Canadian mezzo-soprano Evanna Lai has enjoyed a vibrant musical career that has brought her to operatic and concert stages, both local and international. She has a special interest in contemporary and early music, participating in a variety of workshops and premières, from Robert Kyr’s Transfiguration to Tawnie Olson’s Sanctuary and Storm to Tapestry Opera’s production of Chan Ka Nin’s Dragon’s Tale this season. She has often collaborated with the early music ensemble Elm City Consort, participating in the première performance of La Lira Muta, a pastiche opera.
Ms. Lai began her operatic career as the Abbess in Suor Angelica with the University of British Columbia Opera Ensemble, with which she has since performed numerous other roles such as Prince Charming (Cendrillon), Nancy (Albert Herring), Elizabeth Proctor (The Crucible), and Dorabella (Così fan tutte). While pursuing her master of music and artist diploma at Yale Opera, she sang Angelina (La Cenerentola), Cherubino (Le Nozze di Figaro), Nora (Riders to the Sea), and Hermia (A Midsummer Night’s Dream). She has been a soloist in Dvořák’s Stabat Mater, Mozart’s Great Mass in C Minor, Vaughan William’s Serenade to Music (UBC Symphony Orchestra), Handel’s Messiah (Vancouver Bach Choir), and Bach’s Magnificat (Vancouver Oratorio Society). She made her Carnegie Hall debut in 2015, performing Sibelius and Mahler songs, and returned the following year to perform De Falla’s Siete canciones populares españolas.
Ms. Lai is the recipient of a Canada Council for the Arts grant in 2018. She was a finalist in the 2017 George London Foundation Awards Competition and the recipient of a Sylva Gelber Music Foundation grant and a BC Arts Council scholarship. She is a thrice-named fellow at the Toronto Summer Music Academy, specializing in art song, and a protégée of the Chamber Music Northwest Festival, where she sang with such artists as Paul Neubauer, Tara Helen O’Connor, and David Shifrin. She is a two-time recipient of both the Johann Strauss Foundation Scholarship and the Vancouver Women’s Musical Society Bursary. In 2015, she was a semi-finalist at the Belvedere International Singing Competition, as well as a finalist at the Metropolitan Opera National Council district auditions.
Ms. Lai apprenticed at Santa Fe Opera, covering the role of Stéphano in Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette. She has sung with both Opera Theater of Connecticut and Opera Connecticut in various concerts and productions, to critical acclaim, and made her professional European and radio debut at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw as Nancy T’ang in Nixon in China with the Dutch Youth Orchestra.
Currently, she resides in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, where she is pursuing a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree and aims to become a board-certified avian veterinarian. In her limited spare time, she enjoys painting watercolours (especially birds) and making sushi.