Consultant: Stage Director (Eugene Onegin), Drama Coach
Administration: General & Co-Artistic Director
Having worked within the realm of alternative multi-disciplinary theatre to grand opera for over 25 years, Canadian director Valerie Kuinka brings a wealth of experience and unique creativity to her work. The list of highly accomplished artists with whom she has collaborated is extensive: Placido Domingo, Anna Netrebko, Roberto Alagna, Richard Margison, Jose Cura, Nathan Gunn, Matthew Polenzani, Veronica Tennant, Rex Harrington, Quartetto Gelato, Alannah Myles, Frank Moore, and Shauna Rolston, to name but a few.
2021 marks the 15th season of The Highlands Opera Studio, a summer ensemble and professional training program for highly accomplished emerging operatic artists, in which she acts as General & Co-Artistic Director along with her husband, Artistic Director and operatic tenor, Richard Margison.
A stage director at the Metropolitan Opera in New York for four seasons (2004–08), Valerie was on the stage directing team of Romeo et Juliette (2005–06) and its revival (2007–08) as well as the revivals of Samson et Dalilah (2004–05, 2005–06), Idomeneo (2006–07) and Cavalleria Rusticana/Pagliacci (2006–07).
In 1996, Valerie established her own Toronto-based multi-disciplinary theatre company, COLLABORATIONS, and during its nine-year existence wrote, produced, directed, and often performed in 14 productions.
“Kuinka has established no small reputation for creating exciting seamless theatrical collage” – Geoff Chapman (Toronto Star, 2003);
“It was Kuinka’s instinct for elision that held everything together.” – William Littler (Toronto Star, 2004)
Valerie has also directed productions for Edmonton Opera, Manitoba Opera, Opera de Quebec, Pacific Opera Victoria, Opera Hamilton, Opera Lyra Ottawa, Quartetto Gelato, International Vocal Arts Festival (Tel-Aviv), The Banff Centre, The Glenn Gould School (Toronto), Opera Mississauga, The Canadian Childrens’ Opera Chorus (Toronto), and has assisted at the New York City Opera and the Vlaamse Opera in Antwerp.
“In so many ways, that it is hard to know where to begin or end, Kuinka laid bare, framed and illustrated the essence of this drama with exquisite skill and technical savvy... With video and her own consummate inventiveness Kuinka created a fresh, new and vibrantly alive Trovatore.”
– Hugh Fraser (Hamilton Spectator, 2012)
Beginning her career as a classical violist, Valerie has been (and continues to be) active as a chamber, orchestral, studio, and performance artist for over thirty years. She was a member of the orchestras of the Canadian Opera Company (since 1986) and the National Ballet of Canada (since 1984), playing every position from section to principal before her retirement from the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra in June 2005.
In recent years, Valerie has been devoting most of her time to working with emerging operatic artists as a dramatic/musicianship coach and career consultant and to building and running Highlands Opera Studio. Often working in tandem with her husband, Richard Margison, she is a regular guest coach and masterclass teacher with L'Atelier Lyrique (L'Opera de Montreal), and other national and international vocal institutions.