Cast Biographies

WHOSE OPERA IS IT ANYWAY?
CAST BIOGRAPHIES

Gregory Finney
Host

Dora-Award winning performer Gregory Finney is a regular fixture in Toronto’s Opera scene. Performing with companies like Loose Tea Music Theatre (La Tragedie de Carmen; Autocorrect Operas), Against the Grain (La boheme, Figaro’s Wedding, Messiah), Toronto Operetta Theatre (Die Fledermaus, The Merry Widow, HMS Pinafore), and many others. Equally at home on the Musical Theatre stage Gregory’s been seen in Beauty and the Beast, Footloose: The Musical, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, and the Canadian Premiere of Jerry Springer: The Opera at Hart House. Greg is also a regular contributor and critic to the wildly popular opera blog Schmopera as well as La Scena Musicale based out of Montreal. Greg is excited to be returning (somewhat) to his theatre school roots hosting “Whose Opera is it Anyway?”.

Natasha Fransblow
Music Director

Natasha has enthusiastically carved her space in Toronto’s classical music community as a sought-after vocal collaborator and coach. A graduate of Dalhousie University (B.Mus.) and the University of Manitoba (M.Mus.), she held a faculty position as Undergraduate Vocal Coach at the U of M in Winnipeg and worked closely with their Opera Studies department. As a music director Natasha has worked with Summer Opera Lyric Theatre (Martha), Toronto Operetta Theatre (HMS Pinafore), and the Halifax Summer Opera Festival (Rodelinda). Natasha has a keen and active interest in exploring and pushing the boundaries of opera performance within the independent opera community. She joined MYOpera as music director in 2014 and has since had the pleasure of directing and performing Hänsel & Gretel, Béatrice et Bénédict, The Rape of Lucretia, and L’italiana in algeri to rave reviews. She recently joined Abridged Opera (Windsor, ON) for their 2017 production of Turn of the Screw. Natasha is thrilled to be continuing her exploration of improvisation, composition, and multidisciplinary collaboration as the Music Director for Loose Tea Music Theatre’s ongoing endeavours: Carmen, re-imagined and “Whose Opera is it Anyway?”. In addition to her involvement in opera, she is also a frequent recitalist and choral singer.

Amanda Cogan
Performer

Praised as “a captivating visual and vocal actress,” (Ludwig van Toronto) Soprano Amanda Cogan holds a Master of Music in Voice Performance with honors from the University of Toronto, where she graduated under the tutelage of renowned Canadian soprano Wendy Nielsen. She recently completed an intensive and showcase with MYOpera in Toronto, where she performed excerpts by Puccini, Weill, Lehar and Rossini. She is an alumnus of the distinguished Aspen Opera Theatre Centre at the Aspen Music Festival and School, where she performed on the stage of the Wheeler Opera House in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin. She was also featured in the Wheeler Opera House scenes performance series, as Catherine in Bolcom’s, a View from the Bridge, and as Ann Trulove in Stravinsky’s, Rake’s Progress. Ms. Cogan is also a graduate of the Accademia Europea Dell’Opera, where she sang the title role in Puccini’s Suor Angelica, and the St. Andrew’s Opera Workshop where she performed as Giulietta in an excerpt of Bellini’s i Capuleti e i Montecchi. As a member of U of T’s opera undergraduate program she appeared as Countess Almaviva in UofT’s excerpted performance of Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, and continued her development of the role as a member of the Opera Studio at the Centre for Opera Studies in Italy. Equally inspired by oratorio, in December of 2016 Miss Cogan made her professional symphony debut with the Mississauga Symphony Orchestra in Handel’s Messiah at the Living Arts Centre.

Amanda developed her improv chops as a graduate of Second City Toronto’s program, and is currently a writing student there.

Gillian Grossman
Performer

Praised for her charming stage presence and vibrant vocal timbre, soprano Gillian Grossman has earned success both at home and abroad. She recently debuted with the Georgian Bay Concert Choir as the soprano soloist in Mendelssohn’s Elijah. On the concert stage, Gillian was featured as the soprano soloist in Fauré’s Requiem with Masterworks of Oakville, under the baton of Charles Demuynck. She has appeared as the guest soloist with the Bluebridge Festival, Ardeleana, Aradia Ensemble, Etobicoke Centennial Choir, Arcady, the Boris Brott Festival, and La Chorale Cantabile. A long-time member of Shoestring Opera, Gillian has performed in Shoestring’s productions of Hansel and Gretel as Gretel, A Schoolyard Carmen, and Shoestring Magic Flute throughout the GTA.

A graduate of McGill University, Gillian holds both Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Vocal Performance. While at McGill, she was the recipient of both the Martha Schiller and Margaret Kalil Awards and performed such roles as Emmie (Albert Herring), Ida (Die Fledermaus), and Fiordiligi (Cosí fan tutte).

Rachel Krehm
Performer

Winner of the 2013 Capital City Critics Choice Award at the Ottawa Fringe for her solo performance in Poulenc’s La voix humaine (Opera 5), the Canadian-American soprano is establishing herself as a sophisticated performer in both the opera and theatre communities. A multi-faceted artist, Rachel is the co-founder and General Director of Opera 5 and the creator, co-writer and one of the performers of the children’s educational show Tenors, Trumpets and La Traviata, which debuted as part of the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony’s Family Series in March of 2014. This show was repeated with the Kingston Symphony in April 2016 along with an all new Opera Pop show called Opera at Warp Speed. Rachel’s interests also extend to comedy, and she is a regularly featured actor in the popular web-series, Opera Cheats (Opera 5).

Rachel holds a Master of Music and a Bachelor of Music from the Schulich School of Music at McGill University.

Erin Stone
Performer

Erin has been an active performer in Toronto for the past eleven years known for her rich voice, comedic wit and dramatic sensitivity. Some of Erin’s opera Credits include, Cookie in Talk Opera, Opera 5, Donna Anna in Don Giovanni, Opera by Request, Pamina in Die Zauberflöte, TSOW, Contessa in Le Nozze Di Figaro at Opera Nuova and UWOpera, Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus, with Rubato Casual Opera and UWOpera, First Witch in Dido & Aeneas, Summer Opera Lyric Theatre, Iolanthe, Toronto Operetta Theatre, Beatrice in Beatrice Chancey, Queen Of Puddings Songs And Scenes Programme, Otello, Opera Lyra, Cis in Albert Herring, Pamina & Giuletta in The Opera Gala, and Min & Grace in The Midnight Court, UWOpera. Solo symphonic performances include Handel’s Messiah and Saint-Saëns Christmas Oratorio with the ISO. Erin was a winner in the London Opera Guild scholarship competition, won first place at the NATS Ontario Chapter Auditions for the graduate and young professional category and was a finalist in the London Music Scholarship Foundation competition.

Erin completed her Master of Music at the University of Western Ontario where she studied with Christiane Riel.

Michael York
Performer

Baritone Michael York is originally from the San Francisco Bay Area and sang and taught in Illinois before becoming a resident of the Toronto area. Known for his strong voice and dramatic presence, he has recently sung the title role of Mephistopheles in Loose Tea’s acclaimed transadaption of Gounod’s Faust. Critic Ian Ritchie in Opera Going Toronto wrote “York’s delectable, smoky instrument drips with delicious malevolence, poised, commanding and irresistible.” Other recent roles include Macbeth in Verdi’s Macbeth and Renato in Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera, both in concert with Coro Verdi in Toronto. He has also succeeded in lighter fare with roles in Toronto Operetta Theatre’s premier production of Earnest, the Importance of Being, and Sgt. Malone in Wish Opera’s production of Rosemarie. Other roles in the Toronto area have included the titular Rigoletto with Opera York, the Count in The Marriage of Figaro with the Guelph Symphony, and dual roles in the premiere of Andrew Ager’s setting of Frankenstein. He can be heard on Sinfonia di Camera’s recording of the opera Oedipe by George Enescu on Albany records. Michael is also a member of the Canadian Opera Company chorus.

In concert, Michael was recently featured in Pax Christi’s celebrated North American premiere of Hubert Parry’s oratorio, Judith, which was professionally filmed and can be seen on YouTube. He has also appeared as a soloist with the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, Chorus Niagara, the Elora Festival, Arcady, the Brott Music Festival, Choralis Camerata and the Bach Artists of Champaign-Urbana in Illinois.