COC Media Releases

3/7/2016

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

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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

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

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

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

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