Parlando: The COC Blog


Centre Stage 2015

Out of a pool of 120 aspiring opera singers from across the country, we selected eight to compete at Centre Stage: Ensemble Studio Competition on November 3, 2015, our annual celebration of the next generation of opera stars selected from nationwide auditions for the COC Ensemble Studio – Canada’s premier training program for young opera professionals. The competition features the young singers vying for cash prizes ranging in value from $1,500 to $5,000.

The young singers featured in the 2015 vocal competition are: mezzo-soprano Emily D’Angelo (Toronto); mezzo-soprano Lauren Eberwein (London, Ontario); soprano Eliza Johnson (Stratford, Ontario); mezzo-soprano Marjorie Maltais (Clermont, Quebec); soprano Samantha Pickett (Kitchener, Ontario); baritone Zachary Read (Halifax); baritone Bruno Roy (Montreal); and mezzo-soprano Pascale Spinney (Laval, Quebec).

[For mobile versions: Emily D’Angelo (Toronto); mezzo-soprano Lauren Eberwein (London, Ontario); soprano Eliza Johnson (Stratford, Ontario); mezzo-soprano Marjorie Maltais (Clermont, Quebec); soprano Samantha Pickett (Kitchener, Ontario); baritone Zachary Read (Halifax); baritone Bruno Roy (Montreal); and mezzo-soprano Pascale Spinney (Laval, Quebec).]

Patrons enjoying the pre-competition cocktail celebration before the 2014 Centre Stage competition.

At Centre Stage, each finalist will give a performance showcasing their vocal technique, as well as artistic and interpretive range, before an audience and panel of judges. First, Second and Third prizes, worth $5,000, $3,000 and $1,500, are awarded, in addition to an Audience Choice Award selected by audience vote, worth $1,500. Select finalists are also invited to join the COC’s 2016/2017 Ensemble Studio, to be announced at a later date.

“The level of operatic talent being trained in this country is incredible, which is why we created an event like Centre Stage in the first place, to celebrate that richness of talent,” says COC General Director Alexander Neef. “We hear many promising voices through the Ensemble Studio audition process but it’s how a singer’s talent, hunger for an opera career and that unquantifiable ‘X’ factor come together that truly sets them apart. Looking at this year’s Centre Stage finalists, the stage is set for an exciting preview of the operatic talent to watch in Canada.”

COC Music Director Johannes Debus applauding the 2014 Centre Stage finalists.

Hosting Centre Stage this year are the competition’s previous winners: soprano Karine Boucher and tenor Charles Sy, both current members of the COC Ensemble Studio. These two rising opera talents will oversee the evening’s vocal fireworks on November 3, when the eight singers perform from the mainstage of Canada’s first purpose-built opera house before an audience of 1,000 people and accompanied by the internationally acclaimed COC Orchestra conducted by COC Music Director Johannes Debus. Also performing is a surprise musical guest joined by the COC Orchestra led by Maestro Debus.

COC General Director Alexander Neef heads the jury for the vocal competition portion of the evening, joined by COC Director of Music and Artistic Administration Roberto Mauro, Director of the COC Ensemble Studio and Orchestra Academy Nina Draganić, and Head of the COC Ensemble Studio Liz Upchurch, as well as Canadian soprano and Ensemble Studio Head Vocal Consultant Wendy Nielsen, who is also a graduate of the COC’s program. The judging panel deliberates on location and announces the competition winners at the event’s conclusion.

In addition to winning the evening’s cash prizes, finalists hope to earn a place in the COC’s Ensemble Studio, which can be a singer’s first step towards an international career. The Centre Stage audience will hear the singers selected to follow in the footsteps of such renowned Ensemble Studio alumni as Ben Heppner, Isabel Bayrakdarian, John Fanning, Wendy Nielsen, David Pomeroy, Joseph Kaiser, Allyson McHardy, Lauren Segal and Krisztina Szabó.

Doors open to the Four Seasons Centre (145 Queen St. W.) at 5:30 p.m. and Centre Stage takes place at 6:30 p.m. in R. Fraser Elliott Hall. Centre Stage Competition tickets are $100 and include a pre-competition cocktail celebration in the Four Seasons Centre’s sparkling Isadore and Rosalie Sharp City Room. Specially priced $35 tickets are also available for patrons between the ages of 16 and 29 through Opera Under 30 sponsored by TD.

The stage set for the 2014 Centre Stage Dinner. 

Following the competition, Centre Stage Dinner guests go on to enjoy an elegant formal dinner from the privileged vantage point of the Four Seasons Centre stage, joined by competition finalists and winners, notable COC artists and key supporters of the opera company. Guests are treated to a culinary experience by critically acclaimed chef David Lee, a rare opportunity to enjoy his gastronomic creations outside of dining at Nota Bene where Lee is the executive chef. Centre Stage Dinner tickets, encompassing the competitive vocal showcase and exclusive black-tie dinner, are $1,500, with a limited number available for purchase.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit, call COC Ticket Services at 416-363-8231 or visit the Four Seasons Centre Box Office (145 Queen St. W.).

To buy competition tickets, click here.
To buy Under 30 tickets sponsored by TD, click here.
For more information about the the Centre Stage Dinner event and how to purchase tickets, please contact the PC Office at 416-363-5801

Photo Credits (top-bottom): Cocktail Reception, Centre Stage, Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. Photo: Jenna Marie Wakani; Ensemble Studio Competition finalists with Music Director, Johanne Debus. Photo: Michael Cooper; Centre Stage Dinner. Photo: Jenna Marie Wakani.

Posted by Kiersten Hay / in Centre Stage / comments (0) / permalink

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



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