Monica Whicher | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Monica Whicher

Whicher studied in Toronto with Lois Marshall, and later in the University of Toronto's Opera Division during the late 1980s. In 1988 she was the recipient of a scholarship from ARIAS, the Canadian Opera Student Development Fund.

Monica Whicher

 Monica Whicher, soprano, born Sault Ste. Marie, 20 Sept, 1963. Monica Whicher was born into a musical family; her parents studied voice at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto during the 1950s. Her father, James Whicher, studied with George Lambert, and sang in the chorus of the Canadian Opera Company (COC). Monica Whicher began her musical studies on the piano at the age of six, but after hearing her mother's performance of Haydn's Nelson Mass, turned her musical interests decidedly to singing.

Education and Opera Work

Whicher studied in Toronto with Lois Marshall, and later in the University of Toronto's Opera Division during the late 1980s. In 1988 she was the recipient of a scholarship from ARIAS, the Canadian Opera Student Development Fund. Scholarships from the Canadian Aldeburgh Foundation allowed her to pursue further studies in England at the Britten-Pears School for Advanced Musical Studies in 1989, 1990 and 1991. Later, while in the COC Ensemble Studio (1991-93), she received the prestigious George London Prize in addition to a role preparation grant from the Sullivan Foundation and a career development grant from the Canada Council.

In 1993 Whicher became a freelance artist. In 1994 she performed the part of Elisa in the COC's production of Mozart's rarely performed opera Il Re Pastore, her first major role. Her connection with Opera Atelier began in 1999 when she sang in a production of Rameau's Pygmalion. Whicher also sang the role of the Countess in Marriage of Figaro (2003), Dido in Purcell's Dido and Aeneas during Opera Atelier's Korean tour (2005), and Mérope in Lully's Persée (2004).The Globe and Mail reported; "Soprano Monica Whicher was superb as Mérope, whose hopeless love for Persée makes her the emotional center of the piece. She sang with lustrous tone and true poignancy that humanized the entire opera." In the 2010-2011 season, Whicher played the role of Aprano in the North American premiere of Vivaldi's Montezuma with Houston's Mercury Baroque.

Recitals and Festival Performances

As evidence of her versatility, Whicher has been actively involved as a recitalist and soloist throughout North America and Europe. Her first professional recital was with the Aldeburgh Connection in their 1989 Spring Schubertiad while she was a student. Other Aldeburgh recitals include performances of Wolf's Italienisches Liederbuch with Russell Braun and premieres of works by Canadian composers like John Beckwith. She has also appeared with such diverse ensembles as the Thirteen Strings in Ottawa, the Art of Time Ensemble, the Talisker Players, and the Toronto, Vancouver, Utah, Hartford, Minnesota, and Barcelona symphonies.

A frequent guest at festivals throughout the world, Whicher has sung at the Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival, Festival International de Lanaudière, the Michoacán Festival of Music and Culture in Mexico, and the Lamèque International Festival of Baroque Music.

Career Highlights and Awards

Highlights of Whicher's career include a performance of Mozart's Mass in C Minor and Exultate, Jubilate in Bilbaoa, Spain with Helmuth Rilling; Bach's Mass in B Minor with the Vancouver Bach Choir; and a performance of Bach's Christmas Oratorio with the National Arts Centre Orchestra. Whicher was a founding member of the Toronto Bach Consort in 1992 along with bassist Tim Dawson and baritone Gordon MacLeod. Proceeds from concerts and recordings are donated to charity.

Whicher was nominated for a Juno Award in 2002 for her CD Singing Somers Theatre. She was also nominated for a Dora Mavor Moore Award in 2004 for Outstanding Performance in Opera Atelier's production of The Marriage of Figaro, and in 2005 for Opera Atelier's Dido and Aeneas.

In 2007 Whicher joined the voice faculty at the Glenn Gould School and later, the University of Toronto (2008).


Lully. Persée. Monica Whicher, Stephanie Novacek, sopranos; Olivier Laquerre, bass-baritone; Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, Hervé Niquet, conductor. 2005. EuroArts. 2054178


For a complete list of recordings, please visit the Dean Artists website linked in the Links to Other Sites below.


Everett-Green. "Music Review - Opera Students hit comedic high notes," Globe and Mail, 6 Mar 1989

Mose, Peter. "Fine singers tackle British Canadiana," Toronto Star, 14 May 1990

Johnson, Phil. "A month-long celebration of the classics," Toronto Star, 27 Jun 1991

Johnston, Colleen. "Concert captures essence of Mozart," Waterloo Region Record, 10 Aug 1991

Kritzwiser, Kay. "Monica Whicher: Rising star," Canadian Opera Committee Annual, 1993

Crew, Robert. "Bright Light: Soprano Monica Whicher," Toronto Star, 6 Nov 1994

Crew, Robert. "Marriage made in musical heaven," Toronto Star, 1 May 2003

"Artists on stage at the 2005 Opera Canada awards," Opera Canada, Jan-Feb 2006