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The COC travels across Ontario introducing children to opera with the Xstrata Ensemble Studio School Tour

Toronto, Ontario � The Canadian Opera Company's Xstrata Ensemble Studio School Tour returns to elementary schools across Ontario this fall introducing children to the world of opera.  For over 20 years, the COC's renowned school tour has brought opera to local schools and communities across Ontario, in the last two years adding northern Ontario to the list of destinations with performances in Sudbury and Timmins.  This year the COC presents its acclaimed operas, Isis and the Seven Scorpions, by Canadian composer Dean Burry, and Cinderella, a combination of Jules Massenet's and Rossini's musical scores, from November 8 to December 5, 2010.  

The annual Xstrata Ensemble Studio School Tour reaches over 16,000 students from Kindergarten to Grade 6 and displays the talents of professional singers from the renowned COC Ensemble Studio training program.  The tour features a 50-minute performance sung in English, which is adapted for a younger audience, concluding with a post-show question-and-answer period with members from the cast and crew.  A complete tour schedule is available upon request.

Xstrata, a major global diversified mining group, is the Title Sponsor of the school tour.  �We are extremely pleased at how well the Xstrata Ensemble Studio School Tour has been received by communities across Ontario,� says Peter Fuchs, Director of Corporate Affairs for Xstrata Nickel. �We are especially happy to see the tour continue to travel to northern Ontario, in particular to Sudbury and Timmins as part of our mission to bring unique cultural experiences to some of the communities in which we work.�

"We are so grateful to Xstrata which has been instrumental in helping us travel farther than ever before to bring our program to communities across the province," says Alexander Neef, General Director of the Canadian Opera Company.  "The performances generate so much enthusiasm from the children, and we hope that this is the beginning of a lifelong love of the arts and opera for them."

For many children, the Xstrata Ensemble Studio School Tour is their first experience with opera, and it allows them to discover a new and exciting art form. "You made us very, very, very happy� the music was beautiful� we really enjoyed the show," stated a letter from a Grade 3 student from Secord Elementary School in Toronto.  The tour also appeals to educators who appreciate the educational value of the performances.  "I wish you could have seen the enraptured look on the face of one of our Senior Kindergarten students," said a teacher from Prince Charles Elementary School, in Brantford, Ont., after seeing The Barber of Seville in the fall of 2009.  "I know that many children are now huge fans of opera and will undoubtedly be predisposed to attend more as adults as a result of this early exposure."

Isis and the Seven Scorpions by Dean Burry

Commissioned by the COC for the school tour in 2006, Isis and the Seven Scorpions is written specifically for elementary school audiences, and is sung in English.  Set in the midst of an Egyptian sandstorm, this opera follows the adventures of Professor Hornsby and his students.  When Professor Hornsby is stung by a poisonous scorpion, his students must find the cure hidden in ancient hieroglyphics in the Lost Temple of Isis.  In an effort to save their professor, the students use Isis's ancient wisdom and learn the power of forgiveness.

Musical Director: Christopher Mokrzewski
Director: Graham Cozzubbo
Designer: Brent Krysa

Professor Hornsby/Set/Rami: Christopher Enns
Sally Smith/Isis: Simone Osborne/Jacqueline Woodley
David Sands/Osiris/The Scorpions: Adrian Kramer
Molly Brown/Nephtys/Tahamet: Wallis Giunta

Cinderella by Gioacchino Rossini and Jules Massenet

The enduring fairy tale Cinderella is transformed into a charming opera for children.  This performance, a mix of Rossini's and Massenet's enchanting music, is sung in both English and French and tells the tale of Cinderella's quest to find her prince. 

Musical Directors: Anne Larlee, Andrea Grant, Kate Carver
Director: Ashlie Corcoran
Designer: Robin Fisher
Cinderella: Rihab Chaieb
Clorinda: Ambur Braid
Tisbe: Heather Jewson
The Prince: Michael Barrett
The King/Narrator: Neil Craighead/Michael Uloth

The COC's Ensemble Studio 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 generously supported by the Government of Canada through the department of Canadian Heritage, RBC Foundation and additional donors.

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 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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