COC Media Releases


Canadian Opera Company Reports Surplus For 2009/2010 Record-Breaking 60th Season

Toronto, Ontario � Today at the Canadian Opera Company's (COC) Annual General Meeting, COC Board President Paul Spafford announced that the COC enjoyed another record-breaking season in 2009/2010, and achieved a modest surplus of $21,000. The COC reached a season ticket revenue record of $13,422,000, a 6.2% increase over the previous season, and also broke its own record of the most single tickets sold in one mainstage season � over 50,000. The company's average season attendance was 97.6%. 

In the fall of 2009, the sold-out combination of Madama Butterfly and The Nightingale and Other Short Fables alone drew in 49,000 audience members, with the remainder of the season playing to great critical acclaim and full houses. In total, 137,000 audience members attended the 09/10 mainstage season.

�Artistically and creatively we had a very satisfying 60th anniversary season. I am happy to report that financially, it's been a good one as well,� said President Paul Spafford. �While last year's economic crisis still loomed over our fundraising efforts, the company worked extremely hard to mitigate its overall effects by saving wherever possible, finding advantageous partnerships, and through successful fundraising. Everyone worked very hard to achieve this positive result and I am exceedingly proud to be associated with a company that shows such fiscal responsibility to its subscribers, donors, volunteers and staff.�

He continued, �There is no question that core funding support in the form of annual grants and gifts from both our public and private partners is vital to our long-term stability, regardless of the company's annual budgetary success. Yes, ticket sales in 09/10 were very high, but it's worth remembering that those sales only account for 41% of our annual revenues. The remainder must come from those who believe that the COC is worth supporting beyond simply purchasing a ticket or a subscription. And those who do are, thankfully, very generous in their support.�

�We are working harder than ever to offer our audiences opera of the highest standards, and collaborating with exceptional Canadian and international artists and companies. The results show in our attendance levels which are the envy of every other professional opera company in the world,� said Alexander Neef. �Obviously, the power of opera and the enthusiasm of the public endure despite challenging economic time.  And these challenges remind us how lucky we are to have the continued support and dedication of our patrons, subscribers and generous donors. I am glad that we can engage our audiences with what we create.�

For the 09/10 season, box office revenue represented 41% of total operating revenues, with fundraising and sponsorship accounting for 28%, government funding accounting for 19%, and the remaining 12% coming from other income sources such as space and production rentals.

The 09/10 mainstage season saw 70 performances of seven operas on the mainstage, including a special performance of Mozart's Idomeneo featuring members of the Ensemble Studio. The season featured the world-premiere production of The Nightingale and Other Short Fables by acclaimed director Robert Lepage, Canada's first fully-staged production of Gaetano Donizetti's Maria Stuarda, new productions of Verdi's Otello and Mozart's Idomeneo, and the return of the COC's acclaimed productions of Madama Butterfly, Carmen, and The Flying Dutchman. In addition, the COC celebrated its Diamond Anniversary with a special concert featuring singers Ramón Vargas, John Treleaven, and Russell Braun, with COC music director Johannes Debus leading the COC Orchestra.

In 09/10, the COC's popular Free Concert Series in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre marked its fourth year with 78 free events ranging from vocal recitals to cutting-edge contemporary dance performances, and continued to draw capacity crowds. With over 600 artists taking the stage, the Free Concert Series attracted over 16,000 audience members of all backgrounds and ages who experienced the artistic excellence and cultural diversity of the city. 

Both the Ontario Arts Council and Toronto Culture showed leadership by providing an increase in their annual allocation to the COC, and the company is extremely grateful for this increased investment as well as to the Canada Council for the Arts for its continued support.

Over 6,000 loyal supporters, subscribers and donors, corporations, and foundations contributed more than $8 million to the COC in 2009/10.  Approximately 73% of the $8 million � almost $6 million � came from support for our mainstage productions and artists, as well as transition and endowment funding, production underwriting, training, and education and outreach programs.  In addition, many donors contribute annually through the Golden Circle, President's Council and Friends of the COC patron programs � including a lead gift from an anonymous donor to the Year-End Matching Appeal. 

COC fundraising efforts through special projects and events, including the 16th annual Opera Golf Classic, the 11th Annual Fine Wine Auction, and Operanation 6, netted over $500,000 to the company. 

The COC continued to receive support from several loyal corporate sponsors: Sun Life Financial with the Sun Life Financial Accessibility Program; Jaguar Land Rover Canada as the Official Automotive Sponsor; Trius wine from Andrew Peller Limited as the Official Canadian Wine of the COC; Delvinia as the Digital Marketing Sponsor; CTVglobemedia Inc. as the Official Media Sponsor; the Hilton Toronto as the Preferred Hospitality Sponsor; and St. Joseph Print as the Official Print Sponsor.  Production Sponsors for the season included CIBC and CIBC Mellon (Carmen), National Bank Financial Group (Otello), RBC (Madama Butterfly), Scotiabank (Maria Stuarda), and Intact Insurance (Idomeneo).

The COC began its 2010/2011 season this fall with a new production of Verdi's Aida and Benjamin Britten's Death in Venice.  It continues in January 2011 with a new production of Mozart's The Magic Flute directed by Diane Paulus, followed by the company premiere of John Adams' contemporary opera Nixon in China.  The spring run includes Rossini's La Cenerentola, followed by Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos, and the company's first Gluck opera, Orfeo ed Euridice.  The Ensemble Studio performance of The Magic Flute on the mainstage takes place on February 17, 2011.

About the Canadian Opera Company
Based in Toronto, the Canadian Opera Company is the largest producer of opera in Canada and one of the five largest in North America.  The COC enjoys a loyal audience support-base and one of the highest attendance and subscription rates in North America.  Under its new leadership team of General Director Alexander Neef and Music Director Johannes Debus, the COC is increasingly capturing the opera world's attention.  The COC maintains its international reputation for artistic excellence and creative innovation by creating new productions within its diverse repertoire, collaborating with leading opera companies and festivals, and attracting the world's foremost Canadian and international artists.  The COC performs in its own opera house, the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, hailed internationally as one of the finest in the world.  Designed by Diamond and Schmitt Architects, the Four Seasons Centre opened in 2006, and is also the performance venue for The National Ballet of Canada.  For more information on the Canadian Opera Company, please visit its award-winning website,

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