Parlando: The COC Blog


Get in the holiday spirit with COC artists!

By Gianmarco Segato, Adult Programs Manager

This holiday season, many COC artists are getting into the spirit, using their vocal talents to share some truly great seasonal music.

Starting off the list are three singers with a long COC association! Ensemble Studio Alumnae Joni Henson and Virginia Hatfield together with their friend Megan Latham have just released a refreshingly different CD of holiday music, “Christmas at Casa Diva,” which can be purchased here.

While not exactly holiday music, tenor Richard Margison (Salome, 2013) sings the great songs of Italy with the Ontario Philharmonic at Koerner Hall on December 10.

Next, you can catch popular Canadian tenor Ben Heppner (Tristan und IsoldePeter Grimes, 2013) as he joins the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir for their “Festival of Carols” on December 11.

Here's one for the west-coasters! You can catch Ensemble Studio baritone Cameron McPhail (La Bohème, 2013 and our upcoming February 7 Ensemble performance of Così fan tutte) and his wife, soprano Catherine Affleck for an evening of operatic bons bons with the Vancouver Women’s Musical Society on December 11.

This weekend, Ensemble Studio graduates, soprano Jacqueline Woodley, mezzo soprano Krisztina Szabó (Love from Afar, 2012) and Glencore Ensemble Studio School Tour artist, bass Geoffrey Sirett, are part of Against the Grain Theatre’s unusual staged version of Handel’s ubiquitous Messiah on December 14 and 15 – but hurry, the two-show run is already almost sold out!

Catch a 2014/2015 artist this month, as Canadian bass superstar John Relyea (The Tales of Hoffmann, 2012) sings with counter-tenor Lawrence Zazzo (Orfeo ed Euridice, 2011) in the Toronto Symphony Orchestra's annual Messiah on December 17, 18, 20, 21 and 22

If at this point you need a break from all the holiday music, baritone Phillip Addis (La Bohème, 2013) will be giving a recital of German, English and French art song for Music Toronto on December 19.

To cap off the year, our sensational spring 2013 Salome, Erika Sunnegårdh appears in the New Year’s Eve gala concert, “Bravissimo” at Roy Thomson Hall along with Ensemble Studio graduate mezzo soprano Wallis Giunta (Così fan tutte, 2014) and baritone James Westman (Die Fledermaus, 2012).

And finally, Ensemble Studio alumnae Betty Waynne Alison and Neil Craighead ring in the start of the New Year with the Guelph Symphony Orchestra on January 1.

Not an exhaustive list to be sure – but lots of opportunities to hear COC artists this holiday season before we launch our winter operas in January!

Photos: (top) A scene from the Canadian Opera Company's production of Eugene Onegin, 2008; (middle-composite) Jacqueline Woodley. Krisztina Szabó, photo by Bo Huang; (bottom-composite) Erika Sunnegårdh. Wallis Giunta, photo by Barbara Stoneham. 

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The Canadian Opera Company’s third annual Ensemble Studio Competition, 2013!

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Free Concert Series in December

Nancy Walker and Kirk MacDonald in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre, 2013. Photo by Chris Hutcheson
Nancy Walker and Kirk MacDonald in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre, 2013.

Escape the chilly winter weather and cozy up to some warm tunes in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre this December. The days may be short and the nights may be cold, but the mix of jazz, classical and new music in the Free Concert Series this month will help put you in a festive winter mood!

Composer/trombonist Scott Good

Tuesday, December 3, 2013 - 12 p.m. - The Glenn Gould School New Music Ensemble - Power Chords
Under the direction of Brian Current, the talented young musicians of The Glenn Gould School New Music Ensemble present an inventive program for chamber orchestra and small ensembles. This powerful performance features the world premiere of a newly commissioned work by Canadian composer and trombonist Scott Good, along with works by John Rea and Martin Bresnick.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013 - 5:30 p.m. - Elizabeth Shepherd - Rewind
Since bursting onto the international scene in 2006, vocalist/pianist Elizabeth Shepherd has established herself as one of the most alluring and imaginative artists on the scene today. This globetrotting soul-jazz innovator and three-time Juno nominee breathes new life – and soul – into songs both familiar and forgotten in a performance of highlights from her latest album, Rewind. Check out her rendition of "Feeling Good" in the recording below.

 Ensemble Made in Canada. Photo by Bo Huang.

Thursday, December 5, 2013 - 12 p.m. - Ensemble Made in Canada - French Impressions
Rapidly gaining recognition as Canada’s premier piano quartet, the dynamic all-female Ensemble Made in Canada showcases the elegance, energy and intensity of their remarkable ensemble playing in two masterpieces of the French chamber music repertoire: Debussy’s Violin Sonata in G Minor (his final work) and Faure's Piano Quartet in C Minor.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013 - 12 p.m. - Stefan Chaplikov - Hammerklavier
Still in his 20s, Bulgarian rising star Stefan Chaplikov fearlessly scales Beethoven’s monumental Sonata No. 29 in B-flat Major, Op. 106, the “Hammerklavier.” While this demanding work daunts pianists twice his age, Stefan embraces its challenges and rewards with a fierce passion and authority belying his years. Listen to Sokolov's recording of this Mount Everest of piano sonatas below.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013 - 5:30 p.m. - Eliana Cuevas Quintet - Espejo
Canada’s award-winning Latin jazz queen, flanked by some of the country’s top jazz musicians (George Koller, Jeremy Ledbetter, Mark Kelso and Daniel Stone), performs highlights from her highly anticipated and much lauded new recording, Espejo. With the distinctive purity, versatility and dexterity of Eliana's vocals now deeper and more nuanced than ever, this sophisticated and deeply personal oeuvre showcases her vastly expanded range as a composer and performer, taking the audience on an intense and passionate journey of the soul. Preview a song from the album below.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013 - 12 p.m. - Cadence- Cool Yule
Famous for their infectious energy and uncanny verve, Canada’s premier a cappella vocal ensemble will put you in the holiday spirit with this festive program. Whether performing seasonal songs, 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! Hear a preview from their album, Cool Yule, below.

Let us know which December concert you're most looking forward to in the comments below!

The Free Concert Series will break after the concert on December 17 and return on Tuesday, January 7 with pianist Mehdi Ghazi and The Colours of Passion. Have a great holiday and we look forward to seeing you in the new year! 


Photo: (top) Nancy Walker and Kirk MacDonald in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre, 2013. Photo by Karen Reeves; (middle) Composer/trombonist Scott Good; (bottom) Ensemble Made in Canada. Photo by Bo Huang.

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