"A voice to fill Four Rooms"
Gilbert A. Bouchard, Special to the Journal, Edmonton
June 11, 2006

Guilder's debut CD an eclectic mix of operatic arias, pop songs and mom's fave
"Opera Singer Alicia Guilder's inagural CD boasts an impressive range of material and a quirky musical sense of humour.

Not surprising given her training as an opera singer at the University of Lethbridge and her work with Edmonton Opera as an ensemble performer. The emerging artist's self-titled CD classic is chock-a-block with well-known and beautifully executed opera arias from the likes of Mozart and Puccini as well as more contemporary opera-style numbers like Gershwin's Summertime.

The sense of humour and quirkiness comes into the picture when you consider the addition of decidedly unopera-friendly numbers like Lennon & McCartney's surreal Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds and a jaunty Sicilian folk number called Mamma.

"It's a popular café folk song that I sang accompanied by an accordion because it's a favourite song of my mother's back when she was little in Sicily," says the 26-year-old singer who has a general soft spot for cabaret-style material.

Case in point, Guilder is launching her album with an intimate recital at downtown's Four Rooms Restaurant and Lounge (137 Edmonton City Centre East) tonight at 7:30. Tickets are $15. The event will see Guilder singing alongside the Obsession String Quartet, a group composed of Edmonton Symphony orchestra members who also performed on the Colin-Lay-produced CD.

Q: When did you begin singing?
I started singing around the house when I was about four years old, and started taking private lessons when I was about six. That's also when I started singing in public, as well as when I started attending music festivals.

Q: When did you discover opera?
I was 16 when I started singing opera. My music teacher at the time, Karen Rees, was an opera singer herself and she put Deh vieni, non tardar (a Mozart aria from The Marriage of Figaro that Guilder also sings on her CD) in front of me. She figured I'd be a natural.

That was the first opera aria I ever tried, and realizing I could sing it really inspired me to think about pursuing a singing career.

I wasn't singing pop songs—even though I love singing pop and have a few pop songs on the album—mainly because music teachers don't like pop songs. I sang a lot of art songs, children's works and folk songs, songs that a younger voice can do.

Q: What is it about opera as a musical form that appeals to you?
There's an expressiveness and power to your voice that you get singing opera that you don't get singing anything else. Also, the sound that you produce singing opera is not a sound that a lot of people can do, which makes it a real challenge and an achievement. Opera singing is all from your diaphragm and is all about the breathing. It's this great mix of technical skill and art.

Q: How did you end of choosing the mix of songs on the CD?
These are all songs that I've loved, studied at university or have a great personal connection with, and work that I know would represent my voice well and could express what I can do the best. I also wanted to be able to introduce as broad an audience as possible to my opera singing, which means I sang the pop songs like Lucy in the Sky and a Shirley Bassey song for the older crowd.

I idolize singers who can mix genres like Sara Brightman. Like her, I like being able to say: "I'm an opera singer, but that's not all I can do."

Q:Who's your favourite opera composer?
Definitely Puccini. He's written these wonderfully florid pieces and all these famous arias that really draw you in. His work is also really fun and flirty to perform.
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