Flipside Opera gives emerging vocalists a chance to show off their chops.

Oh to be an Idol winner. Every singer who likes to belt Beyonce or Justin Bieber in the shower gets their shot every season on American Idol, Pop Idol, The Voice, Britain's Got Talent. But what about those queens and kings who prefer to wear black tie or a glittery ball gown and bellow Donizetti and Puccini?

Manitoba's own Flipside Opera Company has got them covered with their first time ever Opera Idol competition, hosted last Saturday at St. Andrews United Church in River Heights. Opera Idol was a fantastic experience to get excited about opera, and cheer and vote for your favourite diva/divo.
The event was an opportunity local emerging artists to showcase their talent, and apparently Manitoba is a mine-field for opera talent. The evening showcased twelve outstanding contestants, eleven sopranos and one outlying tenor.
Tis the Idol fashion, the competition also featured three guest judges: Canadian opera star Tracy Dahl, local stage director Rob Herriot, and (the bearer of comic relief) Winnipeg Free Press humour columnist Doug Speirs.
The judges, on the hunt for that IT factor, offered their opinions throughout the evening.
For Rob Herriot, the IT factor was "someone who can think outside the box, someone who asks themselves 'How else can I think about this aria and put my stamp on this role?' We're looking for something fresh and creative!" Tracy Dahl called it "ZAS! The personality plus the voice!"

Audience members were encouraged to vote for their favourite singer after the first round of performances. The final round featured a top six, after which audiences members voted again, and two runner-ups and a grand puba was crowned. The runner-up prizes were awarded to Jessica Kos-Whicher and Ana Toumine, and the grand prize, drum rolllll, went to the only tenor in the house, Aaron Hutton. He was awarded $400 and a role in the upcoming Flipside Opera's 2016/17 season.

Left to Right: Ana Toumine, Aaron Hutton, Jessica Kos-Whicher

"The goal is to create opera fans," says Dawn Bruch, who co-curated the event with fellow soprano Judy Oatway.
"We wanted to create an event that educates people about opera and shows them how cool it can be. The art-form is unknown to a lot of people, and we want to highlight the storytelling aspect that is so integrated into drama and singing. An event like this gives audiences a chance to take in a bite-sized snippet of opera."
The event was an opportunity for some of Winnipeg's most exciting emerging artists to showcase their talent.
"We also wanted to provide a venue where the singers can take risks in front of an audience. Most of the time, singers are performing in front of these intimidating panels, where they don't get any feedback or applause - audition season is pretty rough!"

Bruch and Oatway, along with a number of hard-working volunteers, went above and beyond in order to create the successful debut event, which doubled as a fundraiser for Flipside Opera.
Both accomplished sopranos, Bruch and Oatway are ambassadors of Flipside Opera, a nonprofit, alternative opera company.
"The company began as an effort to showcase Manitoba talent performing exclusively Canadian works," says Bruch. "It also aims to make performances more accessible by bringing them to smaller venues."

Flipside Opera's next show, Bathtubs, Bus Stops, and Bridge, is scheduled to be performed in the U of W's Eckhardt-Gramatte Hall at the end of April 2016.