COC Media Releases

8/27/2014

COC REVIVES AUDIENCE FAVOURITE, MADAMA BUTTERFLY, ONE OF THE WORLD’S BEST-LOVED OPERAS

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Toronto – The Canadian Opera Company’s beloved production of Puccini’s heartbreaking masterpiece of love, longing and loss, Madama Butterfly, comes to the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts this October. An exquisite production by Canadian theatrical legend Brian Macdonald, designed by Susan Benson with lighting by Michael Whitfield, the COC’s Madama Butterfly has become a Toronto favourite, playing to sold-out audiences at its 1990 premiere and subsequent revivals in 1994, 1998, 2003 and 2009. Madama Butterfly is sung in Italian with English SURTITLES™ and runs for 12 performances on October 10, 11, 15, 18, 19, 21, 22, 24, 26, 28, 30 and 31, 2014.

Madama Butterfly is the story of Cio-Cio San, a young Japanese geisha who seeks to fulfil her dreams through marriage to an American naval officer. Her faith in their future is shattered by his empty vows, and the loss she endures makes the opera’s tragic ending even more devastating.

Two great American singing actresses make their COC debuts in the feature role of Cio-Cio San: Patricia Racette and Kelly Kaduce. One of the most important and acclaimed sopranos on the international stage today, Racette has appeared in the world’s finest opera houses and comes to Toronto in her signature role of Madama Butterfly. Racette’s portrayal of the beloved heroine touched millions in the recent Metropolitan Opera HD broadcast and has been declared to “rightly stand among the great Butterflies of her era” (Opera News). Kaduce is a rising star on the operatic world stage, praised for delivering a Cio-Cio San that “demolishes stereotypes. This is no conventional Butterfly-as-victim, but a woman of consequence” (Santa Fe Reporter).

Also appearing with the COC for the first time are two of opera’s leading tenors singing the role of Cio-Cio San’s beloved Pinkerton: Stefano Secco, praised for his “gorgeous, nuanced Italianate tenor singing” (Opera News) and Andrea Carè, one of the most important artists among the new generation of Italian tenors.

Returning to the COC is Elizabeth DeShong (2011’s Cinderella, 2009’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream) as Suzuki, Cio-Cio San’s devoted servant. The internationally acclaimed American mezzo-soprano most recently sang the role with San Francisco Opera and the Metropolitan Opera.

Two of the finest baritones of their generation, American Dwayne Croft (1993’s The Marriage of Figaro) and Canadian Gregory Dahl (2014’s A Masked Ball, 2012’s The Tales of Hoffmann) share the role of the American Consul, Sharpless. Rising opera singer Korean-American tenor Julius Ahn, in his COC debut, and distinguished Canadian tenor, and Ensemble Studio graduate, Michael Colvin (2014’s Falstaff, 2013’s Salome, Dialogues des Carmélites) share the role of Goro, a Japanese marriage broker.

Rounding out the cast is Ensemble Studio baritone Clarence Frazer as Prince Yamadori; Ensemble Studio graduate bass Robert Gleadow (2014’s Falstaff, 2014’s Così fan tutte, 2013’s La clemenza di Tito, 2012’s Il Trovatore) as The Bonze; Canadian baritone Gene Wu as Yakuside; Ensemble Studio bass-baritone Iain MacNeil as The Imperial Commissioner; Ensemble Studio bass-baritone Gordon Bintner as The Official Registrar; Canadian mezzo-soprano Lilian Kilianski as Cio-Cio San’s mother; Canadian mezzo-soprano Karen Olinyk as Cio-Cio San’s aunt and Canadian soprano Alexandra Lennox-Pomeroy as Cio-Cio San’s cousin.

A rising star in the generation of young conductors, German Patrick Lange makes his COC debut leading the COC Orchestra and Chorus through Puccini’s passionate score. Containing some of opera’s most memorable music, Madama Butterfly is considered Puccini’s best work, reflects his varied influences, including American and Japanese melodies, and features an unusually large orchestra for an Italian opera.

About Madama Butterfly
Set in Nagasaki, the plot of Madama Butterfly is partly based on an actual occurrence between an American naval officer and a Japanese geisha in the 1890s and was composed by Puccini after seeing David Belasco’s play Madame Butterfly in 1900. After a less than favourable premiere at La Scala in 1904, Puccini withdrew the score and made extensive revisions. Madama Butterfly is now one of the most popular and most performed operas in the world.

Director Brian Macdonald and designer Susan Benson purposefully sought a design that would enhance the story of this treasured work. The production’s lean abstract set design and use of space only serve to heighten the emotions of the drama unfolding on stage. Stylistically, Benson has chosen to present Japan through the lens of European Romanticism, rather than in a historically realistic way. The colour palette she draws from is one symbolic of troubles to come with bright oranges giving way to stormy greys.


TICKET INFORMATION

Single tickets for Madama Butterfly range from $12 – $339 (subject to availability), 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

Production Sponsors: The Asper Foundation and KPMG

The COC’s production of Madama Butterfly was originally made possible by John A. Cook

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.

Presenting Sponsor of SURTITLES™: Sun Life Financial

Official Automotive Sponsor of the COC at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts: Mercedes Benz

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 production photographs, please contact:
Jennifer Pugsley, Media Relations Manager, tel: 416-306-2303, e-mail: jenniferp@coc.ca

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8/26/2014

COC’S FREE CONCERT SERIES HIGHLIGHTS CELEBRATED ARTISTS, RISING STARS AND ARTISTIC DIVERSITY IN 2014/2015 SEASON

Read the PDF version here.

NEW SUB-SERIES COMMEMORATES FIRST AND SECOND WORLD WARS AND FALL OF THE BERLIN WALL

Toronto – The Canadian Opera Company’s Free Concert Series in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre returns for a ninth season on September 23, 2014, boasting a varied roster of established artists and rising stars from around the world in a wide range of art forms. The highly anticipated first performance of the 2014/2015 season introduces the young artists of the COC Ensemble Studio in a program of their favourite operatic gems.

The 14/15 season showcases nearly 500 artists in 75 concerts across six series: Vocal, Chamber Music, Piano Virtuoso, Jazz, World Music and Dance. A special feature of this season is a new sub-series to commemorate anniversaries of the First and Second World Wars, and the fall of the Berlin Wall. Entitled A Century of Change: Remembering the World Wars and the Fall of the Berlin Wall, the sub-series includes six concerts and spans the Vocal, Chamber Music and Piano Virtuoso programs. Performances by artists of the COC Orchestra, COC Ensemble Studio and The Glenn Gould School, as well as Canadian pianist Maxim Bernard, examine the enduring the role of the artist in chronicling and responding to these significant turning points in history.

Additional highlights of the 14/15 season include two world premieres: a new song cycle by celebrated Canadian composer Marjan Mozetich, commissioned by the Canadian Art Song Project and performed by Canadian mezzo-soprano Allyson McHardy; and a new work by emerging American composer Andy Villemez written for and performed by young American pianist Kara Huber.

The Free Concert Series also welcomes two world-renowned artists to the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre for the first time. In collaboration with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, master pianist Emanuel Ax hosts and curates a concert as part of the TSO’s RBC Piano Extravaganza featuring two of the most exciting young pianists on the international scene today: Russian Pavel Kolesnikov and American Orion Weiss. In anticipation of the TSO’s New Creations Festival, Canadian superstar soprano Barbara Hannigan, one of Canada’s leading performers of new music, presents a captivating program of vocal chamber music.

Other notable first-time performers in the Free Concert Series include acclaimed Canadians, soprano Jane Archibald and baritone Joshua Hopkins, and Russian mezzo-soprano Ekaterina Gubanova, all starring in the COC’s mainstage 14/15 season; Icelandic pianist and TV host Víkingur Ólafsson, reflecting on his Nordic roots; Juno Award nominees Amy McConnell and William Sperandei with a tribute to Cole Porter; and one of Canada’s leading young jazz vocalists, Alex Samaras, in an exploration of the forgotten songs of Broadway.

Following its overwhelming popularity over the last two years, the Free Concert Series’ annual interactive March Break concert returns in 2015. Featuring artist-educators and artists of the COC Ensemble Studio, audience members of all ages can test their operatic chops in a lively concert of favourite operatic arias and sing-along choruses. This season also includes the return of the biennial Christina and Louis Quilico Awards, a special presentation where the artists of the COC’s 14/15 Ensemble Studio compete for cash prizes.

The Free Concert Series brings diverse artistic experiences to 15,000 people annually from September to June in what has become one of Toronto’s most vibrant cultural hubs, the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. Performances take place most Tuesdays and Thursdays at 12 p.m., and some Wednesdays at 12 p.m. or 5:30 p.m. Doors open 30 minutes prior to each performance and seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.

The Free Concert Series presents artists of the highest calibre in six varied series running throughout the season:

VOCAL
From operatic classics to newly created works, the Vocal Series showcases internationally acclaimed artists, as well as the stars of tomorrow, in 22 concerts. This season, singers from each of the COC’s 14/15 mainstage productions appear in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre, including: Canadians, soprano Jane Archibald (Don Giovanni), soprano Krisztina Szabó (Erwartung), mezzo-soprano Lauren Segal (Falstaff), tenor Colin Ainsworth (Falstaff), baritone Joshua Hopkins (The Barber of Seville) and bass-baritone Robert Gleadow (Falstaff, Madama Butterfly and The Barber of Seville); Russian mezzo-soprano Ekaterina Gubanova (Bluebeard’s Castle); and German mezzo-soprano Janina Baechle (Die Walküre).

In addition to the Christina and Louis Quilico Awards, artists of the COC Ensemble Studio perform in 10 concerts this season, including a program of highlights from Rossini’s comic masterpiece The Barber of Seville. More young artists to watch for in the Vocal Series include the University of Toronto’s Opera Division and the Canadian Children’s Opera Company.

CHAMBER MUSIC
Eighteen richly varied concerts in the Chamber Music Series feature a variety of local and international soloists and ensembles. This season, artists of the COC Orchestra return for five concerts, curated by COC Music Director Johannes Debus, including a special introduction to the COC Orchestra Academy performing alongside their COC Orchestra mentors.

Additional highlights include first-time performances by Evergreen Club Contemporary Gamelan, whose traditional and innovative contemporary music breathes new life into Indonesia’s musical traditions, and Fandango Guitar Quartet with a compelling blend of Latin rhythms and classical arrangements. The series also welcomes young artists from The Glenn Gould School and faculty from Western University’s Don Wright Faculty of Music.

PIANO VIRTUOSO
The Piano Virtuoso Series shines a spotlight on brilliant Canadian and international pianists in 11 concerts. Among this season’s highly anticipated concerts are performances by Maxim Bernard, Kara Huber and Víkingur Ólafsson, as well as a performance in the TSO’s RBC Piano Extravaganza, hosted by Emanuel Ax and featuring exciting young pianists Pavel Kolesnikov and Orion Weiss. Audiences can also look forward to performances by award-winning Swiss pianist and composer Jean-Sélim Abdelmoula, 15-year-old Canadian prodigy Anastasia Rizikov, and American pianist and harpsichordist Stephen Hargreaves.

JAZZ
Some of the most exciting names on the Canadian jazz scene today treat audiences to everything from cutting-edge contemporary to swinging standards, and from sizzling Latin to Indo-Jazz fusion in this season’s 10 concerts. Juno Award-winning bassist and composer Mike Downes teams up with powerhouse pianist Robi Botos and drummer Larnell Lewis in a sophisticated hour of original music, while performances by the Amy McConnell & William Sperandei Quartet and Alex Samaras pay tribute to the enduring legacies of musical theatre giants like Cole Porter and Stephen Sondheim. The series also features a variety of impressive student ensembles from Humber College and McGill University, led by Canadian jazz icons such as Hilario Durán, Alex Dean, Justin Gray and Rémi Bolduc.

WORLD MUSIC
In seven concerts, leading musicians from Canada and around the world take audiences on a global musical journey. Debut performances include acclaimed ensembles such as Minor Empire, who combine traditional Turkish music with a unique soundscape of psychedelia, electronica and jazz; and the Dominic Mancuso Group, which draws inspiration from Mancuso’s southern Italian forefathers.

In two unique cross-cultural collaborations, trumpeter David Buchbinder and piano master Hilario Durán’s Juno Award-winning group Odessa/Havana celebrates their shared Arabic, Roma, Sephardic and North African heritage. Meanwhile, vocalist Amanda Martinez blends the sounds of her Mexican and South African roots with elements of flamenco, Mexican folklore and Afro-Cuban rhythms for a must-see holiday performance.

DANCE
The city’s most inventive dancers and choreographers redraw the boundaries of the human body in seven dance performances this season. Returning favourites include the renowned Peggy Baker Dance Projects with a preview of Baker’s new work, locus plot; Canada’s Ballet Jörgen, presenting excerpts from their classical and contemporary ballet repertoire; and Opera Atelier with the Atelier Ballet in a sneak peek of the opera company’s new production of Handel’s Alcina. International influences are represented by Ritmo Flamenco Dance and Music Ensemble and the traditional Indian Kathak dancing of Bageshree Vaze, creator of Raagini Dance.

For a full calendar of events, please visit coc.ca.

The Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre is a focal point of the Isadore and Rosalie Sharp City Room in the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, with its striking glass wall allowing for natural lighting and a view of University Avenue. Linking Rings 3 and 4, the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre provides seating for 100 patrons. Additional seating and standing locations on the walkway and the upper floor are also available.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
The Free Concert Series in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre is supported by the Free Concert Series Endowment Fund established in honour of Richard Bradshaw by an anonymous donor.

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 mainstage performance.

Presenting Sponsor of SURTITLES™: Sun Life Financial

Official Automotive Sponsor of the COC at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts: Mercedes Benz

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.

Free Concert Series Media Sponsors: Classical 96.3 FM and The WholeNote Magazine

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 photographs, 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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8/20/2014

COC APPOINTS CHIEF COMMUNICATIONS OFFICER

Read the PDF version here.

Toronto – The Canadian Opera Company is proud to announce that it has selected Steven Kelley to serve in the opera company’s new senior staff position of Chief Communications Officer. Kelley joins the COC in early October, coming directly from Houston Grand Opera where he has been director of marketing for the past four years.

As a member of the COC’s senior executive management team, Kelley will lead the development and implementation of strategic efforts to maximize the opera company’s earned revenue opportunities, directly manage all marketing and communication-based activities that promote and enhance the COC brand, lead the expansion of the COC’s community outreach and engagement activities, and oversee communications efforts to maximize the opera company’s international, national and regional impact.

“We look forward to having Steven join the company this fall. He’s highly skilled with over 15 years of experience working specifically in the marketing of opera,” says Canadian Opera Company General Director Alexander Neef. “While at Houston Grand Opera, among other marketing and communications innovations, Steven revitalized subscription and single-ticket campaigns that have now made HGO a model within the opera industry. He offers an outstanding combination of experience and accomplishments that will serve the COC well as we continue to develop as one of the world’s finest opera companies.”

Kelley joined Houston Grand Opera in 2010 and played a significant role in restructuring the company’s sales, marketing and customer service activities. Prior to HGO, Kelley led the marketing efforts for the Opera Theatre of St. Louis, and was director of marketing and communications for Kentucky Opera. He was formerly a producer of Radio City Music Hall, and has a background in advertising. He spent his early professional years as a stage manager working for a number of opera companies, including HGO and Lyric Opera of Chicago. Kelley holds a bachelor of music degree from Baylor University.

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 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, please contact:

Jennifer Pugsley, Media Relations Manager, tel: 416-306-2303, e-mail: jenniferp@coc.ca

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