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    Duncan Stenhouse is a Canadian-British bass and composer. He is a newly appointed member of the Canadian Opera Company’s Ensemble Studio and a recent graduate of the Advanced Diploma in Opera at the Royal Academy of Music where he studied with Raymond Connell and Iain Ledingham. Originally born in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, Duncan has lived in many different places within the UK and Canada, spending most of his time between Calgary, St. John’s, London, and soon, Toronto.

    Duncan began his studies at Memorial School of Music and received a Bachelor of Music (Honours) in Voice Performance with a minor in Composition under the tutelage of Caroline Schiller, Eldon Murray, Andrew Staniland, and Clark Ross. He performed in a myriad of concerts, scenes shows, and operas at the school such as his performance as The Caterpillar in Will Todd’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Duncan also performed in the Halifax Summer Opera Festival during this time, as both Crespel in Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann and Sarastro in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, a role in which Daphna Levit from Opera Canada stated that “his voice is outstanding”, and that he “exhibited the stern regal posture befitting the role.”

    Duncan had multiple compositions debuted at Memorial University and, in his final year of study, he gave a concert of his works performed in collaboration with contemporary ballet dancers from Dance Studio East. In total, Duncan wrote over twenty pieces while at Memorial, including chamber works, choral pieces, and a collection of solo works for a multitude of instruments. Duncan’s ambitions as a composer include writing full scale operas, song cycles, and orchestral works. He enjoys working with a mixture of mediums in his pieces and thoroughly loves when music merges with other artistic fields such as painting, poetry, dance, drama, and cinematography. 

    After moving to London in 2020, Duncan commenced his studies in the Royal Academy of Music’s Master of Music program in Vocal Performance. He sang as Bottom in the school’s production of Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Spinelloccio and Notaio in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, and il Commendatore, John Claggart, Olin Blitch, and Count Walter in the school’s scenes shows. In 2022, Duncan continued his studies at the Academy in the Advanced Operatic Diploma program where he sang the roles of the Keeper of the Madhouse in Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress, Bartolo in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, Norton in Rossini’s La cambiale di matrimonio, and Superintendent Budd in Britten’s Albert Herring.

    Outside of the Academy, Duncan will sing the role of Colline in Puccini’s La bohème for Longborough Festival Opera and has previously sung Zaccaria in Uncovered Opera’s concert performance of Verdi’s Nabucco. He has sung as an Alvarez Young Artist with Garsington Opera, performing in the chorus and covering the roles of Waiter 3 and Boots in their award winning production of Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier and in the chorus of Dvorák’s Rusalka. Duncan has also sung in the chorus of Puccini’s La bohème and Tosca with Opera Holland Park and Mozart’s Don Giovanni with Hurn Court Opera, where he also covered the role of Il Commendatore.

    In competition, Duncan has won the Newfoundland Provincial Music Festival, the Sarah Harrison Prize at the Hurn Court Opera Singer of the Year Competition, and the Sybil Tutton Opera Award from Help Musicians. He placed 3rd at the 50th FCMF Canadian National Music Festival, was a finalist at the Emmy Destinn Young Singers Competition for Czech repertoire, and also placed 3rd at Canadian Opera Company’s 10th Centre Stage Competition, where it was said that he sang with “a rich sound and an easy presence” and that “his voice is a true bass, sturdy and warm in timbre, with the requisite gravitas to do justice to the piece.”

    In the 2024/25 season, Duncan will debut in Canadian Opera Company’s Ensemble Studio where he will sing the roles of The High Priest of Baal in Verdi’s Nabucco, First Apprentice in Berg’s Wozzeck, and Zaretsky in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin. He will also cover the roles of The Bonze in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, Assistant to Déscartes in Bilodeau & Bouchard’s La Reine-Garçon, Gremin in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, and will role study Méphistophélès in Gounod’s Faust.

    Academic research, writing, and teaching are also very important to Duncan. In 2019, he gave a lecture at Memorial University’s Newfound Music Festival on Scriabin’s use of harmony in relation to the composers synesthesia. The following year, Duncan created a lecture recital on Schubert’s Schwanengesang at the Royal Academy of music where he went on to complete his dissertation: Songs of the Great White North: Exploring Canada’s Peoples through Art Song in 2022. This research, along with his graduating recital Storytellin’, earned Duncan a distinction for his MMus degree and an honourary Diploma of the Royal Academy of Music. His dissertation research focuses on the history of both traditional and classical Canadian song, a special topic for Duncan as a performer, composer, and eighth generation Canadian. He gave a lecture on his research at the 20th Newfound Music Festival, where he also held multiple masterclasses and voice lessons for the vocal students at the university.

    Duncan is a passionate lover of language, studying linguistics for a year with Memorial University’s language department and teaching himself Russian lyric diction so that he could perform in the language. Duncan worked extensively with Lada Valešová at the Royal Academy of Music to enhance his proficiency with Russian phonetics. His knowledge of Russian IPA has allowed him to coach and phonetically transcribe for a number of young Canadian singers and conductors. He is now working hard at becoming equally proficient in Czech lyric diction and is loving every minute of this new linguistic challenge.

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