COC Media Releases

10/27/2014

COC SEASON NOTED FOR ARTISTIC TRIUMPHS, HIGH ATTENDANCE AND FUNDRAISING GROWTH DESPITE FINANCIAL CHALLENGES

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Toronto – Today at the Canadian Opera Company’s Annual General Meeting, the company reported on its artistic highlights, impressive endowment growth, growing attendance and subscription figures, and a general financial overview of the 2013/2014 season.

“Last season the Canadian Opera Company saw tremendous growth, while also managing a challenging financial environment,” said COC Board President Tony Arrell. “Over its long history, the COC has never achieved such acclaim, attracted such talent and engaged such strong community support as what we saw last year. The COC has an exceptional leader in Alexander Neef and the Board feels the company gets stronger each year under his direction.”

In reviewing the COC’s 13/14 fiscal year, the company recorded an impressive average attendance of 94% (an increase by 4% over last season), and combined fundraising revenue of $12.6 million (net). This includes over $3 million towards the endowment of the Canadian Opera Foundation, which has seen significant growth in the past six years, increasing in size from $18.8 million in 2008 to $34 million in assets in 2014. The company also posted an expected revenue shortfall of $952,000.

"The season’s financial challenges were not unexpected, and we realized early on that, financially, it would be the most difficult season in recent history,” continued Arrell. “We are grateful for the support from our Foundation that allowed us to finance the transition to the new operating model over the past few years. We are committed to balancing our budget on an annual basis and continue to make significant adjustment on our operating model to ensure that outcome.”

Due to the long-term nature of artistic programming and scheduling, the COC has used the last few years to evaluate and implement substantial changes to its operating model in order to respond to gradual annual declines in ticket sales. The 2014/2015 season sees some of these measures planned years ago now taking effect. The return to a six-opera season with approximately the same number of performances as the former seven-opera model will allow the company to eliminate roughly half of its operating deficit. As well, new ticket marketing and pricing strategies have already built up the company’s subscriber base and will allow the company to reach higher capacity levels throughout the season.

“The artistic standard we have reached in our productions is now showing up in subscription demand,” said COC General Director Alexander Neef. “Subscriptions for the 14/15 season are very strong with almost 2,000 new subscribers. In fact, overall, we have had more new subscribers this season than we have had in over three years. This is good news for the future and we intend to continue to build on it, while remaining vigilant to ensure we meet our breakeven budget commitments.”

The COC’s operating expenses for the 13/14 season were $41,464,000 with revenues of $38,529,000, including a regularly budgeted grant of $1 million from the opera company’s Foundation, which comes from earnings on endowment funds. Additional grants of almost $2 million came from Foundation funds: approximately $800,000 from a special cash reserve created from the COC’s prior operating surpluses, and $1.2 million from unrestricted accumulated earnings that did not encroach upon endowment capital. These expenses and revenues are a consolidated presentation of the financial results of the COC and its controlled affiliate, the Canadian Opera House Corporation, a charitable organization that owns and operates the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.

Box office revenue represented 25% of total operating revenues for the 13/14 season, with fundraising accounting for 24%. Other income was generated from the Four Seasons Centre by tenant and parking fees, event and third-party rental revenue as well as general space and production rentals, representing 20%. Public support from all three levels of government accounted for 15%. The amortization of deferred capital contributions represented 9% and the remaining 7% came from the Canadian Opera Foundation (as noted above).

The COC recorded 68,682 subscription tickets and 38,066 single tickets, generating net ticket revenue of $9.7 million. A total of 111,421 patrons attended the 58 performances of the company’s seven mainstage productions last season at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts: Puccini’s La Bohème, Britten’s Peter Grimes, Mozart’s Così fan tutte, Verdi’s A Masked Ball, Handel’s Hercules, Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux and Massenet’s Don Quichotte.

“The 13/14 season was an artistic high point, and presented a full range of operatic repertoire historically, musically and stylistically,” said Neef. “From a performance point of view we featured perhaps the most star-studded line-up of artists ever seen on the COC stage. I am also very proud that we were able to present four new productions and three company premieres in 13/14.”

“Our fundraising efforts have been essential to building our base of supporters, and we are fortunate to have very loyal patrons, who take their devotion and commitment to us very seriously,” added Neef.

Of the $12.6 million in total fundraising revenue (combined net operating and endowment) for the COC in 13/14, approximately 83% – $10.4 million – came from individuals in support of the COC’s mainstage productions and artists, as well as transition and endowment funding, training, and education and outreach programs. Support for the artists of the COC’s Ensemble Studio, Canada’s premier training program for young opera professionals, was particularly strong with all 11 members of the 13/14 season fully underwritten through artist sponsorships – the first time in the program’s 34-year history. Special events accounted for 3% of the COC’s fundraising efforts for 13/14, which expanded to include the company’s flagship gala – Centre Stage: Ensemble Studio Competition Gala – and raised more than $300,000 in its inaugural year.

A crucial source of funding has proven to be a matching endowment program developed by the Department of Canadian Heritage’s Endowment Incentives component. Private contributions with these government funds brought the company’s annual endowment contribution to $3.7 million over the last season.

The COC received 16 Dora Mavor Moore Award nominations in six categories for its artists and productions in the 13/14 season, and won four awards: Outstanding Production of an Opera (Roberto Devereux); Outstanding Performance, Female, in an Opera (Sondra Radvanovsky – Roberto Devereux); Outstanding Performance, Male, in an Opera (Alan Held – Peter Grimes); and, Outstanding Performance, Ensemble, in an Opera (COC Chorus – Peter Grimes).

In 13/14, the COC expanded the scale of its Ensemble Studio Competition with the creation of Centre Stage, a much grander platform for celebrating the future of opera in Canada. For the first time in the history of the Ensemble Studio, auditioning singers performed from the stage of R. Fraser Elliott Hall at the Four Seasons Centre, accompanied by the COC Orchestra under Music Director Johannes Debus. Selected from an audition pool of 155 singers, nine finalists performed before an audience of 800 patrons on November 26, 2013. Four prizes valued at $11,000 in total were awarded, and three singers were ultimately selected to join the COC’s illustrious Ensemble Studio program in the 14/15 season.

In January 2014, the COC also launched the COC Orchestra Academy, a new initiative building on the company’s commitment to training opera artists. 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 is a mentorship program led by Johannes Debus. This past year, three students were paired with veteran COC Orchestra players, allowing the younger musicians to observe, learn and play with a world-class orchestra within the setting of presenting an opera production.

The COC continued its efforts off the mainstage to making opera and the performing arts as accessible as possible. In total 40,046 adults, youths and families engaged with opera in 13/14 through the COC’s 20 education and outreach programs.

The COC’s Free Concert Series in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre also hosted approximately 15,000 people of all ages at its 79 concerts in 13/14. The Free Concert Series’ programming spans classical, jazz, world music and contemporary dance and last season featured five world premieres and five Canadian premieres, showcased 404 artists and presented 27 works by Canadian composers.

The COC’s 14/15 season began on October 3, 2014, with a new production of Verdi’s Falstaff and Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. The season continues in the winter with a new production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni and the return of the COC’s production of Wagner’s Die Walküre. The season concludes in the spring with Rossini’s The Barber of Seville and the double bill of the seminal Robert Lepage production of Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle and Schoenberg’s Erwartung.

About the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio
The COC Ensemble Studio, underwritten in part by Peter M. Deeb 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 through the Department of Canadian Heritage, RBC Foundation, Hal Jackman Foundation, W. Garfield Weston 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 production photographs, please contact:
Jennifer Pugsley, Media Relations Manager, tel: 416-306-2303, e-mail: jenniferp@coc.ca

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10/14/2014

COC’S GLENCORE ENSEMBLE STUDIO SCHOOL TOUR BRINGS MAGICAL AND MYTHICAL KID-FRIENDLY OPERAS TO YOUNG AUDIENCES ACROSS ONTARIO THIS FALL

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Toronto – The Canadian Opera Company’s Glencore Ensemble Studio School Tour returns to elementary and middle schools across Ontario from November 3 – 30, 2014. Two engaging and entertaining operas by Canadian composer Dean Burry headline the tour for 2014: The Bremen Town Musicians and The Scorpions’ Sting: An Egyptian Myth. These child-friendly operas expect to reach 16,000 students from Kindergarten to grade eight over the course of the tour.

“We are delighted to once again bring opera directly to its youngest audiences through the Glencore Ensemble Studio School Tour,” says COC General Director Alexander Neef. “For many of the students, the school tour is their first opportunity to experience any kind of live performance. We hope that by making the art form accessible to children, it will help pave the way for a life-long love of opera and the performing arts.”

Each of the Glencore Ensemble Studio School Tour’s operas featured this year were composed for young audiences, and draw from classic fairy tales and ancient mythology in their respective stories. Ideal for students in Kindergarten to grade six, The Bremen Town Musicians, based on a tale by the Grimm Brothers, is a new COC production created especially for the tour. This year, the opera also travels to schools in Sudbury for a special week of performances. Meanwhile, The Scorpions’ Sting: An Egyptian Myth, a school tour favourite, is suitable for audiences in Kindergarten to grade eight. In addition to the school tour performances, members of the public will have the rare opportunity to see The Scorpions’ Sting: An Egyptian Myth in an exclusive performance at the Royal Ontario Museum’s Signy & Cléophée Eaton Theatre on Saturday, November 29. Entry is free with museum admission.

Both The Bremen Town Musicians and The Scorpions’ Sting: An Egyptian Myth are 45 minutes in length and performed in English, making them easily accessible for younger audiences. Each performance concludes with a 15-minute question-and-answer period with the cast and crew. These annual touring productions feature the rising young stars of the COC’s Ensemble Studio, Canada’s premier training program for young opera professionals.

A complete 2014 Glencore Ensemble Studio School Tour schedule is available upon request. The COC welcomes media coverage of school performances. Photographers and writers must advise the COC’s media relations team 48 hours before the performance of their attendance at the in-school presentation. The COC must advise the school before any media can attend. This is a legal requirement.

The Bremen Town Musicians by Dean Burry
The Bremen Town Musicians was originally commissioned by Ottawa’s Opera Lyra in 2009. Based on a fairy tale by the famous Brothers Grimm, the opera tells the story of a donkey, a dog, a cat and a rooster who embark on a journey to find freedom and start a new life after being mistreated by their owners. This all-new production, from director Ashlie Corcoran, was commissioned by the COC for this year’s Glencore Ensemble Studio School Tour, with sets and costumes created by multi-Dora Award-winning designer Camellia Koo.

Creative Team

Director: Ashlie Corcoran
Music Director: Jenna Douglas
Set & Costume Designer: Camellia Koo
Stage Manager: Michael Barrs

Donkey: Iain MacNeil
Dog: Charlotte Burrage
Cat: Aviva Fortunata
Rooster: Andrew Haji
Robber (and others): Gordon Bintner

The Scorpions’ Sting: An Egyptian Myth by Dean Burry
The Scorpions’ Sting: An Egyptian Myth was commissioned by the COC for the school tour in 2006 (under its original title Isis and the Seven Scorpions). Set in the midst of an Egyptian sandstorm, the opera follows the time-travelling adventures of Professor Hornsby and his students. When Professor Hornsby is stung by a poisonous scorpion, his students must find the cure hidden in ancient hieroglyphics in the Lost Temple of Isis. In an effort to save their professor, the students use Isis’ ancient wisdom and learn the power of forgiveness. The Scorpions’ Sting: An Egyptian Myth was last performed as part of the Glencore Ensemble Studio School Tour in 2011.

Creative Team

Director: Joel Ivany
Music Director: Jennifer Szeto
Set & Costume Designer: Brent Krysa
Stage Manager: Michael Lewandowski

Professor Hornsby/Set: Jean-Philippe Fortier-Lazure/Owen McCausland
Sally Smith/Isis: Karine Boucher
David Sands/Osiris/Scorpions: Clarence Frazer
Molly Brown/Nephthys/Tahemet: Erica Iris

About Dean Burry
Acclaimed Canadian composer Dean Burry graduated from music programs at Mount Allison University and the University of Toronto. He developed the COC’s After School Opera Program in 1997 and currently leads sessions at four of the program’s five locations. He has also composed many original operas and musicals for both children and adults. A long-time artist educator with the COC, he was commissioned to write the children’s opera The Brothers Grimm in 1999 for the COC’s annual school tour. The work has become the most performed Canadian opera in history. In addition to The Scorpions’ Sting and The Bremen Town Musicians, major works by Burry include Under the Night, The Heart That Knows and Home and Away (Live Bait Theatre); Songs of the Island (Charlottetown Festival); The Hobbit and The Secret World of OG (Canadian Children’s Opera Company); Pandora’s Locker (The Glenn Gould School); A Creature of Habit (Rising Tide Theatre), The Mummers’ Masque (Toronto Masque Theatre); Baby Kintyre (CBC Radio); and Angela and Her Sisters (University of Manitoba).

Acknowledgements

Glencore is the title sponsor of the Glencore Ensemble Studio School Tour. It is one of the world’s largest global diversified natural resource companies.

The 2014 Glencore Ensemble Studio School Tour is booked through the COC’s arts education and touring partner, Prologue to the Performing Arts.

The COC Ensemble Studio, underwritten in part by Peter M. Deeb 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 through the Department of Canadian Heritage, RBC Foundation, Hal Jackman Foundation, W. Garfield Weston 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, and is also the performance venue for The National Ballet of Canada. For more information on the COC, visit its award-winning website, coc.ca.

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For more information or to request photographs of the school tour productions, please contact:

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

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10/2/2014

DANCE-POP MUSICAL SENSATION YELLE TO LIGHT UP OPERANATION

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COC Brings Music, Art and Fashion Together to Light up Every Corner of the Four Seasons Centre

TORONTO, ON October 2, 2014 — French dance-pop band Yelle is now confirmed as this year’s special musical guest artist performing at the Canadian Opera Company’s 11th annual Operanation: Light up the Night on October 16, 2014. In addition to performing selections from their latest album, Complètement fou, Yelle collaborates with artists from the COC’s Ensemble Studio, Canada’s premier training program for young opera professionals. This year’s Operanation exceeds expectations like never before with musical and art performances, as well as art installations that reflect multiple artistic disciplines designed to light up every corner of the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.

Light up the Night: Music
Hailing from Paris, France, Yelle comes to the Four Seasons Centre, hot off the release of their highly-anticipated third studio album, Complètement fou. In addition to their performance at Operanation: Light Up the Night, Yelle also performs at Toronto’s Virgin Mobile Mod Club on October 15, 2014. The group is fronted by leadsinger and namesake Yelle (Julie Budet) and cofounder and main composer GrandMarnier (Jean - Francois Perrier). The group shot to fame in September 2005, when they posted their song “Je veux te voir” on Myspace, which later reached the top five in France. With their unique artistry and amplified electro-pop sound, Yelle’s collaborative performance with the COC Ensemble Studio artists is sure to bring an electric vibe to this year’s Operanation.

Light up the Night: Contemporary Art
This year Operanation welcomes three Canadian contemporary artists, Keith Cole, Derek Liddington, and Orest Tataryn, who have taken inspiration from this year’s theme to design activations of epic proportions.

Keith Cole’s Yacht Rawk Flash Mob creates a floating flash mob, moving from floor to floor in the Four Seasons Centre. Guests will be invited to join him in a choreographed ballet as music by Melissa Manchester, Carole King, The Doobie Brothers and many more, echoes throughout the venue.

Derek Liddington’s activation treats guests to a multi-dimensional experience in a recomposed version of Claude Debussy’s “Jeux.” Developed to be performed by two electric guitars and a male opera singer, the work describes the rise and fall of the enduring romantic sun in eight minute features projected onto large video screens in the Four Seasons Centre, as well as private screenings in the opera house’s royal box every 30 minutes.

Widely acclaimed artist, Orest Tataryn, showcases an innovative and vibrant neon light art installation. Tataryn transforms the Four Seasons Centre into a visual playground, creating optical illusions and altering perceptions, sparking curiosity and emotional resonance.

Light up the Night: Fashion
Channeling inspiration from neon lighting of the '90s, the COC has partnered with some of Canada’s hottest fashion designers to create a series of slap bracelets available through Operanation’s annual raffle. This year’s three designers include: Chloe and Parris Gordon (BEAUFILLE), Sarah Stevenson (SARAH STEVENSON DESIGN), and Kaelen Haworth (KAELEN). The snap bracelets are original creations, an artistic expression of each designer’s signature style that produces a high culture fashion experience for guests along the theme of Light up the Night.

Tickets
Tickets for the party portion of Operanation: Light up the Night are $150 per person, available online at Operanation.ca or by calling COC Ticket Services at 416 - 363 - 8231.

Acknowledgements
Presenting Sponsor: TD Bank Group
Preferred Fragrance: REVEAL by Calvin Klein
Partnering Sponsor: Burgundy Asset Management
Jewellery Partner: Maison Birks
Contributing Sponsors: Bloomberg, Canaccord Genuity, Torkin Manes LLP
Event Supporters: BT/A, Chairman Mills, Knot PR, Mill St., Perrier, Quince Flowers, Ryan Emberley Photography, The Room, Toronto Life, Trius Wines, and 10tation. J.P. Wiser’s ® Canadian Wisky, Lot No. 40™ Canadian Whisky, Pike Creek™ Canadian Whisky, Jameson® Irish Whiskey, The Glenlivet® Single Malt Scotch Whisky, Aberlour® Single Malt Scotch Whisky, and Beefeater® Gin.
Operanation: Light up the Night Co-chairs: Randi Bergman, Anne Maggisano and Patrick Sambrook
Operanation: Light up the Night Campaign Credit: Photo: Dexter Quinto, 2014. Dress by Jonathan Saunders available at The Room, Hudson’s Bay. Shoes by Gianvito Rossi.

ABOUT OPERANATION
Operanation is the Canadian Opera Company’s premier fundraising event. For arts patrons as well as the opera - curious, Operanation presents a unique experience, equal parts party and performance, with special collaborations between classic and modern music and complementary art forms ranging from visual arts to fashion. Attracting over 1,000 guests, Operanation takes over three floors of the COC’s opera house, the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. Funds raised for Operanation are directed towards the COC’s Ensemble Studio, Canada’s premier training program for young opera professionals. For more information on Operanation, visit operanation.ca , @operanation , or facebook.com/Operanation .

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, and is also the performance venue for The National Ballet of Canada. For more information on the Canadian Opera Company, please visit its award - winning website, coc.ca .

_ _ _ _

Media Contact:
Nicole Martin , Knot PR
nam@knotpr.com
416 - 532 - 9035
knotpr.com

Jennifer Pugsley, Canadian Opera Company
jenniferp@coc.ca
416 - 306 - 2303
coc.ca

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