Parlando: The COC Blog


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.

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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 (

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Alexander Neef Introduces CinéTFO+'s Sunday Opera Series

Stefano Secco as Roméo and Nino Machaidze as Juliette in Arena di Verona's 2011 production of Roméo et Juliette.

This fall, spend your Sunday nights at the opera in your own living room with COC General Director Alexander Neef and CinéTFO+'s Sunday opera program! At 8 p.m. each Sunday, from September 22 to October 20, watch as Alexander introduces each of the late 19th-century French operas featured below and shares his insights about the productions, history and cast.

Natalie Dessay and Rolando Villazon in the Gran Teatre de Liceu's 2007 production of Manon

Sunday, September 22, 2013, 8 p.m. - Massenet's Manon, Grand Teatre del Liceu, 2007

This production of Massenet's tragic opera features superstars Natalie Dessay and Rolando Villazón as the two devoted but suffering lovers who are never quite on the same page as they desperately try to hold on to their romance. Director David McVicar uses an amphitheatre-like setting and features dancer-actors in complex choreographies, reflecting the action and inner thoughts of the leads. Not a production to miss, you can watch a clip from Manon and the Chevalier’s cheerful Act II duet on YouTube.

A scene from the Opera Comique's 2008 production of L'etoile

Sunday, September 29, 2013, 8 p.m. - Chabrier's L'étoile, Opéra Comique, Paris, 2008

This classic opéra bouffe by Emmanuel Chabrier has encountered a new popularity of late. The late 19th-century opera deals with a menacing monarch, a series of mistaken identities, botched romantic entanglements and not one, but two marriages at the end! The Opéra Comique production is colourful and whimsical to match the fantastical tone of the opera, and lends itself nicely to the light-hearted plot.

Josè Maria Lo Monaco as Carmen in the Opéra de Lyon's 2012 production of Carmen

Sunday, October 6, 2013, 8 p.m. - Bizet's Carmen, Opéra de Lyon, 2012

This popular production of Bizet's Carmen wowed and stunned the opera world last year, with a very Moulin Rouge-inspired staging that turned an opera about revolutionaries into an opera about the bourgeois lifestyle and those who fight against it. José Maria Lo Monaco plays a stunning Carmen, a woman who wants to be watched but will control exactly how you see her, a woman with no qualms about shifting her affections from the soft-hearted Don José (Yonghooon Lee) to the exciting Escamillo (Giorgio Caoduro.)

Clémence Tilquin as Clairette and Mathieu Abelli as Ange Pitou in the Opéra de Lausanne's 2011 production of La fille de Madame Angot

Sunday, October 13, 2013, 8 p.m. - Lecocq's La fille de Madame Angot, Opéra de Lausanne, 2011

One of the most successful French light operas around, La fille de Madame Angot deals with orphan Clairette who is bethrothed to an honest wig-maker but has her sights set on a dashing young revolutionary writer instead. After she makes her intentions known by publicly reciting one of the poet's controversial pieces, she's arrested and discovers that her writer may not be what he seems! The Opéra de Lausanne production reveals a bright and colourful France, reflecting the ambitions and dreams of the young people at the heart of the story.

Sunday, October 20, 2013, 8 p.m. - Gounod's Roméo et Juliette, Arena di Verona, 2011

What could be more perfect for Gounod's popular adaptation of Shakespeare's beloved romantic tragedy, than a performance in fair Verona? The two star-crossed lovers, played by Nino Machaidze and Stefano Secco, charm each other and the audiences in this 2011 performance set in Verona’s ancient arena with a large cast, fleshing out Shakespeare's story about two warring families. Check out the trailer above for a preview of this extravagant production. 


Photos: (top) Stefano Secco as Roméo and Nino Machaidze as Juliette in Arena di Verona's 2011 production of Roméo et Juliette. Photo by ENNEVI; (middle) Natalie Dessay as Manon and Rolando Villazón as des Grieux in Grand Teatre del Liceu's 2007 production of Manon; (middle) A scene from the Opera Comique's 2008 production of L'etoile. Photo by Eric Mahoudeau; (middle) José Maria Lo Monaco as Carmen in the Opéra de Lyon's 2012 production of Carmen. Photo by J. Louis Fernandez; (middle) Clémence Tilquin as Clairette and Mathieu Abelli as Ange Pitou in the Opéra de Lausanne's 2011 production of La fille de Madame Angot. Photo by Jacques Croisier.

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