Parlando: The COC Blog


Set/Stage: Pyramus and Thisbe


This fall we’re excited to present the world premiere of Canadian composer Barbara Monk Feldman’s Pyramus and Thisbe in a brand new Canadian Opera Company production. We took a field trip up to the COC Scene Shop to give you an exclusive first look as the sets are being constructed in anticipation of opening night on October 20, 2015!  

The Set 


Three massive panels, partly inspired by the Abstract Expressionist canvases of American artist Mark Rothko, help divide the triple bill's three operas into three separate spaces, allowing the three scores to flow into each other without interruption.

The scale of Pyramus and Thisbe’s set demands a huge working space—luckily the COC Scene Shop’s converted fruit distribution factory provides the perfect space to house the multi-story wooden backdrop.



One of the identifying factors of the set, beyond its beautiful deep pine-green colour, is a long bench extending its entire length. These benches will be the chorus’s home for the majority of the opera.


When constructing a new production, many tests are undertaken to see which media best suit the theme, space and budget. For Pyramus and Thisbe, the creative team decided to use layers of acrylic paint on a heavily-grained wood in order to highlight natural textures and rich colour palettes.   

After finding the perfect colour mix, the paint is applied to giant sheets of wood using brushes set on long wooden handles, set at about the angle of a hockey stick.


The paint is applied in various layers in order to achieve the desired consistency and colour throughout the multiple background and floor panels.  

Because the wood is so deeply textured, the paint is absorbed to different levels, resulting in a deeper stain in certain areas.


After they are painted, the floor panels need to be allowed to dry completely undisturbed in order for the paint to come to a perfect, untouched finish.


In order to see this stunning set in its full glory (and populated with singers!), buy your tickets today for this innovative program, featuring the world premiere of Canadian composer Barbara Monk Feldman’s Pyramus and Thisbe along with Claudio Monteverdi's Baroque classics Lamento d'Arianna and Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda. See you at the opera!

For more information on Pyramus and Thisbe and to buy tickets, click here.

Photos: Kiersten Hay

Posted by Kiersten Hay / in Pyramus and Thisbe / comments (0) / permalink


Inside the Wardrobe: La Traviata


Take a peek into Violetta’s wardrobe! Costume designer Cait O’Connor talks about how Violetta’s clothes reflect her place in society and her personal choices. Catch La Traviata this fall from October 8 to November 6, 2015 to see the costumes in their full glory! 

Act I


"Violetta is incredibly charismatic and bewitching. She possesses an effortless glamour. At the same time she is a fragile girl, trapped within an opulence of her own creation. She has to costume herself as a manifestation of decadence in order to survive in her world." 


Act II, Scene I

"When Violetta meets Alfredo their connection is immediate, deep and honest. We see Violetta in their country house, truly at home for the first time. Her presence and ease is palpable. I referenced 19th century pre-Raphaelite photography and sepia colors as an inspiration for this look."


Act II, Scene II

"As Violetta is ripped away from Alfredo, she loses her dream of love. She returns to Paris armored in an enormous gown representing the frantic ecstasy which she must return to."


To learn more about La Traviata and to buy tickets, click here

Image Credits (top-bottom): A scene from La Traviata (Lyric Opera of Chicago, 2013). Photo: Todd Rosenberg; Preliminary costume sketches by designer Cait O’Connor.

Posted by Kiersten Hay / in La Traviata / comments (1) / permalink


Are YOU the next Canadian Opera Star?

One of the most beloved jewels in the COC crown is the COC Ensemble Studio: Canada's premier training program for young opera professionals. Founded in 1980, the Ensemble Studio provides advanced instruction, hands-on experience, and the practical career development skills necessary to succeed as a self-employed artist in a highly competitive international environment.

On November 3, 2015, the Canadian Opera Company’s fundraising gala Centre Stage takes place at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, featuring the competitive vocal showcase of the COC’s Ensemble Studio Competition. The Ensemble Studio Competition features singers from the final round of auditions for the COC Ensemble Studio. 

Competing before a public audience, for cash prizes ranging in value from $1,500 – $5,000, finalists in the Ensemble Studio Competition perform from the mainstage of the Four Seasons Centre, accompanied by the internationally acclaimed COC Orchestra conducted by COC Music Director Johannes Debus. 

Think you have what it takes to be Canada's next opera star? Check out the Centre Stage webpage here and then apply here today! Send in your submissions quickly though, as applications close on September 13, 2015.


CENTRE STAGE: Ensemble Studio Competition
November 3, 2015

Apply online at by September 13, 2015


Posted by Kiersten Hay / in Ensemble Studio / 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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