Parlando: The COC Blog


Ileana Montalbetti wins Met National Council district auditions

For most of us the winter holidays are a time to relax, but for some young artists, it's a time of anticipation as they get ready for some of the most important auditions of their careers. Ileana Montalbetti, one of the rising stars of the COC’s Ensemble Studio, is preparing to compete in the Regional level of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions on Jan. 18, 2012 in New York, having most recently won the New York District round in November. We caught up with her on the phone (she’s back home on the Prairies for the holidays) to talk about her exciting win and what’s next for her.

Competing in the Met National Council Auditions isn’t entirely a new process for Ileana: in 2009 she won the Buffalo District and sang at the regionals in Pittsburgh, but didn't advance past that round. She's much calmer about the process the second time around. “This is one of the last years that I can do [the Met National Council audition], so I said let’s just go, and whatever happens, happens!” said Ileana.

However, this year she faced a much bigger district than in 2009 – which meant more competition. “People often travel to different districts because they think it will guarantee a win. Everyone always warns against New York because everybody goes there, but I just thought, I don’t care, I’ll go there.” Nerves didn't overpower her, despite the high stakes at the auditions, she said. “Of course there is a bit of nerves, but I think it more translated into this feeling of adrenaline: I am excited to sing, and I get to sing today and how awesome is that? It’s just another day that we get to do what we love and that’s pretty great.”

In front of a three-person panel, Ileana performed her go-to audition starting piece, “Es gibt ein Reich” from Ariadne auf Naxos. Her second piece, requested by the jury from her list of arias, was “Porgi amor” from Le Nozze di Figaro.

In the weeks to come, Ileana will be tweaking and rehearsing her list of arias as she gets ready for the regionals. And, there is one more thing to be done pre-audition: “Possibly getting a new outfit! For this next round I will wear something different than for the District audition, because it’s a bigger event, in a sense.”

Ileana’s recent successes didn’t end with the Met audition. The day after winning at the New York District, she auditioned for the Sullivan Foundation and received a $5,000 Encouragement Award. The Sullivan Foundation’s goal is to identify talented young singers and help them develop professional careers through providing financial support. 

You can hear Ileana perform with other members of the COC Ensemble Studio in a free concert titled In Praise of Women on Jan. 17 at 12 p.m., as well as in a solo recital, Les Adieux, on Feb. 23 at 12 p.m. Both of the concerts are part of the Free Concert Series and take place in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.

The Met National Council auditions are held across Canada and the United States in 42 audition Districts, which fall within 14 audition Regions. 

Ileana as Elettra in the COC's Ensemble Studio performance of Idomeneo, 2010. 
Photo: Michael Cooper

Ileana performing in May 2011 in the COC's Free Concert Series.
Photo: Karen E. Reeves

Posted by Maria Lioutaia / in Ensemble Studio / comments (0) / permalink


Gifts for the Operatically-Inclined


Chances are good that you still have some holiday shopping left to do, and if you're reading this, chances are also very good that you or someone you love is interested in opera.

So perhaps you might consider:

  • Treating the diva/divo in your life to a lavish night at the opera with our Diva Delicious package. Choose between the beloved Tosca and the haunting Love from Afar, then pick one of two restaurants conveniently close to the Four Seasons Centre. Packages start at $110 per person. 
  • Giving them a better view with a pair of opera glasses. Contact podcaster Gianmarco Segato (email or phone 416-306-2308) for more details.
  • Letting them direct their perfect opera experience with a COC gift certificate, available in any denomination and redeemable at the box office and the opera shop.
  • Sending them a personalized opera e-Card.

And, of course, you can always treat yourself! We hope to see you at the opera in the new year!

Photo: A scene from the Canadian Opera Company production of War and Peace.  © Michael Cooper 2008

Posted by Cecily Carver / in Opera Shop / comments (0) / permalink


Getting to Know Kaija Saariaho's Music

Following last winter's Nixon in China, by celebrated American composer John Adams, our audience once again has a chance to hear an opera written by a living composer: Kaija Saariaho's Love from Afar. Love from Afar has been produced all over the world since its premiere at the Salzburg Festival in the year 2000, and is one of the 21st century's most successful operas.

Still, there's a good chance you're less familiar with Saariaho's music than Puccini's. With the help of YouTube, you can get to know some of Saariaho's works, and publisher Chester Novello has made detailed program notes available for many of her compositions.

You'll also have the opportunity to hear some of these works (as well as see her in the flesh) in some upcoming free concerts at the Four Seasons Centre: on Jan. 31, the Elmer Isler Singers will perform some of her chamber and vocal music, and on Feb. 2 there will be a concert of her vocal works performed by members of the Ensemble Studio. The composer will attend both concerts, as well as host the Feb. 2 concert and participate in a Q&A with the audience.

Lonh (meaning "distant" or "far away"), a work for soprano and electronics, is closely related to Love from Afar and was in fact composed as a "study" for the opera, with some of its melodic material appearing in the opera's score. The text derives from a poem by the real-life Jaufré Rudel, the medieval troubador who is the opera's protagonist. The full text and program notes can be found at Chester Novello. You'll have a chance to hear this work performed live at the Feb. 2 free concert in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre.


Karita Mattila performs Parfum de l'instant with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra:


These videos of Prelude, for piano, and Couleurs du vent [program notes], for the flute, allow you to follow along with the score: 


Many excerpts from Love from Afar itself can also be found online, including a visually stunning trailer for the production that will be coming to our stage.

Posted by Cecily Carver / in 2011/2012 / comments (0) / permalink

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Sara Fulgoni in the COC production of Bluebeard's Castle. Photo: Michael Cooper © 2001



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