COC Media Releases


COC Opens Doors to Exclusive Audition Process With New Ensemble Studio Competition

Toronto, Ontario – For the first time in the history of the Canadian Opera Company, the final auditions for singers seeking to join the Ensemble Studio training program will be made public through the launch of an annual vocal competition.  The inaugural COC Ensemble Studio Competition takes place on Nov. 28, 2011 at 5:30 p.m. in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, with the winners garnering offers of highly-prized positions in the 2012/2013 Ensemble Studio. 

"The COC is committed to developing the next generation of Canadian opera stars," COC General Director Alexander Neef notes.  "Over its 30-year history, the Ensemble Studio has allowed young Canadian artists to receive internationally competitive training while staying in their home country, which we recognize as crucial to the development of the art form in Canada.  With the creation of the Ensemble Studio Competition, the public is invited to be a part of the singers' professional journeys from the very beginning as it shines a spotlight on emerging artists in a substantial and significant way."


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Canada's next rising stars to join COC's 2011/2012 Ensemble Studio

Toronto, Ontario – Canada’s premier training program for young opera professionals, the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio, welcomes four new artists for the 2011/2012 season.  They 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.

The two new singers are both Ottawa natives: soprano Mireille Asselin, fresh from a critically-acclaimed performance in Opera Atelier’s La clemenza di Tito, and bass-baritone Philippe Sly, a 2011 winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.  Two intern coaches each arrive from renowned music institutions: Barrie, Ontario pianist Jenna Douglas, who recently worked with the Oberlin College Conservatory in Ohio, and Toronto pianist Timothy Cheung, who has trained at the University of Western Ontario and the Music Academy of the West in California.

Returning for the 11/12 season are eight current members who have established themselves over the past season as the opera stars of tomorrow: Ambur Braid, Rihab Chaieb, Neil Craighead, Christopher Enns, Adrian Kramer, Ileana Montalbetti, Simone Osborne and Jacqueline Woodley.


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Classic and cutting-eduge designs make up Top Five finalists in COC's Cinderella Outfit Challenge

Toronto, Ontario – The fate of the top five finalists of the Canadian Opera Company's Cinderella Outfit Challenge is now in the hands of the contest's celebrity judges: Jeanne Beker (host of CTV's Fashion Television), Steven Sabados and Chris Hyndman (hosts of Steven & Chris on CBC TV), David McCaffrey (creative director and designer of McCaffrey Haute Couture) and COC General Director Alexander Neef

Public voting on the 60 submitted Cinderella-inspired hand-crafted costumes closed at the stroke of midnight on April 6, 2011, with 3,888 votes having been cast via the COC's Facebook page,  The top five designs, entitled "Golden Cinderella," "Fashionably Late," "Paperella," "Made from Magic" and "A Classic Fairy Tale," were the most popular, earning a combined total of 1,205 votes.  Five very unique designs are represented in the final selection, featuring gowns classic in style to dresses with a distinctly fashion-forward look.  Materials used in the creation of these designs range from traditional cloths and ribbon to multi-coloured slips of cupcake wrappers.

The winner of the design challenge will be announced on the COC's website,, on April 15, and will receive an opera prize pack worth more than $3,000, including four tickets to the opening night performance of the COC's Cinderella on April 23 and overnight accommodation at the Hilton Toronto.  The top five entries will also be on display at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts during performances of the COC's Cinderella on April 23, 28, May 1, 7, 10, 13, 19, 22 and 25, 2011.

The Cinderella Outfit Challenge was inspired by the crocheted dress-wearing doll image used in the creative campaign of the COC's production of Cinderella.  The Cinderella Outfit Challenge ran from March 15 – April 3, 2011, during which time contest participants created an original clothing design and submitted a photo of a doll wearing the Cinderella-inspired garment to the  Entries were judged by the general public from March 15 – April 6, 2011, with the five designs with the most votes moving on for final review. 

All entries to the Cinderella Outfit Challenge, including the top five finalists, are still available for viewing by visiting and selecting “Cinderella Outfit Challenge.”

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