COC Media Releases


Comedy, Romance and Drama in COC Production of Strauss's Madcap Melodrama Ariadne auf Naxos

Toronto, Ontario – The Canadian Opera Company’s spring 2010/2011 season continues with one of Richard Strauss’s most brilliant operas, Ariadne auf Naxos. The legendary Sir Andrew Davis conducts the COC Orchestra in this masterful madcap melodrama, performed by a sublime cast led by Canadian stars, soprano Adrianne Pieczonka and tenor Richard Margison and staged by award-winning Australian director Neil Armfield. Ariadne auf Naxos runs for eight performances at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts on April 30, May 3, 12, 15, 18, 21, 27 and 29, 2011, and is sung in German with English SURTITLES™.

The backstage antics that make up the Prologue of Strauss’s opera-within-an-opera are just a precursor to the second half’s onstage expressions of love, loss and spiritual transformation. When an opera company and a commedia dell’arte group are forced to perform the opera “Ariadne auf Naxos” together, comedy, romance and drama clash as the rival companies pick up the tale from where the Greek myth leaves off, with Ariadne abandoned on an island, longing for death.

Singing the role of the opera company’s Prima Donna as well as the role of Ariadne is the soprano critics have called “one of the most important artists working today” (Seen and Heard International), Adrianne Pieczonka. She returns to the COC in a role that has brought her great acclaim in Munich and Vienna. Richard Margison returns as the Tenor/Bacchus, one of the most demanding roles in the tenor repertoire and one that has brought him great success at the Metropolitan Opera. Exciting young Canadian coloratura Jane Archibald is the leader of the commedia dell’arte troupe, Zerbinetta, a role which has earned her ecstatic reviews across Europe. Renowned British mezzo-soprano Alice Coote makes her COC debut as the Composer, a role in which she has been called “simply electrifying” (The Daily Telegraph).

Sir Andrew Davis, Lyric Opera of Chicago’s music director and principal conductor as well as conductor laureate of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, makes his much-anticipated COC conducting debut guiding Strauss’s beautiful, lush melodic score. Joining Davis in leading the creative team is multiple award-winning director Neil Armfield, last with the COC for 2009’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and 2001’s Billy Budd.

Several graduates of the COC Ensemble Studio return to the company with this production: baritone Peter Barrett, fresh from performances in the COC’s acclaimed presentation of The Nightingale and Other Short Fables at BAM and a Metropolitan Opera debut in Don Pasquale, is the Harlequin; mezzo-soprano Lauren Segal, Nancy T’sang in the COC’s acclaimed Nixon in China, is Dryad; and soprano Teiya Kasahara, also heard in the COC’s The Nightingale and Other Short Fables at BAM, is Echo. Baritone Doug MacNaughton, Elviro in 1999’s Xerxes, returns as a Lackey, and tenor Roger Honeywell, last with the COC in 2005’s Macbeth and garnering acclaim across the U.S. for performances with Lyric Opera of Chicago and Glimmerglass Opera as well as the opera companies of Philadelphia, St. Louis and Minnesota, is an Officer.

Current members of the Ensemble Studio tenor Christopher Enns, bass Michael Uloth, soprano Simone Osborne and baritone Adrian Kramer – all of whom won over audiences with their recent performances in the COC’s The Magic Flute – take to the mainstage in supporting roles as Scaramuccio, Truffaldino, Naiad and the Wig-Maker, respectively.

Rounding out the cast are tenor John Easterlin, Monostatos in this winter’s The Magic Flute, as Brighella and the Dancing Master and baritone Richard Stilwell, the “best type of American singing actor,” (New York Times), as the Music Master.

With Ariadne auf Naxos, Neil Armfield reunites with A Midsummer Night’s Dream’s set and costume designer Dale Ferguson to explore the emotional core found beneath this opera’s layers of comedy and irony, using elements of realism and abstraction to visually distinguish the two halves of this piece. Paul Woodfield recreates Tim Mitchell’s original lighting design, and choreography is by Denni Sayers, most recently the movement director for the 2009 production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This production of Ariadne auf Naxos comes to the COC courtesy of Welsh National Opera and was first staged by Armfield in 2004.

Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos was first performed in Stuttgart in 1912. Following some revisions, a second version premiered in Vienna in 1916, becoming the standard repertory version performed to this day.


Tickets for Ariadne auf Naxos are available online at, by calling 416-363-8231 or in person at the
Four Seasons Centre Box Office (145 Queen St. W., Toronto). Ticket prices range from $62 to $281, plus applicable taxes.

NEW THIS SEASON: Standing Room
Standing Room tickets for only $12 go on sale at 11 a.m. on the morning of each performance at the
Four Seasons Centre Box Office. Limit of two tickets per person. Subject to availability.

Young People
Special young people’s tickets are priced from $31 to $95, plus applicable taxes. These ticket prices apply to those who are 15 years of age or under, accompanied by and sitting next to an adult.

Opera for a New Age
Patrons between the ages of 16 and 29 may purchase $22 Opera for a New Age tickets as of Saturday, April 9, 2011 at 10 a.m., online at or in person at the Four Seasons Centre Box Office. Opera for a New Age is presented by TD Bank Financial Group.

Student Group Tickets
Student group tickets are $22 per student and may be purchased by calling 416-306-2356.

Rush Seats
Rush seats, starting at $22 and subject to availability, go on sale at 11 a.m. on the morning of each performance at the Four Seasons Centre Box Office.


Presenting Sponsor of SURTITLES™: Sun Life Financial

Official Automotive Sponsor of the COC at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts:
Jaguar Land Rover Canada

Broadcast Partner: CBC Radio 2

Official Media Sponsors: CTV and The Globe and Mail

Digital Marketing Sponsor: Delvinia

The COC 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 supported by the Government of Canada through the Department of Canadian Heritage, RBC Foundation and other generous donors.


BMO Financial Group Pre-Performance Opera Chats
Free to ticket holders, the COC offers 20-minute introductions to the opera and its themes in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts 45 minutes prior to every performance.

OPERA 101: Ariadne auf Naxos with Richard Margison and Jane Archibald
The COC’s popular FREE series designed for people new to opera, Opera 101, takes an enthusiastic look at the COC’s production of Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos on April 20, 2011 at 7:30 p.m. at the Drake Hotel (1150 Queen St. W., at Queen and Beaconsfield). Opera 101 host Brent Bambury (CBC Radio) will moderate a lively discussion and question-and-answer period with two members of the Ariadne auf Naxos cast: legendary tenor Richard Margison, who sings the Tenor/Bacchus, and exciting young coloratura Jane Archibald, who plays the role of Zerbinetta. Audience members will have the opportunity to win prize packs with ballots drawn at the end of the evening. Visit for more information.

The Opera Exchange Series: Ariadne auf Naxos from A to Z
In collaboration with the Munk School for Global Affairs and the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto, the COC concludes the 2010/2011 Opera Exchange Series with Ariadne auf Naxos from A to Z on May 14, 2011, from 9 – 11 a.m. at UofT’s Walter Hall (27 King’s College Circle). The final instalment of the season’s three symposia, Ariadne auf Naxos from A to Z will provide an in-depth and entertaining look at Richard Strauss’s masterpiece, Ariadne auf Naxos. Participants will hear from local and international academics, who will lead explorations and analysis on the themes and music of Ariadne auf Naxos. A panel discussion with members of the COC’s Ariadne auf Naxos production, including Canadian star soprano Adrianne Pieczonka, who sings the title role, and renowned conductor Sir Andrew Davis, will close the event. Tickets are $20 per person and can be purchased at or by contacting COC Ticket Services at 416-363-8231. Discounts are available for UofT students and faculty.

Ariadne auf Naxos Interactive Features on
The COC hosts a podcast series sponsored by Decca: The Opera Label. Hosted by the COC’s Gianna Wichelow and Gianmarco Segato, the podcasts explore the opera and its background, and feature interviews with singers and members of the creative team. All podcasts are available for downloading or streaming

The Canadian Opera Company’s award-winning website,, contains information on all productions and programs and allows visitors to enjoy a wide variety of interactive features available for downloading and streaming.

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. The COC celebrates its 61st anniversary during the 2010/2011 season. 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 COC, please visit its award-winning website,

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For more information or to request production photographs, please contact Jennifer Pugsley, Media Relations Manager, tel: 416-306-2303, e-mail:

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