Marion Newman made her Pacific Opera Victoria debut in 2003 as Margret in Alban Berg’s Wozzeck. She returned as the goddess Juno in the Canadian première of Lee Hoiby’s The Tempest and as Tisbe in Rossini’s Cinderella. She created the role of Dr. Wilson in the 2017 world première production of Missing by Marie Clements and Brian Current, a co-commission and co-production with Pacific Opera and City Opera Vancouver. In 2019 Marion returns to Pacific Opera as the Abbess in Puccini’s Suor Angelica. She will then reprise the role of Dr. Wilson for performances of Missing in Victoria, Regina, and Prince George.
Kwagiulth and Stó:lo First Nations, English, Irish and Scottish, Marion is firmly established as one of Canada’s most accomplished singers. Her operatic roles include Carmen and Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia, and the title role in Toronto Masque Theatre’s The Lesson of Da Ji. She has performed with Canada’s premier chamber groups, orchestras and contemporary ensembles and choral groups in repertoire ranging from Vivaldi to Vivier.
Recent appearances include world premières of several works, operas and concerts that speak to Marion’s First Nations identity. Marion is much sought-after as an advisor for arts organizations wishing to take an active and continuing role in reconciliation.
In the 2018/19 season she starred as Tsianina Redfeather in I Call Myself Princess, a new musical play by Jani Lauzon; performed Messiah with Symphony Nova Scotia; debuted with Edmonton Opera as the Mother in Hansel and Gretel; performed Anna Hostmann’s Singing the Earth with the Victoria Symphony; and led the cast in the title role of Dean Burry/Yvette Nolan’s Shanawdithit with Tapestry Opera/Opera on the Avalon.
In addition to Missing, Marion has performed in world premières of several other operas/chamber works that speak to her First Nations identity, including Bramwell Tovey’s song cycle Ancestral Voices with Vancouver Symphony, touring to Winnipeg, Toronto and Ottawa; Jennifer Butler’s Klee Wyck Woman with Emily Carr String Quartet at ISCM World New Music Days in Vancouver; as well as solo performances with Regina Symphony’s Forward Currents Festival.
Her discography includes The Lesson of Da Ji, with Marion in the title role. Released in 2016, this disc won Critics Choice in Opera News. Other recordings include five discs with the Aradia Ensemble for Naxos: Polly by Samuel Arnold; Sacred Music by Vivaldi; Griselda, also by Vivaldi; Handel’s Rinaldo; and Charpentier’s Messe de Minuit pour Noel and Te Deum. As well, she recorded Sea Change – featured in the contemporary work Brush Strokes by Linda C. Smith – with Continuum Contemporary Music and Handel’s Dixit Dominus and Bach’s Cantata No. 4 with the CapriCCio Ensemble, for Virga Recordings.
On the concert stage Marion has performed with the National Ballet of Canada, Portland Baroque Orchestra, CapriCCio Vocal Ensemble, The Elmer Iseler Singers, San Francisco Conservatory Orchestra, Kingston Symphony, Symphony Nova Scotia, Elora Festival Singers and the St Lawrence Choir. Her extensive repertoire includes De Falla’s El Amor Brujo, Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle, Mozart’s Coronation Mass, Beethoven Ninth Symphony, Copland’s In The Beginning and Bach’s St. John Passion, Magnificat, and Cantata no. 4.
Marion made her orchestral debut at the age of sixteen with the Victoria Symphony, not as a singer, but as a pianist, performing Mozart’s Piano Concerto K. 488 in A Major. She holds a Bachelor of Music in piano performance from the University of Victoria and a Master of Music with Distinction in vocal performance from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
Marion Newman invests her character with towering dignity and courage, her voice ascending on waves of pain, returning earthwards with flawless passaggio wrapping us in her humanity. Singing a last aria, Burry’s exquisitely heartrending ‘I will soon walk out of this world’, Shanawdithit prepares to exit her tortured life, Newman conveying her soul to a place of infinite serenity and quietude. An unforgettable performance of boundless passion and grace.
Ian Ritchie, Opera to Go, review of Shanawdithit, Tapestry Opera/Opera On The Avalon, 2019
… Dr. Wilson, played with dignity and power by mezzo-soprano Marion Newman, whose discussion of entrenched racism highlights the inherent injustice of Canada’s legal system.
Roberta Staley, The Whole Note, review of Missing, Pacific Opera Victoria and City Opera Vancouver, 2017