Toronto, Ontario – The power of love takes centre stage at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts this May when the Canadian Opera Company premieres its first production of an opera by Christoph Willibald Gluck – the masterpiece Orfeo ed Euridice. Canadian Robert Carsen, one of the most prominent names in the international opera scene today, makes his much-anticipated return to the COC to direct his highly-acclaimed production. Carsen is joined by renowned opera and concert conductor Harry Bicket and opera stars American countertenor Lawrence Zazzo and Canadian soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian. Orfeo ed Euridice is sung in Italian with English SURTITLES™, and runs for eight performances on May 8, 11, 14, 17, 20, 24, 26 and 28, 2011.
Orfeo has lost his wife Euridice and goes – literally – to hell and back to find her in this operatic adaptation of the Greek myth. When Orfeo is granted permission by the god of love to lead Euridice out of the underworld, it is with one stipulation: he cannot look back upon his beloved's face until they reach Earth. The resulting tale in which love confounds death, set to a score of unsurpassed beauty, is one of opera's greatest masterpieces. Equally momentous is the production that brings Orfeo ed Euridice to the COC. Carsen's staging has been described as "magical" and a "revelation on several levels" (Chicago Sun-Times) as well as "a vivid demonstration of why this exquisite work has endured in the international repertory for centuries"(Opera News) at its Lyric Opera of Chicago premiere in 2006.
Starring in the title roles are two of the most outstanding singers of their generation: American Lawrence Zazzo, a powerful Oberon in the COC's 2009 A Midsummer Night's Dream and a singer described as "maybe the best countertenor now on the stage" (Gramophone); and Canadian soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian, who gave a captivating performance of Euridice in the Chicago premiere of this production and recently charmed Toronto audiences in this season's The Magic Flute. Joining Zazzo and Bayrakdarian is COC Ensemble Studio soprano Ambur Braid as Amore, the god of love. Braid's vocal agility recently wowed audiences and critics alike when she sang the Queen of the Night in the special Ensemble Studio performance of The Magic Flute.
Robert Carsen last appeared with the COC as the director of Mario and the Magician in 1992. His operatic achievements have been recognized internationally with the world's leading opera houses, including the Metropolitan Opera, Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Gran Teatre del Liceu, La Scala and Opéra national de Paris, and his directorial work in theatre has graced stages in Italy, France, the U.K., and the U.S., as well as been seen in musicals for London's West End. Harry Bicket, one of the world's foremost Baroque and classical music specialists and the conductor of last season's Idomeneo, returns to lead the COC Orchestra and Chorus. The sets and costumes for this "pristine visualization of Gluck's pure, straightforward music"(Opera News) are by German designer Tobias Hoheisel, and the lighting is conceived by Carsen working in tandem with Belgium's Peter Van Praet.
Orfeo ed Euridice is the first of two Gluck operas that director Robert Carsen will stage for the COC. Carsen will return to the company in fall 2011 with his production of Iphigenia in Tauris, starring Susan Graham. Hoheisel and Van Praet will once again be part of Carsen's creative team, as set and costume designer and co-lighting designer, respectively.
With Orfeo ed Euridice, Gluck created one of the most sublime operas of all time and revolutionized the art form. Breaking with the conventions of the time, Gluck honed his music to a beautiful simplicity, taking iconic figures from mythology and transforming them into very real people, placing powerful emotions at the opera's core.
Since its well-received premiere in Vienna in 1762, Orfeo ed Euridice's popularity has steadily increased. There have been approximately 60 operas written on the subject of the Orpheus myth, mostly during the 17th and 18th centuries. Gluck's is the most well-known.
Tickets for Orfeo ed Euridice are available online at coc.ca, 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.
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 coc.ca 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, 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.
COC ANCILLARY EVENTS AND INFORMATION
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.
Orfeo ed Euridice Interactive Features on coc.ca
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 at coc.ca.
The Canadian Opera Company's award-winning website, coc.ca, 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, coc.ca
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