COC Media Releases

3/29/2016

CANADIAN OPERA COMPANY LAUNCHES OPERA ACCESS FOR NEW CANADIANS

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COC JOINS INSTITUTE FOR CANADIAN CITIZENSHIP’S CULTURAL ACCESS PASS

Toronto – The Canadian Opera Company is proud to announce the creation of Opera Access for New Canadians, a community outreach and engagement initiative to make the COC’s BMO Financial Group Student Dress Rehearsals and select performances accessible to new Canadian citizens and newcomers to Canada, including immigrants and refugees. The first phase of Opera Access for New Canadians begins this spring with the COC joining the Institute for Canadian Citizenship’s Cultural Access Pass (CAP) program, which offers new Canadian citizens one year of complimentary admission to more than 1,200 cultural attractions across the country.

“We are proud of providing a cultural space in this country where people are free to gather, create art and express opinions–freedoms not granted in many places around the world,” says COC General Director Alexander Neef. “The Opera Access program is a celebration of that freedom and a way for us at the COC to welcome new Canadians to our community and introduce them to our art form.”

The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, founder of the ICC, says “this new partnership with the COC provides a unique behind-the-scenes look into Canada’s premiere opera company. We are delighted.” Charlie Foran, CEO of the ICC, explains, “Our Cultural Access Pass has now grown to the point where we can offer CAP members experiences in the performing arts, as well as in cultural institutions and federal and provincial parks.”

The ICC will work with the COC to allocate and distribute dress rehearsal tickets to its CAP membership. A maximum of 40 free tickets will be set aside to every COC dress rehearsal as part of the opera company’s enrollment in the ICC’s CAP program. In addition to attending a dress rehearsal, participants will sit-in on one of the COC’s BMO Financial Group Pre-Performance Opera Chats and receive an informal tour of the COC’s opera house, the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. The first COC productions to be accessed through the opera company’s involvement in CAP will be Carmen and Maometto II, in performance at the Four Seasons Centre in April and May 2016.

New citizens who have received their Canadian citizenship within the past year can register for a Cultural Access Pass. The pass is valid for one year from the date of obtaining citizenship. For more information and eligibility requirements, visit www.icc-icc.ca, e-mail cap@icc-icc.ca or call 1-888-359-6998.

The creation of Opera Access for New Canadians is the formal implementation of a COC initiative first mentioned by COC General Director Alexander Neef from the stage of the Four Seasons Centre on opening night of the company’s presentation of The Marriage of Figaro in February 2016. The COC subsequently hosted small groups of Syrian and Ethiopian refugees at performances of The Marriage of Figaro, facilitated by the ICC, Lifeline Syria and The Ripple Refugee Project. As Opera Access for New Canadians develops, additional partnerships will be announced that allow for increased accessibility to opera dress rehearsals and select performances for newcomers to Canada, including immigrants and refugees.

About the Institute for Canadian Citizenship
The ICC was founded in 2006 by the Rt. Hon. Adrienne Clarkson and John Ralston Saul to welcome new Canadian citizens and foster active citizenship for all Canadians. For more information, visit icc-icc.ca.

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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3/7/2016

A SEDUCTIVE SPRING AT CANADIAN OPERA COMPANY WITH BIZET’S WORLD FAMOUS OPERA, CARMEN

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Toronto – Returning to the Canadian Opera Company stage this spring is one of the world’s most famous operas, Georges Bizet’s Carmen. Canadian director Joel Ivany, of Toronto’s cutting-edge collective Against the Grain Theatre, brings a fresh look to this masterpiece of lyric theatre when it comes to the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. Italian conductor Paolo Carignani is at the helm of Bizet’s passionate score. Carmen was last presented by the COC in 2010 and returns to the Four Seasons Centre for 13 performances on April 12, 17, 20, 23, 28, 30, May 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 2016. Carmen is sung in French with English SURTITLESTM.

Carmen is a highly charged melodrama about an irresistible gypsy, Carmen, and her seduction of a young soldier. At the time of the opera’s premiere in Paris in 1875, it was condemned in the press as too immoral to be staged; Carmen marked the first time in opera that a female character could flout morality and still remain the heroine of the work. It is now consistently ranked as one of the most produced operas in the world.

Internationally renowned conductor Paolo Carignani, last in the COC’s orchestra pit for Tosca in 2012, returns to lead the COC Orchestra, Chorus and an exciting cast through a tantalizing score of popular melodies. From Carmen’s alluring teasing in “Habanera” and the swaggering machismo of Escamillo’s “Toreador Song” to the desperate pleading of Don José’s “Flower Song” and Micaëla’s innocence and quiet strength in the aria “Je dis que rien ne m’épouvante,” the music drives the drama and action of Carmen forward and lays bare the deep well of emotions at play between Bizet’s characters. The end result leaves no question as to the opera’s universal appeal.

Joel Ivany makes his COC mainstage directing debut in this revival of the COC’s production of Carmen, which premiered in 2005 and was last presented in 2010. He brings to the work a fresh new staging already hailed as a “visceral treat” (Vancouver Sun) offering a “human take that engages and entertains as much as it provokes” (Vancouver Straight) when Vancouver Opera presented the COC production in fall 2014 with Ivany directing. His staging is set against the colourful, sunbaked landscape of 1940s Latin America with sets and costumes designed by Michael Yeargan and François St-Aubin, respectively. New to the production’s 2016 revival are two up-and-coming, innovative Toronto-based artists who frequently collaborate with Ivany: lighting designer Jason Hand and set and costume design co-ordinator Camellia Koo, making their COC mainstage debuts.

Two mezzo-sopranos making a specialty of the lead role bring Carmen to life at the COC: Georgian Anita Rachvelishvili (April 12, 17, 23, 30, May 4, 6, 13) and France’s Clémentine Margaine (April 20, 28, May 8, 10, 12, 15). Rachvelishvili returns to the COC after 2014’s Don Quichotte and 2010’s Carmen to bring her “smoldering, earthy sexuality” (New York Times) once more to the Four Seasons Centre. Internationally renowned, she has sung Carmen at the Metropolitan Opera, La Scala, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Seattle Opera, San Francisco Opera and Royal Opera House Covent Garden, among others. Margaine has been hailed “a dream voice for the passionate but mercurial Gypsy” (Dallas Morning News), singing Carmen with Dallas Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Teatro dell’Opera di Roma and Washington National Opera. After her Canadian debut with the COC, she goes on to sing Carmen in future seasons at the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Opera Bastille in Paris.

As Carmen’s jealous lover, Don José, the COC welcomes the return of two tenors: American Russell Thomas and Ensemble Studio graduate David Pomeroy. One of the most exciting vocal and dramatic talents on the international opera and concert scene, described as “nothing short of sensational” (The Telegraph), Thomas follows up his star turn in the COC’s 2012 production of The Tales of Hoffmann with a role debut performance as the young soldier who attempts to tame Carmen. Pomeroy returns to the COC after recent performances in 2012’s Die Fledermaus and 2009’s Madama Butterfly. He’s been called a “magnetic” Don José by Belgian Operaguide, his voice “fresh…with a particularly gratifying bloom” (Philadelphia Inquirer), reaching “the demanding high notes with smooth ease...totally compelling as a ruined man” (Winnipeg Free Press).

In the role of the toreador Escamillo are the powerful voices of American bass-baritone Christian Van Horn and American baritone Zachary Nelson. They make welcome returns to the COC after recent company outings: Van Horn for his performances in 2013’s La Bohème and 2012’s Tosca, and Nelson for 2015’s Don Giovanni.

Sharing the role of the peasant girl Micaëla are two standout Canadian sopranos. COC Ensemble Studio graduate Simone Osborne returns to the COC, after 2014’s Falstaff, on the heels of a 14-city U.S. concert tour with the Metropolitan Opera's Rising Stars Concert Series. Osborne is joined by emerging opera talent, Ensemble Studio soprano Karine Boucher, whose “gorgeous, womanly voice” (Schmopera) recently sang Susanna in the Ensemble Studio performance of The Marriage of Figaro.

Rounding out the cast are former and current members of the COC Ensemble Studio. Bass Alain Coulombe is Zuniga, Don José’s captain, and baritone Peter Barrett sings the role of Moralès, an officer under Zuniga’s command. Mezzo-soprano Charlotte Burrage and soprano Sasha Djihanian are Carmen’s gypsy friends Mercédès and Frasquita. Ensemble Studio baritone Iain MacNeil and Ensemble Studio tenor Jean-Philippe Fortier-Lazure are the smugglers, Le Dancaïre and Le Remendado.

TICKET INFORMATION
Single tickets for Carmen 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
KPMG: Production Sponsor
BMO Financial Group: Title Sponsor of Pre-Performance Opera Chats and Student Dress Rehearsals
Sun Life Financial: Presenting Sponsor of SURTITLES™
Mercedes-Benz Canada: 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

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

3/7/2016

COC PREMIERES OPERATIC RARITY, MAOMETTO II, WITH SUPERSTAR BASS-BARITONE LUCA PISARONI IN TITLE ROLE

Read the PDF version here.

Toronto – The Canadian Opera Company closes its 2015/2016 season with the company premiere of Gioachino Rossini’s rarely performed grand bel canto opera, Maometto II. Superstar Italian bass-baritone Luca Pisaroni makes a highly anticipated COC debut in the title role in a new COC production by acclaimed American director David Alden, lauded as a “thrilling [piece of] experiential theatre” (Opera News). Renowned maestro Harry Bicket in the orchestra pit conducts this operatic rarity. Maometto II is sung in Italian with English SURTITLESTM and runs for seven performances at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts on April 29, May 1, 3, 5, 7, 11, 14, 2016.

Rossini’s comic operas – The Barber of Seville, Cinderella and The Italian Girl in Algiers – have long delighted audiences while many of his more serious operatic efforts faded from the repertoire. Maometto II, a serious work, disappeared in its original 1820 Naples form until receiving a triumphant return in David Alden’s production for Santa Fe Opera in 2012, now produced by the COC.

Maometto II represents an inspired and radical break from the opera seria tradition of its time, with expanded orchestration, unusually through-composed music and unpredictably paced drama. The result is a theatrically and musically adventurous work in which Rossini unleashes his full arsenal of vocal fireworks. Leading the COC Orchestra, Chorus and cast through this operatic drama is British conductor Harry Bicket, last with the COC for 2014’s Hercules, and noted for his interpretation of Baroque and classical repertoire.

This production of Maometto II also marks the highly anticipated return of one of the world’s most influential and prolific directors of opera, American David Alden, who gave COC audiences a celebrated presentation of Lucia di Lammermoor in 2013. In Maometto II’s historical tale of the great Turkish sultan, Maometto, and his quest to conquer the Holy Roman Empire, Alden’s staging explores the work’s enduring relevancies; the most timeless of all being the personal struggles born out of the conflict of war.

Alden, along with sets and costumes by award-winning British designer Jon Morrell, has brought the opera’s action forward from its historical 15th-century origins to the time of its creation in 1820. Strikingly coloured, Napoleonic-era, First Empire gowns glow jewel-like against a neoclassical marble colonnade. Surprising coups de théâtre are peppered throughout the production, including the sudden emergence of a statue of three galloping horses on which Maometto makes a dramatic exit. Lighting design is by internationally acclaimed Duane Schuler with choreography by David Laera.

Mastering Rossini’s fearsome vocal demands is Italian bass-baritone Luca Pisaroni, lauded as “a chilling and complex Maometto…his dashing stage presence and virile voice exude menacing authority” (New York Times) at the time of this production’s 2012 premiere in Santa Fe. One of the most charismatic and versatile singers performing today, Pisaroni has captivated audiences from the stages of the world’s leading opera houses, concert halls, and festivals since making his debut in 2001 with the Vienna Philharmonic at the Salzburg Festival.

The COC’s presentation of Maometto II reunites Pisaroni with two exceptional talents from this production’s premiere cast. In the role of the Venetian Governor Erisso is American Bruce Sledge, one of the world’s most in-demand bel canto tenors, in his COC debut. Recognized as a rising star in the next generation of singers, American soprano Leah Crocetto makes her COC debut as Maometto’s forbidden love, Anna.

American mezzo-soprano Elizabeth DeShong is the Venetian noble Calbo. After dazzling COC audiences and critics alike in 2014’s Madama Butterfly and 2011’s Cinderella with a voice that “combines a contralto opulence with blazing top notes and some of the most staggering coloratura you will ever hear” (The Guardian), DeShong now makes her role debut in one of bel canto’s great, heroic pants roles.

Rounding out the cast are two Canadian tenors on the rise from the COC Ensemble Studio: Charles Sy is the Venetian noble Condulmiero and Aaron Sheppard is the Muslim noble Selimo.

TICKET INFORMATION
Single tickets for Maometto II 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
CIBC: Production Sponsor
BMO Financial Group: Title Sponsor of Pre-Performance Opera Chats and Student Dress Rehearsals
Sun Life Financial: Presenting Sponsor of SURTITLES™
Mercedes-Benz Canada: 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

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