The COC Ensemble Studio — founded in 1980 with a generous continuing grant from Imperial Oil Limited and with assistance from the Government of Canada — is Canada's premier training program for young opera professionals.
It provides advanced instruction, hands-on experience, and the practical career development skills necessary to succeed as a self-employed artist in a highly competitive international environment.
The Ensemble is chosen through a national audition process. Members of the Ensemble Studio receive a blend of advanced study and practical experience. In this one-to-three-year program, singers receive vocal, theatrical and practical career development instruction.
Their practical experience includes understudying major roles, the annual Glencore Ensemble School tour, special Ensemble Studio chamber productions and a special Ensemble Studio performance of a COC mainstage production as well as roles in COC mainstage productions.
Apprentice stage directors, conductors and vocal coaches participate in the preparation of the company's mainstage productions, as well as School Tour performances and Ensemble Studio productions.
On November 26, 2013, the Canadian Opera Company’s fundraising gala Centre Stage took place at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, featuring the competitive vocal showcase of the COC’s Ensemble Studio Competition. The Ensemble Studio Competition featured singers from the final round of auditions for the COC Ensemble Studio, Canada’s premier training program for young opera professionals, competing for cash prizes ranging in value from $1,500 – $5,000.
Competing before a public audience, finalists in the Ensemble Studio Competition performed from the mainstage of the Four Seasons Centre, accompanied by the internationally acclaimed COC Orchestra conducted by COC Music Director Johannes Debus.
The competition was launched in 2011 by COC General Director Alexander Neef to showcase the opera talent the COC had scouted from across the country and create a public platform for celebrating the future of opera in Canada. For more information about the finalists and winners of Centre Stage, please visit our competition page.
Since its inception, more than 180 young Canadian singers, opera coaches, stage directors and conductors have acquired their first professional operatic experience through this program.
Graduates include such well known singers as Isabel Bayrakdarian, John Fanning, Robert Gleadow, Ben Heppner, Joseph Kaiser, Allyson McHardy, Jessica Muirhead, Wendy Neilsen, Gidon Saks and Krisztina Szabó.
Successful stage directors include Brian Deedrick, Tom Diamond, Roman Hurko and Maer Powell.
At the sold-out Ensemble Studio Competition in 2012, six singers – Gordon Bintner, Charlotte Burrage, Aviva Fortunata, Clarence Frazer, Andrew Haji, Danielle MacMillan – were selected out of 10 finalists to join the 2013/2014 Ensemble Studio.
The Ensemble Studio program is designed to serve as a bridge between academic programs and the professional world of opera. Applicants must display exceptional talent, have extensive operatic training and a thorough musical education.
Auditions take place every fall in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and New York. The final stage of the audition process is the Ensemble Studio Competition on November 26, 2013.
For more information contact the COC's Ensemble Studio Administrator at 416-363-6671 or send an e-mail.
Members of the 2013/2014 COC Ensemble Studio. Back row: (l-r): Owen McCausland, Clarence Frazer, Charlotte Burrage, Gordon Bintner, Andrew Haji Front row: Michael Shannon, Claire de Sévigné, Sasha Djihanian, Danielle MacMillan, Aviva Fortunata, Cameron McPhail. Photo credit: Karen Reeves, 2013.
The COC Ensemble Studio, underwritten in part by Peter M. Deeb and The Slaight Family Foundation, is Canada’s premier training program for young opera professionals and provides advanced instruction, hands-on experience, and career development opportunities. The Ensemble Studio is also supported by the Government of Canada through the Department of Canadian Heritage, RBC Foundation, Hal Jackman Foundation and other generous donors.