Corona Serenades: Q & A with Jonelle Sills, Soprano (Canada)

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Meet Jonelle Sills, soprano (Canada), new singer for Corona Serenades

How has Covid-19 affected you? 

During these times of physical distancing I have been privileged to be surrounded by family. Covid-19, has allowed me to slow down, take care of myself and  gain new perspectives in every area of my life. Most singing opportunities have been postponed or cancelled to ensure the spread of the Covid-19 slows down. While new opportunities have come to life, such as this. I have also been able to  participate in live outdoor performances with Jamii Esplanade and Canadian Stage. Jamii (Swahili for ‘community’) is an arts organization with the desire to build community in the Esplanade area. At the end of June and through July they presented  ‘The Stories the Wind Carries’, an exhibition of multi-layered portraits of members in the Esplanade community. Myself Jeremiah Sparks (composer and actor) and Sue Croweagle (Indigenous singer and drummer) composed two songs two days before the performance based off of two seperate portraits. I never thought I had the ability to create a new work, and am grateful to have had the opportunity to learn and share something new with our audiences.

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What are your 5 favorite operas

La Bohème – Puccini
Il Trovatore – Verdi
Carmen – Bizet
Rusalka – Dvorak
La Traviata – Verdi

What are your dream roles?

Anything by Puccini or Verdi!

What movies, books, TV shows would you recommend?

Somebody Feed Phil, The Office, Street Food Asia.

Why have you signed on to work with the Corona Serenades project? 

I signed up to work on the Corona Serenades project because I love how music has the ability to bring people together. Now that we cannot currently be physically together for me it is important to keep using my voice to do just that. This project is a beautifully intimate way to encourage and bring people “together” when we need to stay physically distant for our safety.


Canadian Soprano Jonelle Sills has been praised for her “… warm, full, elastic tone” (Schmopera, Greg Finney). Ms. Sills has recently been named as one of CBC Music’s classical “30 under 30” performers for 2020. Looking to the new year Jonelle will join the Yulanda M. Faris Young Artists Program with Vancouver Opera.

In the fall of 2019, Ms. Sills made her role debut as Mimì in Puccini’s La Bohème on tour with Against The Grain Theatre. Directly following, Jonelle sang PriaSoprano in A Million Billion Pieces by David James Brock, with music by Gareth Williams and directed by Philip Akin with Toronto’s Young People’s Theatre. Miss Sills is a 2019 Dora award winner for “Outstanding performance of an Ensemble” in Vivier’s Kopernikus with Against the Grain Theatre.

Recent highlights include her symphonic debut with the Mississauga Symphony Orchestra singing Mahler’s 2nd Symphony. This past summer Jonelle was a Resident Artist with Against the Grain Theatre at the Banff Centre’s “Opera in the 21st Century” program. During her residence at Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity she premiered the role of Esther in composer Paola Prestini and librettist Royce Vavreck’s Silent Light directed and designed by Thaddeus Strassberger.

Past highlights include the roles of Rosalinde in J. Strauss’ Die Fledermaus with The Glenn Gould School, Musetta in La Boheme in the Muskoka Opera Festival, Micaëla in Carmen with Summer Opera Lyric Theatre, Cecchina in La Cecchina with The Glenn Gould School (GGS), and also the title role in Cendrillon with GGS. Other performance acclamations include: Female Chorus in The Rape of Lucretia with MYOpera where “she handles the huge vocal range expertly and takes us on a beautiful dramatic arc throughout the show.” (Schompera, Greg Finney).

Currently based in Toronto Ms. Sills completed her studies in the Artist Diploma Program (ADP) at The Glenn Gould School at The Royal Conservatory of Music in 2018 under the mentorship of Stephanie Bogle and Rachel Andrist and currently, studying with Frédérique Vézina. Jonelle has also performed in master classes and coachings with notable artists such as Gerald Finley, Liz Upchurch, Adrianne Pieczonka, Tim Noble, Martin Katz, Catherine Robbin, Dawn Upshaw and Joan Dornemann


Chi il bel sogno – Puccini

Si mi chiamano Mimi – Puccini

Csardas – J. Strauss

Summertime – Gershwin

Widmung – Schumann

Over my head – Spiritual




This page is also available in / Cette page est également disponible en: Francais (French)


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