Lara Ciekiewicz…Ukrainian, Polish and 100% Canadian!!!


The first thing you notice about Lara Ciekiewicz is the incredible blue of her eyes and the deep-throated laugh that punctuates her conversation.  She has just returned to her home in Winnipeg from performances of South Pacific in Victoria where she wowed audiences as Ensign Nellie Forbush, the US Navy nurse determined ‘to wash that man right out-a her hair’!  “It was a tremendously rewarding experience,” she enthuses.  South Pacific is a masterpiece full of great tunes that speaks to the human condition.  It is truly timeless and alas, still all too relevant in its social themes.  The show stole a piece of my heart and I hope I get to do it again someday”.

Chances are she will, plus a large variety of other famous roles for sopranos with charisma, beauty and talent.  She traces much of her musical beginnings to Ukrainian cultural events, where she often sang, danced and even helped the ladies make holubsti!  She began Ukrainian dance early and also sang at Immaculate Conception Church in Cooks Creek, also known as the “Prairie Cathedral”.  To this day, one of her favourite Christmas recordings is Rejoice! by the superb male choir, Hoosli. 

She pursued her formal musical training at McGill University in Montreal where she studied with another famous Ukrainian soprano, Joanne Kolomyjec.  “I wore a beautiful pair of patent leather red boots for my McGill audition.  They were the first thing Joanne commented on.  She said, ‘I saw those boots and thought - that girl must be Ukrainian!’ ” she recalls with a smile.  After her time at McGill, she was accepted into the prestigious Atelier Lyrique de l’Opera de Montreal and was given the plum role of Musetta in La Boheme, a role she next sings for Manitoba Opera.  “Musetta is a firecracker with a heart of gold.” she says, her laugh erupting again.  “And I love the glamorous operetta heroines - Countess Maritza, The Gyspy Princess - and I’m always eager to use my dance background.  My poor directors - they must be sick of me asking if I need to bring my Ukrainian dance boots!  I haven’t used my tap shoes yet, but my red boots have come in handy.  I should come with a disclaimer that says, ‘Standing in circles may cause soprano to kolomyjka’.” 

Lara’s next operetta role is Countess Lisa in Toronto Operetta Theatre’s Land of Smiles by Franz Lehar at the St. Lawrence Centre, which runs from Dec. 27, 2013 till Jan 5, 2014.  “TOT is Canada’s premiere operetta company and audiences love their Holiday shows in particular.  In the Land of Smiles, I run away with a dashing Chinese prince.  Once in China, however, I find out ouir life together also includes a number of other brides!”  The ending is bittersweet and the two lovers part to the strains of one of the most famous love songs of all time, ‘Yours is my heart alone’.

The new production of The Land of Smiles will be staged by TOT’s General Director Guillermo Silva-Marin and Derek Bate conducts the orchestra, cast and chorus.   Lara’s costars include Ernesto Ramirez as Prince Sou-Chong, Vania Chan and Cindy Zhang sing the role of Princess Mi, Adam Fisher is Gustl, Curtis Sullivan appears as Uncle Chang and Gregory Finney will be Chi-Fu, the court Eunuch. “What I love about music is that it’s a universal language everyone understands…we sing, we dance and become a better community for it.”  Without a doubt, this Ukrainian-Polish soprano will enchant you in Land of Smiles…glorious tunes, romance and comedy for a 100% Canadian good time!