Parlando: The COC Blog


Free Concert Series Highlights for May and June

Infusion Dance

The 2014/2015 season of the Free Concert Series is almost at a close. Be sure to stop by and catch the last shows of our ninth season, including 20th-century works, a world premiere and even bebop! Read on to discover some of the concert highlights coming in May and June; you could say we've been saving the best for last!

Thursday, May  7, 2015
12 — 1 p.m.
Kara Huber, piano

Quickly gaining an international reputation for her extraordinary prowess and flair for contemporary music, award-winning American pianist Kara Huber shows that, in the right hands, piano études can be fun and funky. The program also features the world premiere of a new work written just for her by Andy Villemez.

Thursday, May  14, 2015
12 — 1 p.m.
Folk Impressions
Shelley Brown, flute
James Shields, clarinet
Aya Miyagawa and Nancy Kershaw, violin
Josh Greenlaw, viola
Rebecca Morton, cello
Lori Gemmell, harp

Artists of the COC Orchestra and guest harpist Lori Gemmell perform works by Arnold Bax, Béla Bartók and Maurice Ravel. In the early 20th century, Bax, Bartók and Ravel found themselves in the midst of great change, chaos and war. Perhaps in response to this pressure, all three of the works in this program were influenced by their composer's love affair with a particular pastoral region.

Tuesday, May  19, 2015
12 — 1 p.m.
Songs and Dances of Death
Ekaterina Gubanova, mezzo-soprano
Rachel Andrist, piano

Internationally acclaimed Russian mezzo-soprano Ekaterina Gubanova (currently making her COC mainstage debut as Judith in Bluebeard’s Castle) performs Mussorgsky’s devastatingly beautiful song cycle Songs and Dances of Death.

Wednesday, May, 20, 2015
12 — 1 p.m.
The Diary of One Who Disappeared
Charlotte Burrage, mezzo-soprano
Owen McCausland, tenor

Tenor Owen McCausland and mezzo-soprano Charlotte Burrage perform in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre one last time as members of the Ensemble Studio, before graduating from the program this spring. They present Janáček’s intensely dramatic song cycle, The Diary of One Who Disappeared.

Thursday, May 21, 2015
12 — 1 p.m.
Harawi: Songs of Love and Death
Krisztina Szabó, mezzo-soprano
Christopher Mokrzewski, piano

Acclaimed Canadian mezzo-soprano Krisztina Szabó (currently singing the role of The Woman in the COC’s Erwartung) and pianist Christopher Mokrzewski (of Toronto's Against the Grain Theatre) unite to perform Olivier Messiaen’s exquisitely beautiful and deeply moving song cycle, Harawi (Songs of Love and Death). The piece is part of a trilogy of works embracing the Tristan myth and the concept of the simultaneous fulfillment of love and death.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015
12 — 1 p.m.
Instruments are for Surgeons
Cadence Vocal Quartet

Closing out the season is Cadence, Canada’s premier a cappella vocal ensemble. Famous for their infectious energy and uncanny verve, the group has been wowing audiences across the country and around the world for over 15 years. Whether performing classics by Joni Mitchell or Louis Prima, bebop standards or cheeky arrangement of 1980s hits, their hypnotic blend of complex harmonies, intricate arrangements, vocal dexterity and on-stage antics are simply irresistible!


Which concerts are you most looking forward to? Share it with us in the comments!

Banner credit: Víkingur Ólafsson. Photo: Kevin Lloyd

Posted by Kristin McKinnon / in Free Concert Series / comments (1) / permalink


Artist Basics: John Relyea


Canadian bass John Relyea continues to distinguish himself as one of today's finest singing actors. Hear him prove it onstage when he appears in our production of Bluebeard's Castle/Erwartung this May, and read on to discover more about this Toronto-born international sensation!    

What he’s doing with us: John will be singing the role of the dark Duke Bluebeard in the first opera in the iconic double-bill, Bluebeard's Castle.


John as Duke Bluebeard in the Seattle Opera presentation of the Canadian Opera Company’s production of Bluebeard’s Castle, 2009. Photo: Rozarii Lynch

Where you might have seen him: Previously, John has appeared onstage in many of the world’s most celebrated opera houses including the Metropolitan Opera; San Francisco Opera (where he is an alumnus of the Merola Opera Program and a former Adler Fellow); Lyric Opera of Chicago; Seattle Opera; Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; Paris Opera; Bayerische Staatsoper; Vienna State Opera; Theater an der Wien; and the Mariinksy Theater.

(l-r) Malgorzata Walewska as Judith and John Relyea as Duke Bluebeard in the Seattle Opera presentation of the Canadian Opera Company’s production of Bluebeard’s Castle, 2009. Photo: Rozarii Lynch

His past roles include the title roles in Attila, Le Nozze di Figaro, Bluebeard’s Castle, Don Quichotte, Attila, and Aleko; Zaccaria in Nabucco, Bertram in Roberto le Diable, Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor, Colline in La Bohème, Don Alfonso in Lucrezia Borgia, Don Basilio in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Alidoro in La Cenerentola, Giorgio in I puritani, Banquo in Macbeth, Garibaldo in Rodelinda, Méphistophélès in both Faust and La Damnation de Faust, the four villains in Les contes d’Hoffmann, Escamillo in Carmen, Marke in Tristan und Isolde, Caspar in Der Freischutz, Nick Shadow in The Rake’s Progress, Collatinus in The Rape of Lucretia, and King René in Iolanta. He last appeared onstage with the COC as the four villains in our 2012 production of The Tales of Hoffmann.

(l-r) Keri Alkema as Giulietta and John Relyea as Dapertutto in the Canadian Opera Company production of The Tales of Hoffmann, 2012. Photo: Chris Hutcheson

John is also in high demand as a concert artist, appearing regularly with orchestras such as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Pittsburgh Symphony, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, the Philharmonia Orchestra, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and the Berlin Philharmonic. 

John Relyea as the Nightwatchman (start at 2:26) in the Metropolitan Opera production of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, 2001.

He has appeared at various festivals, including Tanglewood, Ravinia, Blossom, Cincinnati May, Vail, Lanaudière, Salzburg, Edinburgh, Lucerne and Mostly Mozart, and in the BBC Proms.

John will be making a role debut as King Philip II in Verdi’s Don Carlo this summer at the Escorial in Spain. Be sure to catch him while he's here in Bluebeard's Castle, part of the iconic Bluebeard/Erwartung double-bill!

See John Relyea as Bluebeard in our current production of Bluebeard's Castle/Erwartung. For more information and to buy tickets, click here

Photo credit (banner): Shirley Suarez 

Posted by Kiersten Hay / in Bluebeard/Erwartung / comments (0) / permalink


In Memory: Peter Collins


The COC is greatly saddened by the news of the passing of Peter Collins, COC Ensemble Studio member from 2001-2004, who is remembered as a great friend and colleague with a beautiful tenor voice. We look back at some of the productions he was involved with, and wish his family and friends comfort in their time of grief. 


The Magic Flute

Peter Collins, third from the left, in the Ensemble Studio production of The Magic Flute, 2005. Photo: Michael Cooper


Coffee Cantata


Peter Collins, centre figure, in the Ensemble Studio production of The Coffee Cantata, 2003. Photo: Michael Cooper


Live Performance

Handel's Messiah by Headwaters' Concert Choir, St.Marks Anglican Church, 2007.



2006/2007 Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk - Zinovy understudy
Das Rheingold - Loge & Froh understudy

2005/2006 Wozzeck - Drum Major understudy 
The Magic Flute - First Armed Man/Priest/Ensemble
Götterdämmerung - chorus (and Norma chorus)

2004/2005 The Handmaid's Tale - Commander X

2003/2004  Peter Grimes - Peter Grimes (understudy)
Dido and Aeneas - Sailor
Coffee Cantata - Tenor (understudy)
Turandot - Prince of Persia & Calaf (understudy)
Die Walküre - Siegmund (understudy)

2002/2003  Queen of Spades - Tchekalinsky
Queen of Spades - Hermann (understudy)
Turn of the Screw - Prologue/Quint
Jenůfa - Lača (understudy)
A Masked Ball  - Magistrate & Gustavo (understudy)
Madama Butterfly - Pinkerton (understudy)

2001/2002  Il tabarro/Cavalleria rusticana - Peddlar (chorus) & Tinca (understudy)
Giulio Cesare in Egitto - Curio
Salome - Fourth Jew
Il Viaggio a Reims - Gelsomino
Boris Godunov - Simpleton (understudy)

Posted by Kiersten Hay / in In Memory / comments (0) / permalink

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