COC Media Releases

3/24/2017

FREE EVENTS IN TORONTO IN APRIL EXPLORING MÉTIS HISTORY, CULTURAL TRADITIONS AND CANADIAN OPERA COMPANY’S LOUIS RIEL

Read the PDF version here.

Toronto – In conjunction with the Canadian Opera Company’s new production of Harry Somers’ Louis Riel, FREE events are taking place in Toronto throughout the month of April, allowing the general public to discover this uniquely Canadian contribution to the opera world, as well as the Métis history and cultural traditions that inspired the operatic tale of the Métis leader and Canada’s westward expansion.

Métis artists appear in performance with the COC’s popular Free Concert Series in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts (145 Queen St. W.):

• On April 13, from 12 – 1 p.m., the V'ni Dansi's Louis Riel Métis Dancers bring the rhythms and images of the Métis spirit alive through traditional and contemporary styles of Métis dance and music. The Vancouver-based company is dedicated to sharing the dances, stories and culture of the Métis and, on April 13, performs in the Free Concert Series for the first time in celebration of the Métis people.

• On April 20, the Métis Fiddler Quartet comes to the Free Concert Series from 12 – 1 p.m., presenting a musical voyage that travels the trade routes of the Northwestern frontier. Born in Winnipeg, the four Delbaere-Sawchuk siblings: Alyssa, Conlin, Nicholas and Danton, of the Métis Fiddler Quartet, perform Métis fiddle music passed down by their elders, while drawing on their diverse backgrounds in classical music, jazz and beyond. On April 20, audience members are encouraged to clap, jig and sing along with this award-winning group and discover the history of the Métis people in Canada through fiddle tunes and songs.

Audiences of all ages can also participate in multiple community outreach events:

• On April 12, the COC hosts Rebel Without a Chance: Louis Riel at the Toronto Public Library – Don Mills location (888 Lawrence Ave. E.) as part of its Opera Talks series. In this free and interactive session, Opera Canada editor Wayne Gooding offers a multi-media exploration of the theme of opera and revolution by examining how the opera Louis Riel tells the story of this important historical figure. Rebel Without a Chance: Louis Riel takes place at 7 p.m. No advance registration is required.

• On April 13, the COC’s Youth Opera Lab series explores the traditional music of the Métis people in a workshop led by musician and educator Conlin Delbaere-Sawchuk of the Métis Fiddler Quartet. This free workshop for teens and young adults ages 16 to 24 takes place from 5 – 9:30 p.m. at Toronto’s Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts (145 Queen St. W.) and includes the opportunity to observe an on-stage rehearsal of the COC’s production of Louis Riel. Youth Opera Lab spaces are free but advance application is required to secure one of the 25 spots available. Applications are available at coc.ca/YOL and are being accepted as of March 20, 2017.

• On April 21, the free, day-long symposium Hearing Riel explores the complex biographical, historical and political terrain of Harry Somers’ landmark Canadian opera. Symposium presenters include Beverley McLachlin, Chief Justice of Canada; John Ralston Saul, author of A Fair Country; Métis activist and lawyer Jean Teillet, grand-niece of Louis Riel; Adam Gaudry, Métis Assistant Professor, Faculty of Native Studies, University of Alberta; and Peter Hinton, director of the COC’s new production of Louis Riel. This special, one-day-only event is presented by the COC in partnership with the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Music and the Humanities Initiative of the Munk School of Global Affairs. The symposium runs from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. at Innis Town Hall (2 Sussex Ave., St. George Campus, University of Toronto). Admission is free and tickets can be reserved in advance as of April 4 by visiting coc.ca/HearingRiel or by calling the COC Box Office at 416-363-8231. There is a limit of one ticket per person.

The 2017 production of Louis Riel is made possible through the financial support of individuals, corporations and charitable foundations and trusts. The COC gratefully acknowledges its underwriters: The Catherine and Maxwell Meighen Foundation, Philip Deck and Kimberley Bozak, Asper Foundation, and The Max Clarkson Family Foundation in honour of Harry Somers; with additional support from Mark and Gail Appel, Margaret Harriett Cameron, Catherine Fauquier, Sally Holton, Michiel Horn and Cornelia Schuh, Michael and Linda Hutcheon, The Michael and Sonja Koerner Charitable Foundation, Peter Levitt and Mai Why, John D. McKellar, Trina McQueen, Roger D. Moore, Sue Mortimer, Dr. Shirley C. Neuman, Tim and Frances Price, Dr. Joseph So, Philip Somerville, Françoise Sutton, Dr. John Stanley and Dr. Helmut Reichenbächer, The Stratton Trust, and John Wright and Chung-Wai Chow. Louis Riel has also been made possible by generous donors to the National Arts Centre Foundation, who believe in investing in Canadian creators, including Kimberley Bozak and Philip Deck, Earlaine Collins and TD Bank Group.

Louis Riel was composed by Harry Somers for Canada’s centennial in 1967. Louis Riel is sung in English, French, Michif and Cree with English, French, Michif and Cree SURTITLESTM.

The COC presents seven performances of Louis Riel on April 20, 23, 26, 29, May 2, 5, 13, 2017 at Toronto’s Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. The 2017 production is a co-production with the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, where Louis Riel will be performed in June 2017.

For more information on the COC’s production of Louis Riel and the various events taking place in conjunction with its Toronto presentation, visit coc.ca.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
BMO Financial Group: Season Sponsor
Mercedes-Benz Canada: Official Automotive Sponsor of the COC at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts
TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite Privilege*: Preferred Credit Card
TD Bank Group: Presenting Sponsor Opera Under 30

About the Canadian Opera Company
Based in Toronto, the Canadian Opera Company is the largest producer of opera in Canada and one of the 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 Schmitt Architects, the Four Seasons Centre opened in 2006. For more information on the COC, visit coc.ca.

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For more information or to request photography, please contact:
Jennifer Pugsley, Media Relations Manager, tel: 416-306-2303, e-mail: jenniferp@coc.ca
Kristin McKinnon, Publicist, tel: 416-306-2383, e-mail: kmckinnon@coc.ca


Posted by Public Relations / in Press Releases / comments (0) / permalink

3/20/2017

CANADIAN OPERA COMPANY ASSEMBLES ALL-CANADIAN CAST FOR LOUIS RIEL

Read the PDF version here.

Renewing Opera’s Original Spirit with Contemporary Perspectives for 2017 Revival

Toronto – The Canadian Opera Company has brought together an all-Canadian cast, led by renowned Canadian baritone Russell Braun in the title role, for its highly anticipated revival of Harry Somers’ Louis Riel. This new production of Louis Riel is co-produced with the National Arts Centre in anticipation of Canada’s sesquicentennial and runs for seven performances by the COC on April 20, 23, 26, 29, May 2, 5, 13, 2017 at Toronto’s Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. This production will have its premiere in Ottawa by the NAC on June 15 and 17, 2017.

Composed by Harry Somers for Canada’s centennial in 1967, Louis Riel is a uniquely Canadian contribution to the opera world about Métis leader Louis Riel and Canada’s westward expansion. Telling the history of Louis Riel is ever more important in this period of Truth and Reconciliation.

“Perhaps the most considerable challenge in staging this opera is the Eurocentric tradition of opera as a form and its collision with the voice, culture and representation of indigeneity in this history,” says Louis Riel director Peter Hinton. “It is a delicate balance of renewing the original spirit of the opera with contemporary perspectives in order to revise the opera’s colonial biases and bring forward its inherent strengths and powers.”

A group of Indigenous men and women have been cast as a physical chorus known as the Land Assembly. On stage throughout the opera, the Land Assembly is a silent chorus in protest, and stands for the people for whom the opera has not provided a voice. The Land Assembly shift and transform in response to the actions on stage and are a constant, physical representation of the Indigenous men and women who are directly affected by the outcomes, victories and losses of Riel. Among the individuals joining the Land Assembly for the Toronto presentation is acclaimed theatre creator and artistic leader Cole Alvis of Métis-Irish/English heritage from the Turtle Mountains in Manitoba.

Thirty-five members of the COC Chorus will take on the role of the Parliamentary Chorus and represent a group of settler and immigrant men and women. The Parliamentary Chorus sings and is seen but does not participate in the physical action of the narrative, only commenting and debating on what should take place. They serve as a modern-day Greek Chorus while also representing the functions of Members of Parliament who legislate and validate the struggles of all Canadians in Ottawa. An additional five members of the COC Chorus will be members of the Métis Nation.

Louis Riel features 39 named characters portrayed by 30 artists, listed here in order of approximate first vocal appearance.

Cole Alvis is the Land Assembly leader and takes on the created role, the Activist, delivering the Land Acknowledgement as the opera unfolds and setting the tone for interpreting the action playing out on stage.

Juno Award-nominated multidisciplinary artist Jani Lauzon, of Métis heritage from East Kootenay, B.C., makes her COC debut in the newly created role of The Folksinger, delivering the first vocal line of Louis Riel. Where previously delivered in the styling of a classically trained operatic voice, it will now be heard in the style of a contemporary Métis singer. Lauzon also takes on the roles of Elzéar Lagimodière, a follower of Riel, as well as the Clerk of the Court and the Prison Guard.

Baritone Doug MacNaughton, a graduate of the COC Ensemble Studio who has gone on to sing throughout Canada, the United States and Europe, is William McDougall, the Canadian lawyer and politician turned away from Fort Garry by Riel. He also sings the role of the Judge.

Ensemble Studio tenor Charles Sy, a young artist praised for his “pleasing, sweet timbre, and innate musicality” (Musical Toronto), is Ambroise Lépine, a farmer and leader of the Métis people.

Tenor Keith Klassen is first heard as a British Soldier and then as a Hudson’s Bay Scout.

Tenor Michael Colvin, an Ensemble Studio graduate who has appeared on opera and concert stages throughout Canada and abroad, sings the role of Thomas Scott, the Protestant Orangeman executed on orders from Louis Riel.

In the roles of Louis Riel’s fellow Métis, present at the trial of Thomas Scott, are five singers from the COC Chorus: baritone Bruno Cormier is Joseph Delorme; baritone Jan Vaculik is Janvier Ritchot, bass-baritone Michael Downie is Elzéar Goulet; tenor Vanya Abrahams is André Nault; and tenor Taras Chmil is Baptiste Lépine.

Singing the title role for the first time is internationally renowned Canadian baritone Russell Braun. He brings the full force of his celebrated vocal and dramatic prowess to embody Louis Riel, one of the most pivotal figures in Canadian politics of the 19th century.

As Dr. Schultz and Charles Mair, leading opponents of Louis Riel’s provisional government, are rising Canadian opera singers baritone Andrew Love and tenor Thomas Glenn.

Ensemble Studio alumnus bass-baritone Neil Craighead takes on the roles of O’Donaghue, a Fenian Irishman banished from Canada alongside Louis Riel, and B. B. Osler, Canadian lawyer and prosecutor in the Riel trial.

Ensemble Studio graduate bass Alain Coulombe, one of the most commanding and exciting singers of his generation, returns to the COC as Bishop Alexandre-Antonin Taché, the Roman Catholic bishop who served as an intermediary between Riel’s provisional government and Sir John A. Macdonald’s cabinet.

Baritone James Westman, a graduate of the Ensemble Studio, now brings his passion and musicianship to the role of Canada’s first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald.

Ensemble Studio tenor Aaron Sheppard appears in two roles: as Donald Smith of the Hudson’s Bay Company, sent to Fort Garry to assist in settling the terms of a union with Louis Riel’s provisional government, and as Sir Frederick Middleton, the British commander that led the attack on the Métis stronghold of Batoche, Sask., and captured Louis Riel.

Ensemble Studio graduate tenor Jean-Philippe Fortier-Lazure returns in the roles of Canadian statesman Sir George-Étienne Cartier, an intermediary with Canada’s government at the time of the Red River Resistance in 1869-1870, and Father André, Louis Riel’s spiritual adviser before his execution.

Ensemble Studio graduate Allyson McHardy’s mezzo-soprano has been described as radiant, dusky, incandescent, and sumptuous, complemented by a noble and spell-binding presence. She returns to the COC as Julie Riel, Louis Riel’s mother and confidante.

Making her COC debut as Sara Riel, Louis Riel’s sister, is soprano Joanna Burt. A Métis/Saugeen Ojibway artist from Lindsay, Ont., Burt is currently completing the Artist Diploma program of The Glenn Gould School of Music at The Royal Conservatory of Music.

Ensemble Studio graduate baritone Peter Barrett is Colonel Garnet Wolseley, who led the military force to capture Fort Garry.

Ensemble Studio alumna soprano Simone Osborne is quickly establishing herself as one of the most exciting emerging artists in the opera world and returns to the COC in the role of Marguerite Riel, Louis Riel’s wife.

Unique to the score of Louis Riel and the role of Marguerite Riel is the “Kuyas” aria, which opens Act III and is sung in Cree. The music for the “Kuyas” aria was based on a Nisg̱a’a mourning song called “Song of Skateen” that was recorded by Marius Barbeau and transcribed by Sir Ernest MacMillan on the Nass River in 1927. The words for “Kuyas” were selected by Somers from Cree Grammar by Rev. H. E. Hivers and the English-Cree Primer and Vocabulary by Rev. F. G. Stevens, as well as from a story told by Coming Day to Leonard Bloomfield on the Sweetgrass Reserve in Saskatchewan. The composer was further assisted in ascertaining pronunciation and feeling for the language by Mrs. Lou Waller of Cree descent from Alberta, to whom Somers dedicated the “Kuyas” aria. With respect to both the Nisg̱a’a and Métis peoples and in recognition of how the songs of one nation are not the same as another’s, the COC and NAC’s co-production of Louis Riel acknowledges the current holder of the hereditary rights to this song: Sim'oogit Sg̱at'iin, hereditary chief Isaac Gonu, Gisḵ'ansnaat (Grizzly Bear Clan), Gitlax̱t'aamiks, B.C.

The delegation that travelled to Montana to bring Riel back to Canada was originally written by Somers and librettist Mavor Moore for three singers although historically it was a four-man envoy. The 2017 revival of Louis Riel has taken this into consideration by making minor adjustments to reflect the historical account of this pivotal meeting. Acclaimed stage, film, and television actor and playwright of Cree descent, Billy Merasty, makes his COC debut as the Plains Cree chief Poundmaker. Ensemble Studio baritone Bruno Roy takes on the newly introduced role of Louis Schmidt, who was Riel’s friend and secretary of the provisional government during the Red River Resistance. Roy also appears in the additional role of Dr. François Roy, who testified at Riel’s trial. Ensemble Studio alumni, tenor Andrew Haji and baritone Clarence Frazer, appear in the roles of Métis leaders Gabriel Dumont and James Isbister, respectively.

Cree bass-baritone Everett Morrison, originally from Moosonee, Ont., makes his COC debut as Cree war chief Wandering Spirit, who joined with Louis Riel leading up to the events of 1885.

Baritone Dion Mazerolle, praised for a wide range of operatic roles and concert performances, makes his COC debut as F. X. Lemieux, Louis Riel’s lawyer.

Making his COC debut as the Buffalo Dancer is Justin Many Fingers (Mii-sum-ma-nis-kim). A singer, actor and dancer from the Lavern Kainai Blackfoot Reserve in southern Alberta, Many Fingers performs two dance sequences entitled “Buffalo Hunt,” in the last scene of Act II of Louis Riel, intended as a reenactment of a Métis buffalo hunt.

The 2017 production of Louis Riel is made possible through the financial support of individuals, corporations and charitable foundations and trusts. The COC gratefully acknowledges its underwriters: The Catherine and Maxwell Meighen Foundation, Philip Deck and Kimberley Bozak, Asper Foundation, and The Max Clarkson Family Foundation in honour of Harry Somers; with additional support from Mark and Gail Appel, Margaret Harriett Cameron, Catherine Fauquier, Sally Holton, Michiel Horn and Cornelia Schuh, Michael and Linda Hutcheon, The Michael and Sonja Koerner Charitable Foundation, Peter Levitt and Mai Why, John D. McKellar, Trina McQueen, Roger D. Moore, Sue Mortimer, Dr. Shirley C. Neuman, Tim and Frances Price, Dr. Joseph So, Philip Somerville, Françoise Sutton, Dr. John Stanley and Dr. Helmut Reichenbächer, The Stratton Trust, and John Wright and Chung-Wai Chow. Louis Riel has also been made possible by generous donors to the National Arts Centre Foundation, who believe in investing in Canadian creators, including Kimberley Bozak and Philip Deck, Earlaine Collins and TD Bank Group.

Louis Riel was the first opera written by a Canadian to be presented by the COC, and the COC is the only professional opera company to date to have ever performed it. Louis Riel is sung in English, French, Michif and Cree with English, French, Michif and Cree SURTITLESTM.

The NAC presents Louis Riel on June 15 and 17, 2017 as part of its Canada Scene festival in Ottawa. For more information on the NAC’s performances of this production of Louis Riel, please visit www.nac-cna.ca.

TICKET INFORMATION
Single tickets for Louis Riel range from $35 – $235 and box seats, when available, are $350. Tickets are now on sale, available online at coc.ca, by calling 416-363-8231, or in person at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts Box Office (145 Queen St. W.). For more information on specially priced tickets available to young people under the age of 15, standing room, Opera Under 30 presented by TD Bank Group, student groups and rush seating, visit coc.ca.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
BMO Financial Group: Season Sponsor
Mercedes-Benz Canada: Official Automotive Sponsor of the COC at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts
TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite Privilege*: Preferred Credit Card
TD Bank Group: Presenting Sponsor Opera Under 30

About the Canadian Opera Company
Based in Toronto, the Canadian Opera Company is the largest producer of opera in Canada and one of the 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 Schmitt Architects, the Four Seasons Centre opened in 2006. For more information on the COC, visit coc.ca.

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For more information or to request photography, please contact:
Jennifer Pugsley, Media Relations Manager, tel: 416-306-2303, e-mail: jenniferp@coc.ca
Kristin McKinnon, Publicist, tel: 416-306-2383, e-mail: kmckinnon@coc.ca

Posted by Public Relations / in Press Releases / comments (0) / permalink

3/17/2017

CANADIAN OPERA COMPANY’S 2017 REVIVAL OF LOUIS RIEL FEATURES VOICES NOT HEARD BEFORE

Read the PDF version here.

A Uniquely Canadian Contribution to Opera Revisited for the 21st Century

Toronto – Louis Riel, composed by Harry Somers with libretto by Mavor Moore, is a uniquely Canadian contribution to the opera world. First performed in 1967 and last performed by the COC in 1975, Louis Riel returns to the stage in 2017 in a new co-production between the COC and National Arts Centre (NAC) that works to revise the opera’s colonial biases and bring forward its inherent strengths and power. Louis Riel runs for seven performances by the COC on April 20, 23, 26, 29, May 2, 5, 13, 2017 at Toronto’s Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts before making its way to Ottawa to be presented by the NAC on June 15 and 17, 2017.

Somers’ Louis Riel is the epic presentation of an intensely contentious moment in Canada’s political history dramatizing the story of the Métis leader, Louis Riel, and Canada’s westward expansion, while also being a landmark work in the canon of Canadian opera. At its 1967 world premiere, the Globe and Mail announced that with Louis Riel “[Canadian opera took] its first gigantic step forward,” Time magazine declared it an “undeniably masterful score,” and Opernwelt deemed the libretto “a masterpiece of dramatic concentration.” Its subsequent revival in 1975 at Washington’s Kennedy Center was met with the pronouncement of being “one of the most imaginative and powerful scores to have been written in this century” (Washington Star).

“Even 50 years after its creation, Louis Riel still hits us with its bold and commanding vision. Somers and Moore created a unique, powerful and daring statement that makes the piece rank amongst the most important and interesting works of music theatre of the last century,” says COC Music Director Johannes Debus, who conducts the COC Orchestra when Louis Riel is presented in Toronto.

In reviving the opera for 2017, the COC/NAC co-production confronts the traditions and demands of an art form that make Louis Riel a dynamic and compelling opera and its collision with the voice, culture and representation of indigeneity. This production uses historical research and multiple community perspectives to expose the lines between truth and mythology and co-existing perspectives of settler and indigenous stances as Riel’s story is told and retold.

“The challenges are many and well worth the undertaking. We’re looking at this opera from a more inclusive perspective,” says Louis Riel director Peter Hinton. “We’re not changing the intentions of the piece, but revisions are being made that honour the virtuosic complexity of the music, while allowing for the introduction of voices that have not been heard before.”

“We have an opportunity here to give the performance history of Louis Riel a new point of reference,” adds Debus. “We want to make sure that this striking piece of music theatre is done right to see its importance and continued relevance.”

Louis Riel distinguishes itself from other operas with its musical diversity. In addition to incorporating original folk music and traditional melody lines, Somers wrote in an abstract atonal orchestral style which heightens the dramatic intensity and sets the orchestra entirely apart from the singing. Electronic music also comes into play, creating at times an auditory surrealism that mirrors the distortion and confusion of events unfolding in the narrative.

Louis Riel demands singers to demonstrate a range of vocal techniques and dramatic intonation, sometimes in harmony with the orchestra and sometimes in conflict, and other times delivering gripping musical lines with the voice completely laid bare to scrutiny and unsupported by the orchestra. An orchestra of 67 musicians, including strings, woodwinds, brass, piano, and large percussion ensemble requiring six players, accompanies the cast and chorus.

Unique to the score of Louis Riel is the “Kuyas” aria which opens Act III and is sung in Cree by the artist in the role of Marguerite Riel, Louis Riel’s wife. The music for the “Kuyas” aria was based on a Nisg̱a’a mourning song called “Song of Skateen” that was recorded by Marius Barbeau and and transcribed by Sir Ernest MacMillan on the Nass River in 1927. The words for “Kuyas” were selected by Somers from Cree Grammar by Rev. H. E. Hivers and the English-Cree Primer and Vocabulary by Rev. F. G. Stevens, as well as from a story told by Coming Day to Leonard Bloomfield on the Sweetgrass Reserve in Saskatchewan. The composer was further assisted in ascertaining pronunciation and feeling for the language by Mrs. Lou Waller of Cree descent from Alberta, to whom Somers dedicated the “Kuyas” aria. With respect to both the Nisg̱a’a and Métis peoples and in recognition of how the songs of one nation are not the same as another’s, the COC and NAC’s co-production of Louis Riel acknowledges the current holder of the hereditary rights to this song: Sim'oogit Sg̱at'iin, hereditary chief Isaac Gonu, Gisḵ'ansnaat (Grizzly Bear Clan), Gitlax̱t'aamiks, B.C.

For the 2017 production, Louis Riel will continue to be sung in English, French and Cree, however, it will now feature a new translation of the Cree and include spoken dialogue in Michif, the official language of the Métis that would have been spoken in the 19th century, in select scenes between Métis characters. The new Cree translation is by Manitoba-born actor and writer Billy Merasty, who is of Cree descent, and the Métis dialogue is translated by Norman Fleury, a Métis elder, Michif language expert and translator, professor, and historian. The 2017 production of Louis Riel will also feature English, French, Cree and Michif SURTITLESTM.

The role of the chorus in Louis Riel has also been redesigned. The original opera called for a single large chorus to act and sing a variety of groups and assemblies in the narrative. For the 2017 revival, there will be two choruses performing in contrast to the historical figures represented by the principal cast, representing the modern dynamic of debate and protest that continue of this history, both in the houses of parliament and on the land.

The COC Chorus takes on the role of the Parliamentary Chorus and represents a group of settler and immigrant men and women. The Parliamentary Chorus sings and is seen but does not participate in the physical action of the narrative, only commenting and debating on what should take place. They serve as a modern-day Greek Chorus while also representing the functions of Members of Parliament who legislate and validate the struggles of all Canadians in Ottawa. Additional members of the COC Chorus will be members of the Métis Nation.

A group of Indigenous men and women will be cast as the physical chorus known as the Land Assembly. On stage throughout the opera, the Land Assembly is a silent chorus in protest, and stands for the people for whom the opera has not provided a voice. The Land Assembly shift and transform in response to the actions on stage and are a constant, physical representation of the Indigenous men and women who are directly affected by the outcomes, victories and losses of Riel. The players in the Land Assembly will be announced at a later date as part of the COC’s complete casting release for Louis Riel.

New characters have been introduced to bring Indigenous voices into the opera as well as present a more informed history of the Métis and Indigenous peoples in Riel’s history. The previously unattributed opening vocal line is now delivered by a character known as The Folksinger, to be sung by a contemporary Métis singer. The role of The Activist, to be played by a Métis actor, will deliver the Land Acknowledgement as the opera unfolds, setting the tone for interpreting the action playing out on stage. The artists in these roles will be announced at a later date as part of the COC’s complete casting release for Louis Riel.

The 2017 production of Louis Riel is made possible through the financial support of individuals, corporations and charitable foundations and trusts. The COC gratefully acknowledges its underwriters: The Catherine and Maxwell Meighen Foundation, Philip Deck and Kimberley Bozak, Asper Foundation, and The Max Clarkson Family Foundation in honour of Harry Somers; with additional support from Mark and Gail Appel, Margaret Harriett Cameron, Catherine Fauquier, Sally Holton, Michiel Horn and Cornelia Schuh, Michael and Linda Hutcheon, The Michael and Sonja Koerner Charitable Foundation, Peter Levitt and Mai Why, John D. McKellar, Trina McQueen, Roger D. Moore, Sue Mortimer, Dr. Shirley C. Neuman, Tim and Frances Price, Dr. Joseph So, Philip Somerville, Françoise Sutton, Dr. John Stanley and Dr. Helmut Reichenbächer, The Stratton Trust, and John Wright and Chung-Wai Chow. Louis Riel has also been made possible by generous donors to the National Arts Centre Foundation, who believe in investing in Canadian creators, including Kimberley Bozak and Philip Deck, Earlaine Collins and TD Bank Group.

Louis Riel was the first opera written by a Canadian to be presented by the COC, and the COC is the only professional opera company to date to have ever performed it. Somers and Moore were commissioned in 1966 by the Floyd S. Chalmers Foundation to write an opera to commemorate the centennial of Canada, and it was subsequently performed by the COC in 1967 and 1975.

The NAC presents Louis Riel on June 15 and 17, 2017 as part of its Canada Scene festival in Ottawa. For more information on the NAC’s performances of this production of Louis Riel, please visit www.nac-cna.ca.

TICKET INFORMATION
Single tickets for Louis Riel range from $35 – $235 and box seats, when available, are $350. Tickets are now on sale, available online at coc.ca, by calling 416-363-8231, or in person at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts Box Office (145 Queen St. W.). For more information on specially priced tickets available to young people under the age of 15, standing room, Opera Under 30 presented by TD Bank Group, student groups and rush seating, visit coc.ca.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
BMO Financial Group: Season Sponsor
Mercedes-Benz Canada: Official Automotive Sponsor of the COC at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts
TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite Privilege*: Preferred Credit Card
TD Bank Group: Presenting Sponsor Opera Under 30

About the Canadian Opera Company
Based in Toronto, the Canadian Opera Company is the largest producer of opera in Canada and one of the 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 Schmitt Architects, the Four Seasons Centre opened in 2006. For more information on the COC, visit coc.ca.

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For more information or to request photography, please contact:

Jennifer Pugsley, Media Relations Manager, tel: 416-306-2303, e-mail: jenniferp@coc.ca
Kristin McKinnon, Publicist, tel: 416-306-2383, e-mail: kmckinnon@coc.ca

Posted by Public Relations / in Press Releases / comments (0) / permalink

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