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Shannon Mercer (Soprano)

Born: Ottawa, Canada

The Canadian soprano, Shannon Mercer, is an alumnus of San Francisco Opera's prestigious Merola Opera Summer Program. Awarded a Career Development Grant from the Canada Council for the Arts and winner of the 2004 Bernard Diamant Prize, she spent most of 2005 in Vienna where she studied German operatic repertoire with renowned voice coach Margaret Singer. She has recently received the Virginia Parker Prize from the Canada Council for the Arts and the Women's Musical Club of Toronto Career Development Award.

Shannon Mercer began her operatic career as a member of the Canadian Opera Company (COC) Ensemble Studio Program. She has since gone on to perform major roles with the COC (Sesto in Sartorio's Giulio Cesare in Egitto, a Madrigalist in Henze's Venus and Adonis, Xenia in Boris Godunov, Oscar in Un ballo in maschera and Elvira in L'italiana in Algeri), l'Opéra du Québec, Opera Lyra Ottawa (Nanetta in Falstaff, Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia special school performance), Opera Ontario, Opera Atelier (Médée) and the Toronto Operetta Theatre. In July 2006 Shannon made her London debut under the auspices of the ROH Covent Garden in The Midnight Court with Toronto's Queen of Puddings Music Theatre.

Particularly praised for her performances of Baroque and contemporary music, Shannon Mercer maintains a challenging balance of opera, concert and recital appearances. Recent engagements have included her Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center debut in an all-Mozart recital featuring renowned American soprano Barbara Bonney with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, two performances at the Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival, a Christmas program with Thirteen Strings in Ottawa, a Bach Cantata Program with Ensemble Arion and Les Violons du Roy and J.S. Bach's B-minor Mass (BWV 232) with le Studio de musique ancienne de Montréal (SMAM). Shannon has also appeared in solo recital with Music Toronto for The Discovery Series and in a Schubertiade recital with the Aldeburgh Connection at the Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto.

Shannon Mercer's 2006-2007 season featured her return to the Canadian Opera Company as Despina in Mozart's Così fan tutte, the opening production of the new Four Seasons Centre in Toronto. Making her debuts in both Calgary and Vancouver in performances as the soprano soloist in George Frideric Handel's Messiah with the Vancouver Cantata Singers and the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, she also returned to Montreal for the Messiah with le Studio de musique ancienne de Montréal. In the New Year, she made her debut in France with the Opéra national de Montpellier, in the title role of Marin Marais's French Baroque opera Sémélé, which was also recorded on the Glossa label for release in late 2007.

Following her performances and recording in France, Shannon Mercer returned to Canada for a recital with harpsichordist Luc Beauséjour in Joliette, Québec featuring the works of French composer Mondonville from their recent release on the Analekta label in March 2007. In Toronto, she appeared in a Mozart recital at the Glenn Gould Studio with Russell Braun and Krisztina Szabó and in a programme devoted to Edward Elgar with the Aldeburgh Connection. A frequent collaborator of Maestro Bernard Labadie, she performed G.F. Handel's Israël en Égypte with Les Violons du Roy in Montréal and Québec City as well as J.S. Bach's St. John Passion (BWV 245) in March 2007 with the Ensemble Arion. This past summer, Shannon appeared in the world premiere of Eric Idle's new comic oratorio Not the Messiah with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra under Peter Oundjian both at Toronto's first Luminato Festival and at the Caramoor Festival. She also returned to Montréal for a special concert entitled "Gloria! Vivaldi and his angels" with the Caprice Orchestra and Choir, under Matthias Maute as well as a concert of works by Dietrich Buxtehude with the Organ Academy.

Shannon Mercer begins the 2007-2008 season in Washington D.C. with concerts at the National Welsh Heritage Festival before returning to Canada where she makes her debut as Pamina in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte with Opera Ontario and as Philine in a concert version of Ambroise Thomas's Mignon with Opera Lyra Ottawa. She performs J.S. Bach's Christmas Cantatas with Early Music Vancouver followed by G.F. Handel's Messiah with both the Grand Philharmonic Choir in Kitchener-Waterloo and the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. In the New Year Shannon appears as Asteria in G.F. Handel's Tamerlano at Toronto's Jane Mallett Theatre, in Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 8 with the Orchestre Symphonique de Québec under Yoav Talmi in Quebec City, in a concert of Purcell arias with Symphony Nova Scotia, and in Mozart's Requiem and Haydn's St. Cecelia's Mass with Tafelmusik in Toronto. In concert and recital, she will appear with the Ottawa Baroque Consort, Clavecin en concert Series, Aldeburgh Connection, and Toronto: Women's Musical Club.

In November 2004, Shannon Mercer released her first recording English Fancy with Montréal's Baroque Ensemble Masques on the Analekta label, garnering such praise as "Shannon Mercer sings this aria and the disc's other fare with chameleon-like gifts. Her soprano is bright and agile, and she uses vibrato and ornamentation vividly to extract telling nuances from words and music. Mercer brings equal expressive vibrancy to the amorous, hedonistic and sorrowful feelings in these delectable pieces." (Gramophone) and "Shannon Mercer is splendid icing on a very lovely and tasty cake…[Campion's songs were] elegantly and artfully delivered by soprano Shannon Mercer, whose clear and unaffected singing is a delight to the ear." (Music Web International). Her next recording, also for Analekta, featuring music by the French baroque composer Mondonville with acclaimed harpsichordist Luc Beauséjour, was released in March 2007 followed by Marin Marais's opera Sémélé on the Glossa label in late 2007. Shannon also starred in Alexina Louie's Gemini-nominated comic opera Burnt Toast, an 8-vignette series directed by Larry Weinstein that was presented at the Toronto and Calgary film festivals and broadcast nationally on CBC television and Bravo!.

Shannon Mercer now resides in Toronto.

"As the maid Despina, [Mercer] deliver[ed] a wickedly pert performance of Una donna a quindici anni." (Globe and Mail)
"Her soprano is bright and agile, and she uses vibrato and ornamentation vividly to extract telling nuances from words and music. Mercer brings equal expressive vibrancy to the amorous, hedonistic and sorrowful feelings in these delectable pieces." (Gramophone)
"The finest singing came from Shannon Mercer as Altisidore. Mercer's sparkling recitatives and effortless runs were a constant delight." (Opera Canada)
Her voice has been described as luminous, dazzling and shining and her acting witty, delightful, and feisty - Shannon Mercer is taking on the opera world as one of Canada's most promising young stars. Critically acclaimed by the international press for her musical artistry, she has been hailed as "one of Canada's most promising young sopranos" and a "Leader of Tomorrow (Maclean's)."

Source: Shanon Mercer Website (2007)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (April 2008)

Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works




Under her name


Arias from BWV 1, BWV 21, BWV 57BWV 58, BWV 80, BWV 84, BWV 89, BWV 171, BWV 187, BWV 248 [w/ Luc Beauséjour, organ]

Manique Huggett


BWV 245

Alexander Weimann


BWV 245

Links to other Sites

Shannon Mercer, soprano - HOME
Shannon Mercer, soprano (Gossage Artists Management)
Festival Vancouver: Shannon Mercer

The Canada Council for the Arts: Shannon Mercer, etc.
Canada Council Awards Young Soprano @
Shannon Mercer (CPO Live)

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