“The Heart’s Obsession”

About the Book...

A standing ovation for Newfoundland’s international superstar opera singer, The Heart’s Obsession celebrates the historical ripple effect of one woman's voice—Georgina Ann Stirling—and brings her astounding legacy into the twenty-first century. Forging a musical journey from across the surging sea of Twillingate, this heroine conquered the hearts of audiences through Europe, the United States, and beyond. This is the definitive biography of Georgina Stirling.

The story of Georgina Stirling, who was also known as “Marie Toulinguet” and “The Nightingale of the North,” is one of proud heritage and love of family, as well as adventure and tragedy. The authors take us on a thrilling journey to experience the love and loss that “Georgie” must have felt during the years of her meteoric rise to fame. Calvin D. Evans separates fact from fiction as he examines the trail of documents and artifacts left behind that tell the story of Georgina’s life, while Newfoundland-born soprano Tonia Evans Cianciulli offers unique insight into the challenges faced by professional opera singers, both today and back in Georgina’s time.

Brava to this nineteenth-century trailblazer, who anchored her province on the opera stages of the world!

“As an opera singer raised in Newfoundland with an international career, it's fascinating to gain such insight into our province's pioneer opera star, Georgina Stirling. Tonia's draw to Georgina and her own Newfoundland roots is a beautiful story to which I immediately connected. It's a reminder of the great privilege it is to call Newfoundland my home.” — DAVID POMEROY, Newfoundland-born, Canadian Operatic Tenor

“As both a singer and a Newfoundlander, Tonia’s writing in The Heart’s Obsession sang to me in the story of two of our own finest vocalists separated by a century but bound by undeniable ties to their Island birthplace. Their careers have taken them around the world, but this is really the tale of how no matter where Georgina sang and Tonia continues to sing, they never really left Home at all.” — ALAN DOYLE, Musician, Author, Actor

The Heart’s Obsession . . . tells the story of Georgina Ann Stirling, a long-forgotten opera singer from Newfoundland, whose career took her to both sides of the Atlantic. It also tells the parallel story of its co-author, Tonia Evans Cianciulli. . . . Meticulously researched, liberally illustrated and with great attention to detail, it is clearly a labour of love. . . . This volume is an important addition to our body of knowledge on the glorious history of celebrated Canadian classical singers.” — JOSEPH SO, Opera Canada Magazine


About the Authors...

TONIA EVANS CIANCIULLI Soprano TONIA EVANS CIANCIULLI was born in St. John’s, Newfoundland. She is honoured to have embarked on this passionate journey to revive the life and legacy of the late Newfoundland Nightingale, Georgina Stirling, alongside her grandfather, Calvin D. Evans. She has toured her concert program, Nightingale Sings, across the province of Newfoundland, and in cities such as Toronto, Ottawa, and Miami and beyond. In 2018 she was awarded a Canada Council for the Arts grant for this significant and historical work, and she is now a proud member of both the Writers’ Alliance of Newfoundland and Labrador and The Writers’ Union of Canada. Tonia is a multi-faceted concert artist, performing her signature programs across North America and for niche events and fundraisers to rally support and encouragement within communities. She performs a wide variety of music, from opera to her own original music, and celebrates her roots covering the music of Newfoundland’s late folk hero, Ron Hynes. Praised for the work she does to shine a spotlight on two of her province’s most talented musicians, Georgina Stirling and Ron Hynes, Tonia has been featured in numerous interviews with CBC, SiriusXM, and Eastlink TV. Represented by Newfoundland’s record label, Citadel House, Tonia will be releasing two tribute albums paying homage to Georgina Stirling and Ron Hynes, to coincide with the launch of this book. The Heart’s Obsession companion album highlights repertoire most beloved by Georgina Stirling’s Newfoundland audiences, and Beckon Me Home is reflective of the love and connection to our island home that shines through the poignant lyrics and melodies of Ron Hynes. Both albums will continue to feature spectacular music videos that highlight the stunning landscapes in Newfoundland and its beloved culture, filmed by Twillingate drone artist Julian Earle, like that of her video of Ron Hynes’s “Marie.”  In 2010, Tonia founded Wish Opera/Arts, a non-profit organization and community of supportive artists, in collaboration with Maestro Kerry Stratton and the Toronto Concert Orchestra. She has produced multiple fully-staged theatrical productions, concerts, and niche events that feature Canadian opera singers and artists.  For more on Tonia click here.

CALVIN D. EVANSCALVIN D. EVANS retired from dual careers as a university librarian and a United Church minister. He has lived and worked in six of the provinces—Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. He is the author of six books: For Love of a Woman: The Evans Family and a Perspective on Shipbuilding in Newfoundland (Harry Cuff Publications, 1992); Soren Kierkegaard Bibliographies (McGill University, 1993); Silk Sails: Women of Newfoundland and Their Ships (Breakwater, 2008); Master Shipbuilders of Newfoundland and Labrador (Breakwater, Volume One 2013, Volume Two 2014). He has also written several articles on library science and has been a contributing writer for the Dictionary of Canadian Biography (seven biographies) and for the Encyclopedia of Newfoundland and Labrador. In 2005 he wrote the biographies of fifteen Newfoundland women for the Grand Falls–Windsor Chapter of the Council on the Status of Women. This document is available on an Internet site. In 2018 Calvin’s booklet Major Sidney Cotton’s Aviation Adventures in Newfoundland and in the Two World Wars was printed by Morgan Printing of Bishop’s Falls, Newfoundland and Labrador, under the sponsorship of the Botwood Heritage Society. Calvin is a member of the Writers’ Alliance of Newfoundland and Labrador and of The Writers’ Union of Canada. In 2009, Calvin was awarded the honorific title of Librarian Emeritus of McGill University. Calvin now lives with his wife, Goldie, in Wasaga Beach, Ontario. They have three children (plus one deceased), six grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren. They have spent the past ten summers at a cottage in Pleasantview, Newfoundland.

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