COC Media Releases

12/9/2015

COC REVEALS HUMAN PASSIONS AT PLAY IN NEW PRODUCTION OF MOZART’S WITTY FARCE, THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO

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TorontoCanadian Opera Company audiences find themselves ensnared in a web of erotic passions with a new production of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro this February. One of the most beautiful and convincing operas about the fluid enchantments, maze-like confusions and bouts of sheer blindness brought on by love, this new staging is directed by one of the most sought-after and critically acclaimed artists of his generation, Claus Guth, with equally celebrated musical leadership by COC Music Director Johannes Debus. The Marriage of Figaro is on stage at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts for 11 performances, including a special presentation starring the young artists of the COC’s Ensemble Studio training program, on February 4, 7, 9, 13, 17, 19, 21, 22*, 23, 25 and 27, 2016.

This new COC production of The Marriage of Figaro was originally built by the Salzburg Festival as the centrepiece of its celebrations for the 250th anniversary of Mozart’s birth. It was hailed as a “masterpiece” (Bloomberg News) and was the hit of the 2006 Salzburg Festival – revived repeatedly in successive seasons since. German director Claus Guth is renowned for his innovative productions of classic operas and for this Figaro he draws visual and thematic inspiration from the films of Ingmar Bergman and the plays of Ibsen and Strindberg, while fusing stylized gesture and choreography with Mozart’s score to deliver a “shattering, unforgettable” (The Guardian) account of the elemental forces of human nature at play in this opera.

COC Music Director Johannes Debus is at the musical helm of the COC’s entire winter season as he conducts The Marriage of Figaro in addition to Siegfried, leading the COC Orchestra and Chorus through a score widely considered a testament to Mozart’s genius. In Figaro, Mozart writes musical moments of unprecedented emotional impact and sensuality, delivering an opera that fuses comedy, tragedy and poetry to create one of the smartest and sharpest explorations of human relationships in all theatre. Assistant conductor Jordan de Souza steps into the orchestra pit for Maestro Debus on February 23 and 25.

A sparkling cast has been assembled for this magnificent, witty farce that finds Figaro and Susanna’s wedding in jeopardy due to the wandering eye of their employer, the Count. The ensuing intrigue and mistaken identities lead all the characters to experience intense human passions as they’re torn between morality, desire and impulse.

Austrian bass-baritone Josef Wagner, praised as “energetic and forceful as Figaro” (Calgary Herald) in his recent North American debut with Calgary Opera, makes his first COC appearance in the title role. His love, Susanna, is internationally acclaimed Canadian soprano Jane Archibald, praised in her most recent outing with the COC in 2015’s Don Giovanni as “thrilling from first note to last, with a sweep and an edge that made her presence on stage aurally riveting” (Globe and Mail).

Renowned Canadian soprano Erin Wall, last heard at the COC in 2012’s Love from Afar, is the Countess She brings her “soprano of radiance, pristine beauty and tingling top notes” (The Guardian) to a role that explores the full range of emotion, from sadness to humour to forgiveness. The Count is sung by internationally acclaimed Canadian baritone Russell Braun, returning to the COC after his intense, critically acclaimed and Dora Award-nominated portrayal of Don Giovanni last season.

American mezzo-soprano Emily Fons, one of opera’s rising stars, makes her COC debut as the mischievous Cherubino. Acclaimed Canadian tenor Michael Colvin, who delighted COC audiences with his Dr. Caius in 2014’s Falstaff, sings the role of gossiping music teacher Basilio. Canadian bass Robert Pomakov, last with the COC in 2013’s Peter Grimes, returns as the vengeful Bartolo. American mezzo-soprano Helene Schneiderman makes her COC debut as Marcellina, Bartolo’s housekeeper and partner-in-crime.

Canadian baritone Doug MacNaughton is Antonio, Ensemble Studio tenor Jean-Philippe Fortier-Lazure is Don Curzio and Ensemble Studio graduate soprano Sasha Djihanian is Antonio’s daughter, Barbarina. German actor Uli Kirsch is Cherubim, a silent character introduced by Guth often seen manipulating the other characters.

Set and costume design is by Christian Schmidt, who situates the action within the main hall of a 19th-century mansion with the characters’s wardrobe reflecting a more modern era through 20th-century dresses and suits. Lighting design is by Olaf Winter with video design by Andi A. Müller. Choreography is by Ramses Sigl.

The Marriage of Figaro is sung in Italian with English SURTITLESTM. The opera was last performed by the COC in 2007.


*ENSEMBLE STUDIO PERFORMANCE OF THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO ON FEBRUARY 22, 2016
The young singers of the Canadian Opera Company’s Ensemble Studio perform Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro on February 22, 2016. For casting, please visit the COC website at coc.ca. Tickets are priced at $25 and $55.


TICKET INFORMATION

Single tickets for The Marriage of Figaro range from $50 – $435 and are 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: Title Sponsor of Pre-Performance Opera Chats and Student Dress Rehearsals.

Sun Life Financial: Presenting Sponsor of SURTITLES™.

Mercedes Benz: Official Automotive Sponsor of the COC at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.

TD Bank Group: Presenting Sponsor Opera Under 30 and Operanation

TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite Privilege*: Preferred Credit Card.

The COC Ensemble Studio, underwritten in part by Peter M. Deeb, RBC Foundation 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, the Hal Jackman Foundation and other generous 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 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 its award-winning website, coc.ca.

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For more information, please contact:
Jennifer Pugsley, Media Relations Manager, tel: 416-306-2303, e-mail: jenniferp@coc.ca

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12/8/2015

COC SCALES OPERATIC HEIGHTS OF HEROISM AND PASSION WITH SIEGFRIED DIRECTED BY FRANÇOIS GIRARD

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“This Siegfried was a fascinating thing to witness and gorgeous to hear”
(Globe and Mail)

“will doubtless continue to dazzle its viewers”
(Toronto Star)

“awe-inspiring sets”
(Toronto Sun)

“this Siegfried is psychologically rich and mysterious music theatre”
(NOW Magazine)

“Siegfried dazzles as soon as the curtain goes up”
(Eye Weekly)

TorontoCanadian Opera Company audiences will experience the heights of heroism and passion this winter when the third instalment of Richard Wagner’s epic Ring Cycle, Siegfried, returns to the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. Siegfried’s heroic journey reveals the drives and desires of gods and mortals in a story of greed, fear and self-discovery, told through a powerful and evocative score, and is brought to life in a critically acclaimed production by renowned Canadian director François Girard and celebrated Toronto-born designer Michael Levine, conducted by COC Music Director Johannes Debus. Siegfried runs for seven performances on January 23, 27, 30, February, 2, 5, 11 and 14, 2016.

Wagner’s Ring Cycle is commonly described as “the Everest of opera.” The largest work in the history of Western music, the Ring Cycle includes four operas, Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung, comprising approximately 16 hours of some of the most complex and riveting music in the operatic repertoire. Siegfried features some of the greatest music in the whole Ring Cycle, as the titular hero slays a dragon, confronts the gods, and braves a ring of fire in his journey to save the sleep-enchanted Valkyrie, Brünnhilde.

Siegfried is the ultimate story of a hero’s path to self-discovery. Drawing inspiration from Siegfried’s internal battles and struggle for self-understanding, Girard and Levine have conceived a work that reflects a memoryscape and a psychological fairytale. Lighting is by Dora Award-winning designer David Finn, and award-winning Canadian Donna Feore joins the creative team as the choreographer.

Johannes Debus conducts his first Siegfried with the COC. With this production, he leads the 106-piece COC Orchestra through an electrifying score of unparalleled musical storytelling: from Siegfried’s comic Forging Song in Act I to the lyrical forest murmurs in Act II to one of Wagner’s most blissful duets in Act III when Brünnhilde awakes from her sleep and declares her love for Siegfried.

In German tenor Stefan Vinke the COC has one of the finest Siegfrieds in the world. Described as “huge of voice, unflagging of stamina, imaginative and energetic on the stage” (Seattle Times), Vinke belongs to an elite group of tenors who consistently sing the complete dramatic repertoire of Richard Wagner. Few roles in opera are more daunting than Siegfried with many saying it is almost impossible to sing. It demands a tenor to scale extreme vocal heights, possess unwavering stamina in a marathon opera running 240 minutes, and demonstrate a nuanced reading of one of opera’s most introspective characters. Vinke makes his Canadian debut in this legendary role.

Vinke is equally matched by the powerhouse American soprano Christine Goerke, heralded for her “gale-force power and sheen” (Wall Street Journal). She returns to the COC as the mighty Valkyrie Brünnhilde; her company debut in 2015’s Die Walküre met with unabashed critical and popular acclaim as her “gleaming tones sliced through the glittering orchestra” (New York Times) and showing “she possess[ed] everything a great Brünnhilde must have: dignity, stature, and a voice of molten gold” (Toronto Star).

Austrian Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke, considered one of the most important character tenors on the operatic world stage, makes his Canadian debut as the sly Nibelung-dwarf Mime, who raised Siegfried from birth and plans to use the young hero to secure the famed ring for himself. Acclaimed British baritone Christopher Purves makes his COC debut as Mime’s brother Alberich, whose theft of the Rhinegold set in motion the Ring Cycle’s epic chain of events.

American contralto Meredith Arwady, who made her COC debut as Death in 2011’s The Nightingale and Other Short Fables at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, now brings her rich vocal intensity and captivating stage presence to the COC as the Earth Goddess, Erda. Acclaimed American bass-baritone Alan Held, one of the finest singer-actors on the stage today, was last heard as Balstrode in 2013’s Peter Grimes and returns to the COC as Wotan/The Wanderer.

Canadian bass Phillip Ens, most recently at the COC as Sparafucile in 2011’s Rigoletto, reprises the role of Fafner the dragon, the current possessor of the Rhinegold, which he sang for the company in 2005 and 2006. COC Ensemble Studio graduate soprano Jacqueline Woodley, last heard with the company as Papagena in 2011’s Ensemble Studio performance of The Magic Flute, is the Forest Bird who helps Siegfried locate Fafner’s treasure and see through Mime’s deceitful ways. Actor George Molnar is the Bear, a silent role created by Girard.

Siegfried is sung in German with English SURTITLESTM. The opera was last performed by the COC in 2006 at the opening of the Four Seasons Centre as part of the first Canadian production of Richard Wagner’s Ring Cycle. The COC premiered the Girard-directed Siegfried in 2005, having previously presented Siegfried in 1972.

TICKET INFORMATION

Single tickets for Siegfried range from $60 – $435 and are 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

This production of Siegfried was originally made possible by Kolter Communities.

BMO Financial Group: Title Sponsor of Pre-Performance Opera Chats and Student Dress Rehearsals.

Sun Life Financial: Presenting Sponsor of SURTITLES™.

Mercedes Benz: Official Automotive Sponsor of the COC at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.

TD Bank Group: Presenting Sponsor Opera Under 30 and Operanation

TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite Privilege*: Preferred Credit Card.

The COC Ensemble Studio, underwritten in part by Peter M. Deeb, RBC Foundation 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, the Hal Jackman Foundation and other generous 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 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 its award-winning website, coc.ca.

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For more information, please contact:
Jennifer Pugsley, Media Relations Manager, tel: 416-306-2303, e-mail: jenniferp@coc.ca

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

11/12/2015

CANADIAN OPERA COMPANY WELCOMES FIVE PLAYERS TO 2016 COC ORCHESTRA ACADEMY

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Toronto – The Canadian Opera Company Orchestra Academy returns for its third year on January 6, 2016, welcoming five student musicians to its annual three-week intensive training program. New to the 2016 Orchestra Academy are additional public performances with the COC Orchestra and opera singers from the COC, and masterclasses and private sessions with opera singers, production personnel and visiting music staff.

 

Led by COC Music Director Johannes Debus, and developed in collaboration with The Glenn Gould School at the Royal Conservatory of Music and the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Music, the COC Orchestra Academy offers its student musicians professional insight and experience in their pursuit of a career in an opera orchestra.

The five student players who join the Academy this year were selected from a pool of 12 musicians who auditioned in October 2015 for Debus, COC Orchestra Academy Director Nina Draganic and members of the COC Orchestra: GGS cellist Drew Comstock, GGS violinist Hua-Chu Huang, GGS violinist Yada Lee, GGS bassist Doug Ohashi and UofT violist Meagan Turner.

In joining the COC Orchestra Academy, these five student musicians will be mentored by players from the orchestra. The COC Orchestra mentors for 2016 are violinists Marie Bérard and Anne Armstrong (Hua-Chu Huang); violinist James Aylesworth (Yada Lee), violist Keith Hamm (Meagan Turner), cellist Paul Widner (Drew Comstock); and bassist Alan Molitz (Doug Ohashi).

As part of the Academy experience, students are featured in multiple public performances. This year those appearances include playing with the COC Orchestra at the company’s 2016/2017 season launch event on January 13 and a recital in the COC’s Free Concert Series in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre on January 21, performing Fauré’s La bonne chanson with COC Ensemble Studio tenor Jean-Philippe Fortier-Lazure and Mendelssohn’s Octet with their COC Orchestra mentors. Academy students also join the COC Orchestra in the pit of the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts on January 23 for opening night of the COC’s winter production of Wagner’s Siegfried, playing one of the most complex and stirring scores in the operatic canon.

“It’s wonderful to see how we’ve grown the COC Orchestra Academy since it began in 2014. Every year we build it up just a little more, moving from strength to strength,” says COC Music Director Johannes Debus. “This year we’ve added the season launch event to the program and we’ve been fortunate enough to have interest from great artists like Christine Goerke and Russell Braun on how they can get involved with the Orchestra Academy. These experiences, at such an early point in these musicians’ careers, are the opportunities of a lifetime.”

In addition to performing at the COC’s annual season launch event for the first time, other new opportunities introduced for the 2016 Academy include: a concert performance with a member of the COC Ensemble Studio; private sessions with opera singers performing on the mainstage as well as with production personnel; and coachings/masterclasses with singers from the mainstage and visiting music staff. Among the opera singers who will be working with the 2016 Academy musicians are superstar American soprano Christine Goerke, who stars in Siegfried, and internationally acclaimed Canadian baritone Russell Braun, featured in the COC’s winter production of The Marriage of Figaro.

Academy students are exposed to all aspects of playing as part of an opera orchestra. They experience how an operatic performance comes together, how to prepare their part of a score, and the development and improvement of an orchestra over the course of rehearsals and performances. Additional opportunities include:

• studying rehearsal and performance etiquette, as well as developing the awareness, co-ordination, reaction, flexibility and listening skills required to play in an opera orchestra
• learning endurance techniques and how to focus for long periods of time
• gaining an understanding of sound production, articulation and blending as well as tuning within the orchestra, the section and with the singers, and the subtleties of balancing sound intensity
• studying different styles and levels of expressiveness in musicianship

The COC Orchestra Academy is an extra-curricular program that launched in January 2014 as a pilot program with the intention of growing the initiative to include more students and members of the COC Orchestra. There is no official credit attached to the students’ participation. Members of the COC Orchestra participate in the COC Orchestra Academy voluntarily.

2016 COC Orchestra Academy Members
Cellist Drew Comstock began cello lessons at the age of four. He completed his undergraduate studies at the New England Conservatory of Music, where he studied with Yeesun Kim, and recently finished his Master of Music at McGill University where he worked with Brian Manker. He has performed in masterclasses for Ralph Kirshbaum, Phillipe Muller, Laurence Lesser, and Raphael Pidoux. As a chamber musician, he has worked with members of the Takács, Alban Berg, and Miró string quartets. He has also performed with Boston’s critically acclaimed Discovery Ensemble, the North Carolina Symphony, and the McGill Chamber Orchestra. Comstock is currently pursuing an artist diploma at The Glenn Gould School under Desmond Hoebig and Andrés Díaz.

Violinist Hua-Chu Huang was born in Taiwan and moved to Canada in 2007. Since starting the violin at age nine, he has won numerous prizes from national competitions in Taiwan, the Nova Scotia Youth Orchestra Concerto competition, and recently placed silver in the 2015 Canadian Music Competition. Huang has performed as a featured soloist in the Dalhousie Concerto Night as well as with the Chebucto Symphony Orchestra and Symphony Nova Scotia. He studied with Philippe Djokic at Dalhousie University, where he received his bachelor’s degree in violin performance. Huang is currently pursuing an artist diploma under Paul Kantor and Barry Shiffman at The Glenn Gould School.

Violinist Yada Lee has won numerous competitions and awards. She has performed concerti with Mannes Orchestra at Alice Tully Hall, New York, as well as with orchestras in Thailand and around the world. She has been a member of Verbier Festival Orchestra and Bangkok Symphony Orchestra and has served as concertmaster and principal for both Oberlin and Mannes orchestras. Lee holds a master’s degree from Mannes School of Music and a bachelor’s degree in violin performance from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. She is currently at The Glenn Gould School, studying with Paul Kantor, Barry Shiffman, Laurie Smukler and David Bowlin.

Bassist Doug Ohashi is currently completing the final year of his artist diploma at The Glenn Gould School, studying with Jeffrey Beecher, principal bassist of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Ohashi aspires to perform in a professional orchestra and has participated in several training programs to serve that goal, including the National Youth Orchestra of Canada and Orford Academy. He is a recipient of the James Craig Opera Orchestra Award.

Praised for her imagination and musical instinct, Toronto-based violist Meagan Turner recently completed her undergraduate studies as a scholarship student at the University of Toronto. Turner has held principal positions with numerous orchestras and performed in masterclasses for renowned artists including Henning Kraggerud, Atar Arad, and the Brentano and Belcea quartets. In addition to her studies at UofT, Turner has studied chamber music with the St. Lawrence, Cecilia, and New Orford quartets and will continue her orchestral training at the New York String Orchestra Seminar this December. Turner is currently pursuing an advanced certificate in performance at UofT, in the studio of Eric Nowlin.

Acknowledgements
The COC Ensemble Studio, underwritten in part by Peter M. Deeb, RBC Foundation 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, the Hal Jackman Foundation and other generous 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 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 its award-winning website, coc.ca.

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For more information or to request photographs, please contact:

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

 

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