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 works, participating in a variety of workshops and premières, from Robert Kyr’s Transfiguration with the Yale Camerata, to Tawnie Olson’s Sanctuary and Storm, and Tapestry Opera’s production of Chan Ka Nin’s Dragon’s Tale this season, among others. She has often collaborated with early music ensemble Elm City Consort, beginning with the première performance of La Lira Muta, a pastiche opera, 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. She returned to Opera Connecticut as Suzuki in Madama Butterfly, singing the role to critical acclaim.
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). With Yale Opera, she has sung 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 under the auspices of Yale University, 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 is 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 holds a bachelor of music from the University of British Columbia, and a master of music and artist diploma from the Yale School of Music.
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 of birds) and making sushi.