Calgary’s Elaine Jean Brown triumphs in the opera-singing competition
Bathroom Divas: So You Want To Be An Opera Star?
After a cross-country search for the next opera star, soprano Elaine Jean Brown was revealed as the winner in the season finale of Bathroom Divas: So You Want To Be An Opera Star?, which aired on Bravo! Saturday, March 17. Elaine was one of three remaining finalists that included Paul Abelha, a construction worker from Hamilton, Ontario, and Phillip Holmes, a student from Norway Bay, Québec. Elaine, the oldest finalist, was awarded the ultimate prize – a debut performance at the Orpheum Theatre with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra led by conductor Bramwell Tovey in front of an audience of thousands.
“We saw in Elaine someone who had put her own desires and needs on hold for her family,” says soprano professor/comedienne Mary Lou Fallis, who served as judge, coach and producer of the series. “Always casting herself in the ‘mother’ role, even during boot camp, Elaine finally broke through her barriers and, in performance, fully exposed herself emotionally, surprising the judges and even herself. By the end of the competition, she proved to us that she had the ‘chops’ musically and had it in her to be a ‘Diva.'”
Born in St. John’s, Newfoundland and now residing in Calgary, Alberta, the youthful 59-year-old grandmother – who is the mother of fellow Bathroom Divas finalist, Robyn (Hefferton) Hauck – proved that it is never too late. Like many women, Elaine put her own career on hold to raise a family, and didn’t pursue her dream until a later age. She began her vocal training in 1997 and went on to win several singing competitions, perform with choirs and choruses, and release a solo CD in 2004.
Bathroom Divas, the critically acclaimed six-part, one-hour documentary series produced by Kaleidoscope Entertainment for Bravo!, began with auditions in Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, Montreal and Halifax, where six finalists were hand-picked to participate in an extensive opera boot camp in Toronto. During the exhaustive three-week crash course, Elaine and her fellow competitors received intensive voice training, acting technique, stage fighting and more than 12-hours-a-week of one-on-one coaching with opera’s finest: Mary Lou Fallis, Tom Diamond (opera director/drama coach), Daniel Lichti (bass-baritone/ professor) and Liz Upchurch (pianist/vocal coach). For an aspiring opera singer, this exposure and experience is priceless.