately that François and his style of “Interactive narration” was exactly what I wanted to present.
This will be a night of storytelling , with François leading the audience through the silly plot and scenes. We have eliminated the womens’ chorus and a few small roles, kept a small male chorus and are focusing on the main arias/duets/ensembles for the singers. We will enhance it all with a few props and costume elements to give a stronger sense of what is happening, with whom, and where in the castle.
The singers will be using their scores, sometimes carried in their hands, or on a music stand, and singing in French, with Nicole Bellamy (music director), leading from the piano.
The audience can just sit back and listen and watch – no need to look at surtitles, or read program notes/synopsis….it is all about watching the fun and enjoying the magnificent singing.
It is entirely possible that we may present another DAM Concert Opera in the future…it depends on timing, availability of artists, and finding appealing repertoire to best showcase my artists. I do believe that audiences will really enjoy this style of presenting, with a host/narrator.
We chose Le Comte Ory for a combination of reasons – primarily to give Caitlin and Asitha a chance to perform it before singing it in Edmonton; it has some of the most gorgeous music; my other singers had a window of availability to sing the other roles; it is a silly, fun story, and after our long winter, I think comedy is especially enjoyable to see. I am excited to give Toronto audiences a taste of this fresh, entertaining way to present opera.
I remember it being absolutely fun, with lots of silly stage business …and exquisite floating moments of the most sublime singing, to counter the comedic scenes.
I will share an anecdote – at a staging rehearsal at the Elgin Theatre, all of the women were kneeling with heads bowed in the scene and from above, a crescent moon was supposed to gently float down. Well, due to some mishap, the floating became a crash, and it landed on the head of the lead soprano, knocking her over…she who was not seriously injured, but promptly left the production and was replaced.
Live theatre is always an adventure!
BB: are there any influences you would care to mention?
Oh, so many people…I would say I was very lucky to have studied voice with sensible teachers as a teen in Victoria (Kathleen Paulin, Frances James)and Edward Parker, piano. It was such a privilege to have Bruce Ubukata as my studio pianist and recital partner when I studied with Helen Simmie at UofT; I was extremely fortunate to spend a summer at Banff Centre as Nanetta in Falstaff, directed by Colin Graham, and to be coached by Evelyn Lear and Donald Palumbo. Don Tarnawski was a demanding but wonderful coach, and I was always VERY prepared as a soloist, thanks to his insight. When I left my singing career and was considering this new direction as an Artist Manager, I consulted several colleagues about this crazy business…and know that I can ask for input from these same people anytime.
I would like to say that I owe a great deal to both my parents, who were so encouraging and helpful, in urging me try new things, and to overcome my fears and gain confidence, which we all need to thrive in today’s demanding world.
DAM Concert Opera presents Rossini’s Le Comte Ory March 2nd at Trinity St Paul’s Centre at 7:30 p.m. Click here for ticket info.