On November 25, 2014, seven finalists will take to the mainstage of the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts for the Ensemble Studio Competition, the feature event of Centre Stage gala. The event will be hosted by world-renowned Canadian tenor Ben Heppner, and the singers will be accompanied by the internationally acclaimed COC Orchestra conducted by COC Music Director Johannes Debus. To watch the competition and see Canada's rising opera stars, visit our Centre Stage website and buy your tickets today! Over the next two weeks, follow along on Parlando as we introduce you to each of our finalists.
DIMITRI KATOTAKIS, BARITONE
As a toddler growing up in Toronto, Dimitri Katotakis would stand in his diapers ‘conducting’ Beethoven symphonies in front of a speaker system. “My parents always knew I had the performing bug,” he says. So it was only natural for him to attend Etobicoke School for the Arts, where he performed in several musicals and eventually discovered opera.
“I found opera to be extremely captivating the first time I saw a show and I have never looked back,” says Dimitri. “I loved how the music of opera can make a story feel both hugely intimate and grand at the same time. Performing in or seeing a well-realized opera is like getting a powerful shot of artistic life.”
Dimitri’s studies led him to McGill University where he’s currently pursuing his master’s degree. Recent roles at McGill include Demetrius in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Lorenzo in Capuleti e i Montecchi. He earned his bachelor of music in vocal performance from the University of Toronto where he sang the roles of Belcore in L’elisir d’amore, Guglielmo in Così fan tutte, and M. Lacouf and Le Fils in Les Mamelles de Tiresias. Other credits include Escamillo and Le Dancaïre in Carmen, and Harlekin in Ariadne auf Naxos (Opera NUOVA); Le Podestat in Le Docteur Miracle (Stu&Jess Productions); Masetto in Don Giovanni (Centre for Opera Studies in Italy); Curio in Giulio Cesare (Aradia Ensemble); and in the Chorus of Der Entführung aus dem Serail and Le nozze di Figaro (Opera Atelier).
There are a few roles that Dimitri dreams of singing in the future. “I am particularly fond of the slippery ambiguity of Don Giovanni; the dark, horrible beauty of Tarquinius; the gorgeous passion of Silvio; [and] the charming glee of Rossini’s Figaro.”
If he wasn’t an opera singer, Dimitri would still be putting his artistic talents to good use. “I’d love to be performing or creating in some other way,” he says. “I love the theatre, dance and poetry way too much to discount them.” But Dimitri acknowledges his scientific side as well. “I find the inherent ‘tinkering’ and order of chemistry really quite fun.”
In addition to opera, staying active is very important to Dimitri. “I find few things as comforting as pushing myself while at the gym or running,” he says. “I also enjoy fencing, tennis, and my nose is usually buried in one book or another.” He’s also a big board game fan, which is one way for him to stay connected with friends and family.
Wherever Dimitri’s operatic career takes him, he knows that his “big supportive family” and mentors have his back. “I had very supportive and caring music instructors and they nurtured in me a deep love for communicating through music from an early age,” he says. “It’s really comforting to be able to spend my time working on trying to get closer to such a powerful art.”
The Ensemble Studio Competition is Tuesday, November 25, 2014. Tickets to the Ensemble Studio Competition and Centre Stage cocktail celebration are $100. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit COCCentrestage.ca. You can buy tickets here,
call COC Ticket Services at 416-363-8231 or go to the Four Seasons
Centre for the Performing Arts Box Office (145 Queen St. W.). You can also chat about the event with us on Twitter using #COCCentrestage.
Posted by Kristin McKinnon / in Centre Stage / comments (0) / permalink
Zoe Band, Mezzo-soprano
Mezzo-soprano Zoe Band’s life revolves around music. “My hobby, joy, job, and passion is music. When I’m not listening to it, I’m working to make money to pay for lessons,” she says. “When I have time to myself, I practice!”
Born and raised in Toronto, Zoe got her start singing in choir and playing classical guitar. Her guitar teacher’s wife was a singing teacher and “from there it began.”
Zoe studied music at the Peabody Conservatory, earning her bachelor and master of music in voice performance. Her roles with Peabody Opera included Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Miss Benson in Lakmé, Ferdinand in Ariel’s Tempest, Betty Parris in The Crucible, Anna in The Trio and Zinnie in Dora. She has also appeared as Lucretia in The Rape of Lucretia (HexaCollective); Hansel in Hansel and Gretel (Toronto Summer Opera and Little Patuxtent Opera); and Patricia Hutton in Camelot Requiem (The Figaro Project).
One day, she hopes to add Cherubino in The Marriage of Figaro to her repertoire, and she’d especially love to sing the title role Handel’s Ariodante. “What a role!”
If she wasn’t pursuing an opera career, you might find Zoe working in psychology or using her dramatic talents in other ways. “I love entertaining. If I couldn’t sing, I would hope to act.”
So what is it about opera that Zoe finds so compelling?
“For me, opera is a bridge between the real and romanticized world. It can be challenging and intellectual, and yet calming and spiritual, expressing the full range of human emotions,” she says. “When I’m performing, I feel a freedom to fully express who I am.”
Posted by Kristin McKinnon / in Centre Stage / comments (1) / permalink
by Michael Lewandowski
For over 30 years, students from all across Ontario have been inspired and delighted by the magic of live opera performance. The operas developed for the Glencore Ensemble Studio School Tour are adapted or created specifically for young audiences, and the artists perform in full costume with sets, props and piano accompaniment. The operas are performed in English and an informal question-and-answer period with the cast immediately follows each performance.
We asked COC Stage Manager Michael Lewandowski to share a day in the life on the road with the Ensemble Studio School Tour, as they perform The Scorpions' Sting: An Egyptian Myth. Read on for his account of an average day on tour!
The Scorpions' Sting: An Egyptian Myth will also be presented at the Royal Ontario Museum on November 29th at 11am, free with museum admission! Find out more about the event here.
View The Scorpions' Sting Performance Locations in a full screen map
First day of The Scorpions' Sting rehearsal. As a Stage Manager I'm responsible for keeping everyone informed of the schedule and keeping track of everything that happens in rehearsal. I'm the eyes and ears for everyone who may not be in the room. My job is to keep all the departments informed of any changes or needs the production may have. At the end of each day I send out rehearsal notes, that each department receives (Music, Wardrobe, Props, Wigs etc). On our first day, our director Joel Ivany discussed his vision for this production, and we ended the day by having a full sing-through of the opera with our Musical Director Jennifer Szeto.
I am always the first person to arrive at work on tour. I start my day by picking up props and costume pieces that may have been damaged the day before, and our lovely COC staff fixed for us. I pack everything in our van, and do a quick inspection of the vehicle. I have to make sure everyone is safe and the van is ready for a full day of travel. The COC school tour has been lucky to have Glencore as our sponsor on the tour for a number of years. Every morning we put up our fancy Glencore sponsorship decals on the van, which also direct the public to our website, where they can follow the tour. Our Musical Director Jennifer Szeto was happy to help with this task today.
The van has to fit everything we may need on tour. This not only includes our performers, but also our full set, props, costumes, keyboard, first aid kit and anything else we may need on the road.
Our first stop, School Number #1. We always arrive an hour before the start of the opera. We start by checking in with the main office, and find the best location for us to unload the van.
Everyone in the cast is responsible for helping with the set-up. This includes putting the full set together, unpacking costumes, and setting props needed for the show. As you can see above, Erica, Karine, Clarence & JP are busy at work.
Clarence helps put up the finishing touches. Once the set is complete, the cast changes into costume and warms up.
The completed set.
As a group we have to adapt to wherever we perform, as each school is different. Our change room is often the gym storage room. Being the Stage Manager on tour is a lot like being a mom sometimes, "no time to play, time to get into costume."
My view during the show. I'm well-hidden behind the set, and I'm responsible for receiving and handing off props, helping with quick costume changes, as well as operating the puppets in the show.
After the performance we do a 10-minute question-and-answer period with the kids. After that we load everything up into the van and drive over to School #2, where we repeat it all over again. On a typical day we do two shows within the Greater Toronto Area, however we sometimes travel overnight.
On this particular day we drove to Kingston in order to do performances in Gananoque and Napanee the next day. This sometimes makes for a long day, as we started at 8:30 a.m., did two shows in Toronto, then drove for three hours to get to Kingston. The cast can rest as soon as we arrive at the hotel, however my day continues for a few more hours. I have to do laundry from that day, as well as fill out a detailed show report, which gets sent back to COC, so everyone can keep up with what is happening on tour. I also have to check any e-mails from schools we may be visiting the next day, to answer any questions they may have.
Once all the work is done, we all enjoy a well-deserved evening off. We spend a lot of time together on the road, and we become like a travelling circus. It helps to have a great group of people that enjoy what they do; we have a lot of fun together. Not too many late nights for us, as tomorrow we do it all over again, and drive back to Toronto after two shows.
To learn more about the Glencore Ensemble Studio School Tour, visit coc.ca/SchoolTour
Follow the School Tour teams on Twitter with #BremenCOC and #ScorpionsCOC
Posted by Kiersten Hay / in Ensemble Studio / comments (0) / permalink
Sara Fulgoni in the COC production of Bluebeard's Castle. Photo: Michael Cooper © 2001