Parlando: The COC Blog


The Opera That Changed My Life: GETTING READY TO GO ON STAGE!

This week's The Opera That Changed My Life is a prime example that it is never too late to follow your life's passion. Sometimes all it takes is one life-changing experience to reignite a fire that may have faded long ago.

Kira Braun

In 1975 I belonged to the Canadian Children's Opera Chorus [Ed. Note: Now the Canadian Children's Opera Company], under Dr. Derek Holman. For any young child to belong to a group such as this meant discipline and hard work, but also fun!!! I loved it to my core, and was very fortunate to have been a part of the COC production of Pagliacci with (Canadian baritone) Louis Quilico that same year. After that 1975 production, I had to move away from Toronto; all hopes of continuing with the CCOC, becoming an alumni, and going to opera school faded. I continued in my singing but ended up following another career path, and only dabbled with my voice. Almost 40 years later, I began again with lessons and involvement in the musical community, when I was back in Toronto for good.


Above: a scene from the COC's 1975 production of Pagliacci

I suddenly found myself on stage as an extra (supernumerary) in Dialogues des Carmélites in 2013, and I was bitten fiercely by the desire to fully pursue my passion again. Standing so close to Canadian icons, Isabel Bayrakdarian and Adrianne Pieczonka, was an incredible experience! In the past two years, I've expanded my voice, recorded three CDs, and sung in many wonderful productions. I went to Italy this summer to sing for Richard Bonynge with Operavision Academy, under the direction of Dr. Mary-Lou Vetere and Metropolitan Opera star Aprile Millo! That production of Pagliacci, which I held in my heart for decades, and being part of Carmélites almost 40 years later, changed my life, and I am so excited about what's next!

Above: a scene from the COC's 2013 production of Dialogues des Carmélites

Tell us about The Opera That Changed Your Life by e-mailing your own 100 to 200 word story. It may be featured in an upcoming Parlando post! Learn more here (here for mobile version).

Photo credits (top - bottom): a scene from Carmen (COC, 2016), photo: Gary Beechey; a scene from Pagliacci (COC, 1975), photo: Robert C. Ragsdale; a scene from Dialogues des Carmélites ​(COC, 2013), photo: Michael Cooper

Posted by COC Staff / in TOTCML / comments (0) / permalink


Politics and Love: An Introduction to Norma

Norma, a druid priestess, is torn between love for those she leads, and a secret passion for Pollione, the Roman enemy of her people. She bears him two children before discovering he has begun an affair with her younger acolyte, Adalgisa. From the entangled storylines of Norma, Pollione, and Adalgisa, to the underlying conflict between the Druids and the Romans, Norma is all about relationships. Join us as we introduce you to some helpful background information on this masterpiece, and give you an inside look at the complicated love triangle.

History Behind the Story: Druids Vs. Romans

The Druids during the Iron Age were members of the educated, professional class among the Celtic peoples of Britain, Ireland, and Gaul (modern-day France). Druids included doctors, healers, poets, and most importantly, religious leaders. Unfortunately for us, the Druids believed firmly in oral traditions of passing along knowledge, and left the modern world with the task of piecing together their history through Greek and Roman writings. 

Norma takes place in Gaul around 50 BCE, shortly following the Gallic Wars (58-51 BCE), where Julius Caesar successfully annexed the tribal chiefdoms as part of the Roman Empire. Following this, the Druids first endured suppression from the Romans, followed by a total prohibition of their religious practices. To learn more about the Druids, click here. To learn more about Gaul under Roman rule, click here.

The Love Triangle: A Timeline

This simplified timeline depicts the entanglement of Norma, Pollione, and Adalgisa that persists the entire length of the opera. Click here for a full synopsis of Norma

Photo credit: Marco Berti as Pollione and Sondra Radvanovsky as Norma in Norma (San Francisco Opera, 2014), photo: Cory Weaver

Posted by COC Staff / in Norma / comments (0) / permalink


The Opera That Changed My Life: Field Trips

Interacting with opera from a young age has proven to be an important factor in developing a lifelong relationship with the art. A person's first opera experience, whether as a family outing or a school field trip, should be profound and memorable.

Margarete wolfram

Growing up in a tiny hamlet in post-war Germany, I was fortunate enough to have had a teacher who took the initiative of bringing art to our rural community. He founded a "cultural society," invited itinerant theatre groups to perform in our gym, and organized trips to visit the opera house in the nearest city. I was eight years old when I first attended Wagner's The Flying Dutchman, an experience that ignited in me a passion for opera that I later passed on to my children. I remember attending a performance of Hansel and Gretel at Harbourfront with the three of them. I left the performance temporarily because my youngest, who was only a babe in arms at the time, insisted on joining the vocalization he heard coming from the stage. About nine years later, he joined the singers as a member of the Canadian Children's Opera Chorus [Ed. Note: Now the Canadian Children's Opera Company], and in 1993 he was given the role of the second boy in the COC production of The Magic Flute. He has always remained an ardent opera fan. I consider him a good example that one cannot start early enough sowing the seeds of appreciation for the arts. 


Above: a scene from the COC's 2016 production of Carmen featuring the Canadian Children's Opera Company

Gail Rutenberg

It happened when I was still in public school...probably the late 1940s. Our school took us to a concert version of La Traviata at Massey Hall. We hadn't had any experience with live operatic voices but I was taking piano lessons and loved serious keyboard music. When I heard what I now know was the aria "Sempre Libera," I was entranced, and carried the song in my memory for years. I am now a devoted opera fan, and have enjoyed the COC's productions for years, have been to operas in many countries, and seek out concerts and recitals featuring operatic voices. I count myself as most fortunate to have had this gift which continues to enrich my life.

Above: a scene from the COC's 2015 production of La Traviata

Tell us about The Opera That Changed Your Life by e-mailing your own 100 to 200 word story. It may be featured in an upcoming Parlando post! Learn more here (here for mobile version).

Photo credits (top - bottom): a scene from Carmen (COC, 2016), photo: Gary Beechey; Roberto Gleadow as Dr. Grenvil and Ekaterina Siurina as Violetta in La Traviata (COC, 2015), photo: Michael Cooper

Posted by COC Staff / in TOTCML / 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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