Parlando: The COC Blog


Anatomy of an Opera: Peter Grimes

Peter Grimes

This fall, alongside Puccini's romantic La Bohème, the Canadian Opera Company presents Benjamin Britten's powerful opera, Peter Grimes. Starring legendary tenor Ben Heppner in the title role, and Ensemble Studio graduate soprano Ileana Montalbetti as Ellen Orford, this production marks the first COC performance of Peter Grimes in a decade, and the first staging of the opera at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. 

The story of Peter Grimes is based on the "Peter Grimes" section of George Crabbe's epic poem The Borough (to honour the man who gave birth to the character, Britten wrote Crabbe in as a silent character in the opera) and the opera deals with village life, persecution and hope. In 2013, the opera is experiencing a surge of interest due to the 100th anniversary of Britten's birth, most notably an interesting staging at the Aldeburgh Festival (where Crabbe was born and Britten lived) with Peter Grimes staged outside on the beach

To better understand Britten's seminal work, watch our Peter Grimes Anatomy of an Opera video below.


Peter Grimes runs from October 5 to 26 at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. Learn more about the production and buy tickets here.

Photo credits: Nicholas Bakopoulos-Cooke as John and Stuart Skelton as Peter Grimes in the Opera Australia production of Peter Grimes, 2009. Photo: Branco Gaica

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Free Concert Series Highlights for September & October

Nagata Shachu's 2010 performance in the Free Concert Series.

Are you finding it difficult to choose from all the exciting concerts featured in the Free Concert Series in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre this fall? We understand! With 14 wildly diverse concerts, ranging from classical recitals, to swinging jazz, to heart-pounding percussion ensembles, the choices seem endless. To help you out, we've highlighted six of the must-see concerts in September and October.

Thursday, September 26, 2013 - 12 p.m. - Artists of the COC Ensemble Studio & Simone Osborne - Meet the Young Artists

The season begins with a special performance dedicated to the COC's former General Director Lotfi Mansouri, who passed away in August. His legacy lives on through the vibrant young artists in the program he created 33 years ago. In addition to the current Ensemble Studio members introducing themselves with their favourite arias, the concert features a special guest appearance by Ensemble Studio graduate Simone Osborne, our Musetta in La Bohème. Be sure to arrive early, as this concert is always a popular one.

Can't make it this time? Artists of the Ensemble Studio next perform on Wednesday, October 9, in a tribute to Benjamin Britten.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013 - 12 p.m. - Morgan Childs QuartetSwinging on a Star

A formidable force at the vanguard of the Canadian jazz scene, drummer Morgan Childs leads a dream team quartet consisting of award-winning saxophonist Kelly Jefferson, former Boss Brass pianist Dave Restivo, and one of Toronto’s hottest bassists, Jon Maharaj. Their playful mix of standards and original tunes embrace the romanticism and swing of yesteryear, while showcasing the exuberant edge and modern groove of the new generation. Watch this exciting new ensemble perform in the clip below.

Thursday, October 3, 2013 - 12 p.m. - Hank Knox - Have Harpsichord, Will Travel

Montreal-based harpsichordist Hank Knox bridges the gap between the study of early music on historic instruments and the vibrant, contemporary culture of our day. The culmination of his harpsichord road trip across the Prairies, Knox stops off in Toronto for a sparkling program of musical gems by Byrd, Frescobaldi, Rameau, Geminiani and Bach. He describes his passion for early music and the harpsichord in the video below.

Thursday, October 10, 2013 - 12 p.m. - Nagata Shachu - Hibiki! Echoes of Japan

Celebrating their 15th season, internationally acclaimed taiko ensemble Nagata Shachu returns to the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre with an unforgettable hour of exhilarating and evocative music. From the thrilling assault of an arsenal of taiko drums to the mesmerizing melodies of bamboo flutes and traditional Japanese stringed instruments, Nagata Shachu masterfully combines unbounded spirit and passion with the highest levels of musicianship and discipline. Check out the video below for a preview.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013 - 12 p.m. - Robert Pomakov and The Gryphon Trio - Celebrating the Bard of the Ukraine

Canadian bass Robert Pomakov (performing on the mainstage in Peter Grimes) joins the acclaimed Gryphon Trio for the world premiere of a newly commissioned work by Ukrainian composer Bohdana Frolyak, based on a text by the legendary 19th-century Ukrainian poet and painter, Taras Shevchenko, and the performance of works by Glinka, Tchaikovsky and Ibert. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013 - 12 p.m. - Artists of the COC Orchestra - Britten@100

Artists of the COC Orchestra (Aya Miyagawa and Ashley Vandiver, violins; Joshua Greenlaw, viola; Alastair Eng, cello; Mark Rogers, oboe) celebrate the centenary of Benjamin Britten's birth with two of the composer’s most compelling chamber works: the rarely heard Phantasy Quartet, an early work showcasing Britten's fondness for the oboe, and the powerful and emotionally charged String Quartet No. 2 in C Major.

The Free Concert Series presents weekly performances in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre from September until June. Click here for a full list of all of our performances, and follow the Free Concert Series on Facebook for weekly images and images. 

Photo Credits: All photos by Chris Hutcheson unless otherwise noted. (top) Nagata Shachu, 2010; (middle) Artists of the COC Ensemble Studio; (middle) Robert Pomakov and The Gryphon Trio, 2011. Photo: Karen Reeves; (bottom) Artists of the COC Orchestra, 2012.

Posted by Kristin McKinnon / in Free Concert Series / comments (0) / permalink


The Big COC Podcast: Episode 18

By Gianmarco Segato, Adult Programs Manager


For Episode 18, our “KICKSTARTING (literally) the fall season” edition, we welcome back Opera Canada editor, Wayne Gooding; Alia Rosenstock, Associate Artist Manager with Dean Artists Management as well as Ali Kashani, the COC’s Associate Director, Institutional Gifts (and opera aficionado.) Gianmarco Segato, the COC’s Adult Programs Manager, is your host.

You can tell things are heating up in opera land as we had lots to talk about this week:

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 (

Posted by Danielle D'Ornellas / in The Big COC Podcast / comments (0) / permalink

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