Parlando: The COC Blog


A First Look at Semele

Here's something to whet your appetite for Wednesday's Opera 101 event:

Last Friday, we invited a select group of media backstage at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts to get a first glimpse of the set for Semele, an authentic 450-year-old Chinese temple. The temple was assembled backstage by a team of 10-12 stagehands at the Four Seasons Centre over a period of four nights, and in this time-lapse video you can see the entire process in four minutes:

The temple weighs approximately 17 tonnes and required a specially-built crane to assemble (which you can see in the video). It was also built on top of a special rolling platform so that it can easily be moved on and off the stage to accommodate performances of The Tales of Hoffmann and A Florentine Tragedy/Gianni Schicchi.

In this video from Global News, you can see parts of the temple in close-up as well as interviews with Alexander Neef, Jane Archibald (Semele), and Allyson McHardy (Juno/Ino).

In addition, clothing blog Fashion is My Muse took a closer look at the wigs and costumes, barczablog shared some thoughts about director Zhang Huan and the overall concept for Semele, and CharPo Canada used the event as a springboard to think of the larger question of storytelling in opera, and how to make the story compelling and satisfying. I encourage you to read them all as Semele's opening night (May 9!) draws closer.

Posted by Cecily Carver / in 2011/2012 / comments (0) / permalink


Buoso Donati's Hoard


One of the most distinctive features of the set of our upcoming production of Gianni Schicchi (presented in a double bill with A Florentine Tragedy) has come to be known as "the hoard" – a large heap of detritus representing the accumulated possessions of the wealthy, deceased Buoso Donati. Director Catherine Malfitano envisioned Donati as something of a hoarder, and in dealing with the larger themes of greed and acquisitiveness that permeate Gianni Schicchi, meant the hoard to represent “the things that stay behind when we are gone” (This Toronto Star interview with Catherine Malfitano has more on this theme).

Although it's meant to look almost careless, like the junk pile that accumulates in the hidden corners of many houses, quite a lot of time and thought went into its construction over the last several months. Since the artists clamber up and down the hoard at several points during the opera and often sing atop it, it needed to be sturdy, stable, and climbable. From the Toronto Star article:

Using items sourced from the props room, Craigslist, eBay and even staffers’ homes (one person donated their old TV rabbit ears), the hoard took shape in the scene shop at Christie and Dupont. It was then moved by truck to Front Street and finally to the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, where it jostles for space with the bar scene from The Tales of Hoffman and the Art Deco living room from A Florentine Tragedy.

Head carpenter David Retzleff said the hoard had to be strong enough for the singers to climb up and stand on while still being able to be broken into four pieces to make the truck ride to the theatre. Retzleff, Chin and Malfitano have all climbed its ladders, stairs and boxes that the singers will be using during the performance.

Because the 13-foot-high, 20-feet-wide edifice is so big and unwieldy, Retzleff had a special rolling platform built to move the hoard into the wings.

Here's a photo of the hoard in mid-construction a few months ago at our Christie/Dupont scene shop. The pointing arms belong to set designer Wilson Chin and director Catherine Malfitano.


Here are some photos of the finished hoard from earlier this month. You can see some of the assorted interesting items in some of its corners:

Top photo: A scene from the Canadian Opera Company production of Gianni Schicchi, 2012. Photo by Michael Cooper.

All other photos © Canadian Opera Company, 2012.


Posted by Cecily Carver / in 2011/2012 / comments (0) / permalink


Artist in Focus: Simone Osborne


[This interview by Joseph So originally appeared in La Scena Musicale. We are republishing it here with his permission]

When Canadian soprano Simone Osborne won the Metropolitan Opera Auditions in 2008, she was all of 21, an extraordinarily young age to be the winner of such an important competition. When I interviewed her for an article in The Music Scene. I was struck by her bright smile, her personal warmth and most of all, her intelligence, and a certain level-headed quality that belies her age. I commented at the time that with her talent and smarts, she has just the right combination for a successful career.

Now four years later, Osborne's career has indeed blossomed. She is on the roster of Columbia Artists Management, a high power agency that has guided many of the greatest artists in classical music. Still in her last year of the Canadian Opera Ensemble Studio, Simone Osborne has already sung several leading roles to positive reviews – Pamina, Gilda, Ilia, Juliette, and now Lauretta. Her triumphal return to Vancouver (her hometown) to sing Juliette garnered ecstatic reviews. Still only 25, she has achieved more than what some singers do in a whole career. Osborne recently took time out from rehearsals of the COC Gianni Schicchi for a chat about her life and her career:

LSM: I recall interviewing you in 2008 for an article in La Scena Musicale when you won the Met Auditions. Since then your career has truly blossomed! You are now on the roster of Columbia Artists, one of the most prestigious artist agencies. We've heard you in major roles the last couple of years – Pamina, Gilda, Juliette, and now Lauretta. Tell us a little about your experiences with singing these wonderful roles.


Posted by Joseph So / in 2011/2012 / 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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