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Sunday, June 4, 2017

The year that everything changed...

The title speaks for itself, I believe.

This year has been an interesting year full of changes for the better. They weren't all easy changes, but the were worth it. For example, I am now a vegan- which I thought would be really hard, and actually was one of the best things I have done for myself. (6 months now!) I also did that "konmari" method when you get rid of all of the unnecessary items your life. It was a long process but I feel so much more comfortable in my surroundings and know where everything is! 

This post is all about those tough changes that end up being for the best. This year has been a big struggle as it has been one of those "slow years" as we call it in the business. As a Canadian opera singer (and specifically a coloratura soprano), you can be lucky some seasons with repertoire and gigs, and other years you can be fighting each month to make rent. This year was one of those "testing years" where you aren't sure what will happen, but you just trust. 

This year I decided to change the way I look at the business and art. I started trying to "make a difference" with art. My concert/group "We Are Women" has really helped me in many ways to remind me why I do this job. It has been hard work and many hours, but we are able to make a difference in a concrete way, while bringing awareness to women's issues as well as empowering women through song. We took some of our most personal life situations and have integrated them into a script and have tied them into a cabaret style program. We speak about sexual harassment, body image, abusive relationships, competitiveness, etc. but we find a fun and positive spin through the songs and anecdotes. We are donating a portion of the proceeds to local women's charities which makes it all feel more concrete.

This is different for us than doing "fundraising concert" as it is on our own terms and we are self-producing this show. We have no funding (even though that would be nice!) and we hoping that it will all workout. It definitely has been a risk! We have had some really positive feedback and it has refreshed my idea of the business and has taught me a lot of new skills! I am so grateful. I find it also has had a great effect on my opera singing. 

When you have a purpose, things change. So, I encourage you to go out there and find your "thing." Whether it be saving the animals and environment by being a vegan, giving back to your community, learning a new language, cleaning your house or taking an extra yoga class to find your grounding. I encourage you to try new things and look at your surroundings in a new light. Only by pushing your boundaries will you grow!

Happy soul searching! 

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Saturday, January 28, 2017

It is all in your attitude!

Good evening!

Now that the dust has settled, I am back to my blog.

First off, I want to express my deepest gratitude for the heartwarming response I received from my last post. I went back and forth trying to decide if I should post it or not, and I realize now that it was for the best. I was voicing some my deepest thoughts and it turns out I wasn't alone. Solidarity is important these days, and it was nice to feel connected to others.

On the flip side, I realize that some might have seen that post as me whining about the business, but I wanted to portray my insight on the business that I have experienced. The older I get the more I realize that honouring my feelings and being myself helps me to become a better artist. The following quote also really inspired me to take the negative and turn it into positive:

"Take your broken heart and turn it into art."
-Carrie Fisher

Since writing that post I have had more motivation, inspiration and energy to give it my all. I think there are many different factors that play into this, but I am embracing the new me. Right now I truly feel art can really make a difference and I want to do all I can to help!

So far January has been a great month of discovery. I have found new things in my voice and have been working on myself a lot. Today marks two months of being vegan (which has been so much fun- as I am cooking more and exploring new tastes etc.) I find it has given me a new look on life and much more energy to pursue my goals. Another one of my resolutions was to "disconnect more" (aka social media/phones etc.) which would also mean connecting with others and my atmosphere. So far, I think I could work a little harder at that, but I still have the rest of the year to catch up!

In conclusion, I would encourage anyone reading this to try and turn all negative thoughts or experiences into positive ones. We can dwell on the past, but what does that do? Nothing. Albert Einstein said: "Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character." 

On that positive note, I must disconnect now! Happy 2017!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Where is the love?

Dear blog world,

Where is the love? 

I have been singing my entire life. I have always loved it. I loved making wonderful harmonies in my choirs growing up, I loved how singing made me feel. Where did that go? I can tell you. The music "industry" killed it. I let it. 

I have an undergraduate degree in Voice Performance from Memorial University of Newfoundland. My teachers there instilled a love for the vocal repertoire that was unparalleled. I was inspired and excited to continue. The same can be said for the Operatic repertoire as I did a Masters Degree in Opera Performance at University of British Columbia. I was so excited to get to combine dance, drama and singing just as I had before with musical theatre but it was heightened. I was on top of the world as I discovered opera and fell madly in love with it. I went on to work at the Atelier Lyrique de l'Opéra de Montréal where I got a really taste of what the operatic career might entail and I was still blindly unaware of my future of rejections, rollercoasters and upsets. 

Once I was finally on my own in the "real world" I found out I was very wrong about what I thought the career would be like. I thought I would be making alright or good money and that I would be busy at least every month with a project. Wrong. Wrong. WRONG! I got insecure. I wanted to know what I could do to get out of this mess. I let every Joe, Sally and John have a say as to how I sounded and what I needed to do. I didn't trust myself and my instincts. I didn't trust my own gut feelings. I thought everyone knew better than me. Guess what? They don't! 

I also let my voice be my value. Big shock: this is not true nor helpful. Can you imagine if you thought your car defined you? How it worked etc? Okay, maybe some people do in a consumerist way, but that shouldn't define you. I have been there for years and I can tell you it doesn't make you sing better. 

Recently a wonderful singer I know posted about a bad review of himself on Facebook. He commented on how we always try and make everything seem to be wonderful all the time and we don't mention the heartache and loneliness of the music "industry." Somedays it is the most wonderful thing you could ever imagine doing and then the next day it can feel like you are digging the biggest hole and you have no idea how to get out of it. The reason why?

Everyone is critical. Even people who don't know what it is like to sing a note in their life somehow know better than we do. For example: A few years ago I sang an audition in New York City in front of a large panel of people. I paid to sing for them, paid to get there, and paid a pianist for this audition in hopes of getting a job but at the very least, some feedback. To that I say: Dear Jurer X, your two painful words "Ugly Voice" have haunted me for years. It almost was if you were calling my soul, my very being; ugly. I really hope you weren't a singer because you must know how much it hurts to hear such cruel words. Deep down I hope you were just having a bad day, were hungry or maybe english wasn't your first language. Criticism is fine as long as it is productive or you give a way to fix this problem. Unfortunately I can't really do much with those two words. I know I shouldn't have listened but you taught me a very important lesson that day. You have to care for yourself first. You need to feed your artistic soul. You need to trust what you love and believe in. That day and for a very long time afterwards I searched for people to "love" me/my voice again. Guess what? That doesn't work.

I recently did an audition where I felt frozen. I felt stuck because I had a history at this particular place. I want to be loved, I want to be accepted, but why couldn't I let go? To be fair to myself, auditions SUCK. There is no audience, no set, no costumes and people sitting there on their phones, writing, talking or on their computers. It is distracting. We pay so much money to go to these auditions and then sometimes get ignored. This was not the case in this scenario, but we live and learn. What can we do other than let go and try to do our best for the next time? Why do I taunt myself with what I could have done differently at that measure or how I could have breathed better at this measure. We torture ourselves after, or at least I do. 

All that to be said, I have recently started singing some musical theatre again. Guess what, it has saved me. Before when I listened to my demos I could only hear the flaws. I recently did one for a concert proposal and I love what I hear. I don't know if what I am doing is "right," but I don't care. I am happy. At the end of the day, that is all that matters. What I am getting at here is; trust yourself. Trust your feelings. If it is not feeling right, abort mission! I am not saying quit, but find another way to do it. Whether that be another venue or another art form, go for it! I, by no means have lost the love of opera, but I can tell you finding back the love of musical theatre has helped me love my voice and opera even more.

To conclude for all of those singers and non-singers out there: FIND THE LOVE in whatever form you can and try to bring it to every aspect of your life.  Sometimes that means not caring as much and trusting your feelings. Everything in life is a process, and I wish you the most pleasant and happy journey.

If you are looking for me, I will be sitting in front of my piano jamming to some show tunes. 

xox Suzanne

Friday, April 15, 2016

Tytania, Queen of the Fairies

Good evening!

It is opening night and I am thrilled! We had a wonderful and receptive audience tonight and it felt great! To the right is a fantastic photo of Tytania and her Fairies by David Cooper.

We had a lovely time. Check out our trailer:

We have three more shows: April 16, 22, 24.

Oh and my CBC recital will air on April 17th! Stay posted for the time. Thanks for reading! It has been a fantastic month for my blog so, stay tuned!

All my best from the West!!


Saturday, April 2, 2016

Combining the love of singing/classical music and running

Greetings from Victoria, BC Canada!

I am currently out here rehearsing for Midsummer Nights Dream with Pacific Opera Victoria. I am singing the role of Tytania and am having a blast. What some people don't know, is that I am also out here doing some different kind of training as well! I am training for my third Half Marathon!
CIBC Run for a cure in Nov. 2015

So to give you a bit of an update: I just signed up and am raising funds for Symphony Nova Scotia at the Bluenose Half Marathon (21.1km) in Halifax, NS on May 22nd, 2016. 

Every dollar I raise goes to helping their Community Outreach and Educational Outreach programs. This is something I hold near and dear to my heart because my mother and retired music teacher was very involved in while she was teaching. The kids had so many wonderful opportunities to interact with the symphony as well as it helps them get out into the community and perform for new audiences. This is how we can better our community and reach more people. 

Please consider donating to my campaign. I receive nothing out of it, except knowing that I was able to give back in some small way to a community and cause that I love. 

Here is my fundraising page: Soprano For the Symphony

I will keep my Facebook page: Suzanne Rigden Coloratura Soprano updated for people to follow my training and my fundraising. My goal is 500$, but I hope to surpass that if at all possible. Any amount helps! 5$, 10$ or perhaps 21$ to pay a dollar a kilometre! 

Thank you for all of your support thus far of my career and my travel endeavours! Stay tuned for more fun news! 

Happy Trails!
Second Half Marathon in Oka,QC

Friday, March 18, 2016

Noncerto Videos, Blondchen, West Coast and Germany, Oh MY!

Dear Blog world,

It is that time again. Blog update! I am finally feeling "on top of things" and am enjoying a few lovely days at home with my super supportive boyfriend, Christophe! One of the most important things about this career is having a wonderful support group by your side. My parents and family are incredibly supportive and have always encouraged me to pursue my dreams and now I am lucky enough to have found a partner who is equally encouraging and is very patient with my crazy schedule. For example: I have been gone since December 28th and have been home in Montreal for a little more than a week with him in total. We are long distance pro's at this point and our worst day is when we have a bad wifi connection or that our schedules don't line up. Christophe if you read this: Thank you for all that you do!

Alright, enough with the mushy stuff. It has been a busy time with so many things happening. Lets go in chronological order, shall we?

On January 16th I was fortunate enough to sing Blondchen with the Ann Arbor Symphony in Michigan. Well, this town was so adorable, the company was incredible to work for and I feel I have made friends for life now. One of the huge bonuses of this career is having met a lot of wonderful people. I love that I get to reconnect with old colleagues and make new colleague/friends. There was incredible singing and performing happening and we were able to have a semi-staged production within two days. That requires a lot of trust and team work, and that is one of my favourite parts! I grew up playing on team sports and in choirs etc, and one of the most amazing bonds you can have in this world is trust. So, all in all, that was a fantastic experience.

After this trip I hopped home and back between the states for a few auditions and then jumped the pond to try out the European houses. I again got to meet up with some wonderful friends and the weather was much nicer so I started training for my next half marathon! I will be doing the blue nose half marathon on May 22nd in Halifax. For me, I have to have goals or else I get a little aimless when it comes to training, so this is exciting.

Okay, back to the story: I spent five days in Amsterdam (what a cool city) and I did an audition and a workshop there, then I missed my train by literally a minute and caught the next one to Augsburg Germany. I bopped in and out of France, Germany and Italy for a few weeks doing auditions. My favourite being on the Regio di Torino stage. That was INCREDIBLE. What a theatre. It felt like you didn't have to do anything to create a sound there. Here's to hoping I get to go back. Anyway, then I made my way up to Berlin for the final two weeks. I enjoyed being there- again catching up with old friends, seeing beautiful opera, taking a german intensive language course, running, eating fantastic vegetarian and vegan food and Christophe came for the final week. It was truly a dream come true. He and I really fell in love with the city, so if by writing it down for the world to see here on my blog will help at all: Dear Universe- we would really like a chance to live there and work there at some point. There, the wish has been sent!

Next on the list- Noncerto Videos! There is a very cool tv channel that produces classical music videos in and around montreal but now they have outreached into the rest of Canada. Below I have posted my most recent videos that were just released and then just last week I was lucky enough to go out to the Monashee Mountains to film up at Mustang Powder; one of the coolest places I have even been to! (The picture above this post is my view from the hot tub!) I can't wait to see the next videos we will post about that. Please check out the following ones and share them. They are out here for all to see!!video/lctc1

If you ever have any questions please feel free to contact me via my website at

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Pirates of Penzance Photo and Reviews

Good evening!

I hope this blog post finds you well. I am personally enjoying a quiet evening after a fun day. Today I performed my 12th show of Pirates of Penzance by Gilbert and Sullivan with Drayton Entertainment at the St Jacobs County Playhouse. 

I have to say it has been a long time for me to play in a musical, but also in G&S! I had my first big exposure to operetta at the age of 17 when I played Rose Maybud in Ruddigore with the G&S Society of Nova Scotia. It has been a treat to come back with it, but also to play it with a predominately Musical Theatre company. I have to say, I love it! I have learned so much in such a short period of time, and I am now motivated to work up some musical theatre repertoire and to take more dance classes. (I love to dance, so, bonus!)

There have been some pretty positive reviews so far that I would like to share:

"Suzanne Rigden, an opera singer making her Drayton debut, has a high, clear agile voice that clearly has no need of amplification.  Besides bringing off Mabel’s highly-ornamented songs perfectly, Rigden also proves herself a fine comic actor."

Christopher Hoile from Stage Door

"Everyone is exceptionally good with considerable vocal skills yet there is a standout here: Suzanne Rigden as Mabel in her Drayton debut.
While other cast members have musical theatre voices, Rigden is pure opera. She has beautiful, crystal-clear vocals, which led her to be named one of CBC's Hot 30 Under 30 Classical Musicians."
Valerie Hill from Waterloo Region Record
"Soprano Suzanne Rigden excels as Mabel.  Her rich operatic voice fills the theatre."
- Mary Alderson from Entertain this thought

Here are some production photos! 

Photo 1: Post "Poor Wand'ring One"
Photo 2: Post Second act duet
Photo 3: Finale of Act 2: Reprise of "Poor Wand'ring one"

Good evening folks! Come out and see Pirates if you are in the Waterloo area.