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Toronto – The Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio, Canada’s premier training program for young opera professionals, welcomes four outstanding new artists for the 2012/2013 season. SopranoSasha Djihanian, soprano Claire de Sévigné, tenor Owen McCausland and baritone Cameron McPhail were among 10 finalists who competed for the highly coveted Ensemble Studio positions at the inaugural Ensemble Studio Competition in November 2011. They now join an illustrious program that, since its inception in 1980, has launched the careers of over 150 Canadian singers, opera coaches, stage directors and conductors, including Ben Heppner, Isabel Bayrakdarian, John Fanning, Wendy Nielsen, David Pomeroy, Joseph Kaiser, Lauren Segal and Krisztina Szabó.
Prior to starting with the COC in the 12/13 season, the four new Ensemble Studio members are finishing major projects at home and abroad. Montreal soprano Sasha Djihanian, first-place winner of the Ensemble Studio Competition, is currently performing Micaëla in Carmen at the Teatro Petruzzelli in Bari, Italy, with Lorin Maazel conducting. Second-place winner soprano Claire de Sévigné, also from Montreal, appears as Cleopatra in Handel’s Giulio Cesare with Ottawa’s Thirteen Strings Orchestra in April 2012. New Brunswick tenor Owen McCausland, who placed third in the competition, recently performed the role of Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni at the Centre for Opera Studies in Italy and is working on completing his bachelor of arts in music at Dalhousie University. Manitoba baritone Cameron McPhail, who is currently completing his masters of arts in music at the Yale Opera Studio, will be making a role debut with Yale Opera as Tarquinius in Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia this spring.
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Toronto – One of the most popular operas of all time, Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca, opens the Canadian Opera Company’s 2011/2012 winter season. The COC brings back its lavish 2008 production by director Paul Curran, showcasing renowned Canadian soprano Adrianne Pieczonka in her COC role debut as the passionate and fiery heroine. Italian conductor Paolo Carignani, former general music director of Oper Frankfurt, makes his company debut leading the COC Orchestra and Chorus. Tosca runs for 14 performances on Jan. 21, 25, 29, 31, Feb. 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 16, 21, 23 and 25, 2012 at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts and is sung in Italian with English SURTITLES™.
Tosca’s fast-paced plot is full of romance and intrigue. Set in Rome in 1800, Tosca is a famed opera singer whose lover has revolutionary sympathies. In trying to protect the man she loves from a blood-thirsty chief of police, Tosca finds herself caught in a web of corruption, lust and betrayal and ultimately commits an act of murder. The title role is one of the composer’s most complex and fascinating heroines, fit for great operatic actresses. Pieczonka, most recently with the COC last spring in the title role of Ariadne auf Naxos, calls Tosca her “dream role” and has drawn high praise for her portrayal since making her role debut in 2008: “She was radiant,” says the Los Angeles Times, and “Pieczonka’s Tosca is the quintessential diva, rendering her signature arias with ease and verve” describes SF Weekly. Sharing opera’s hallmark “diva” role is American soprano Julie Makerov, whose vocalism and dramatic intensity as Tosca has made her “every inch the imperious diva, moving from flashing-eyed jealous lover to abused woman to penitent murder,” says the Florida Sun Sentinel. Makerov returns to the COC following outstanding acclaim for lead performances in 2010’s The Flying Dutchman and 2008’s Rusalka.
Toronto – This February, the Canadian Opera Company presents the Canadian premiere of acclaimed Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho’s Love from Afar (L’amour de loin), a haunting and vivid musical creation that has become one of the most performed and successful operas composed of this century. This new COC production is helmed by COC Music Director Johannes Debus and visionary director Daniele Finzi Pasca, and features an all-Canadian cast of voices both familiar and new to the COC stage: baritone Russell Braun, soprano Erin Wall and mezzo-soprano Krisztina Szabó. Sung in French with English SURTITLES™,Love from Afar runs for eight performances at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts on Feb. 2, 4, 8, 10, 12, 14, 18 and 22, 2012.
Since the opera’s premiere in 2000 at the Salzburg Festival, Love from Afar has captivated audiences worldwide with performances at Théâtre du Châtelet, Sante Fe Opera, Stadttheater Bern, Finnish National Opera, the Bergen International Festival, English National Opera and Vlaamse Opera. Arguably the greatest opera of the 21st century, it has been praised as a “haunting and resonant work... transfixing and utterly distinguished” by the New York Times.