Parlando: The COC Blog


How is this wet summer affecting our honeybees?

Four Seasons Centre Bees

By Fred Davis, beekeeper of the honeybees that live on the roof the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.

The long, cold winter and the wet, cool spring have had an impact on the health of the hives. It has taken the bees until July to build back up to full force, so we expect a late harvest this year. With so many wet days this summer to boot — which is in total contrast to the long, hot and dry summer we experienced in southwest Ontario last year — it's been pretty challenging to encourage the bee population to grow to its full strength.

I fed sugar water solution to them in mid-June, which is very unusual. Two hives still do not have honey supers on. I have kept them off because if you give the bees too much room to move around, the queen will not lay her eggs in an efficient manner. I hope to put them on the weekend of July 20, which should give them enough time to produce before the long weekend in September.

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The Big COC Podcast: Episode 15 - Tweet seats – ‘Absolutely not!'

By Gianmarco Segato, Adult Programs Manager


For Episode 15, the “Tweet seats – "Absolutely not!"” edition, we welcome back Opera Canada editor Wayne Gooding, opera journalist Joseph So, as well as arts journalist Paula Citron. For the first time, COC Ensemble Studio graduate soprano Simone Osborne joins the chat. Gianmarco Segato, the COC’s Adult Programs Manager, is your host.

It’s the opera “silly season,” but we still managed to find some hot topics to discuss:

Are you out there listening? What would you like us to talk about next time? Let us know by sending us your ideas/comments by commenting here, on Facebook, Twitter or by e-mail (

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Travels with Alexander Neef: Part 2

By Alexander Neef, General Director

In my last post I mentioned that I was off to Europe for a few weeks – a combination of vacation (visiting my family) and work.

As much as I look forward to seeing old friends and colleagues as well as meeting new ones, I don’t especially like spending so much time in airports and on planes, so I try to make it as useful as possible. Between trips, I collect articles, documents, resumés – all kinds of reading material – and it is my “next time I’m on a plane for a long time” pile. I am never without a stack ready to go. It’s daunting, but at least I know I have some dedicated time to get it done.

That pile is helpful in other ways too. Travelling, especially with the time difference overseas, is some of my only uninterrupted planning time, when I can think creatively about possible productions, repertoire and casts for the future. (I’ve got ideas in my head for as far forward as 2021.) It’s a very satisfying way to spend a flight or waiting at an airport.

Long flights have one other advantage: I’m able to watch movies. I have so many evening and weekend obligations during the year that doing normal social things – like going to the cinema – is not possible, so I use plane trips to catch up on current culture.

In the last three years, I’ve become a very good suitcase-packer. It really helps when you know the cities and especially the hotels you’re staying at, because you can plan accordingly. If at all possible, I keep my luggage as a carry-on because it’s just too easy for your bag to get lost between flights. Last fall I was in five cities in Europe over seven days (not my favourite kind of trip), and my suitcase was one day behind me for the entire time. I lived out of my briefcase for the first two days and was fortunate to find a department store near my hotel in Madrid where I could buy a change of clothes. I certainly hope that my bag will accompany me every step of the way this summer!

Another thing I’ve learned the hard way is to always make sure my cell phone charger is in my carry-on bag. Getting stuck at an airport with a dead phone is not ideal. And, not that I want to do a commercial for iPhone, but I have to say that since I got one, it’s made my life so much easier. It’s such a small device, but I can do all my work-related tasks and also have access to a complete entertainment station. Plus, it works great with WiFi, so that saves a lot on roaming charges, and I never feel out of touch.

I’m off in a couple of days, and although I won’t be able to write another post while I’m gone, I promise to tweet as much as possible! Follow me on Twitter @alexanderncoc

Photo Credits: (top) Alexander Neef. Photo:; (bottom) Laura Aylan-Parker, Executive Assistant to the General Director, and COC General Director Alexander Neef. Photo: COC.

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