Parlando: The COC Blog


Meet the Ensemble Studio Competition Finalists: Nathan Keoughan

On November 26, 2013, for the first time, nine finalists in the Ensemble Studio Competition will now perform from the mainstage of the Four Seasons Centre, accompanied by the internationally acclaimed COC Orchestra conducted by COC Music Director Johannes Debus and hosted by Grammy-nominated and multi-Juno Award winner, singer-songwriter and composer Rufus Wainwright. 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.

Nathan Keoughan, bass-baritone

Nathan was born and raised in Charlottetown, P.E.I., completed his bachelor of music at the University of Prince Edward Island and still finds it hard to pry himself away. But he’s managed to do so long enough to attend the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, where he completed a master’s degree in Vocal Performance in 2012.

Before moving to Boston, Nathan says that his opera career “was not the original plan.” An accomplished theatre actor, Nathan portrayed Royal Gardner in Anne & Gilbert (Harbourfront Theatre) for three consecutive summers, and also played Edwin Simpson in Nine Lives, a musical about the life of L.M. Montgomery, for the Charlottetown Festival.

It was theatre that gave him a taste for performance, but opera that captured his imagination. “As my training continued at UPEI through the years, my amazing teachers, Stephen and Sung Ha Shin Bouey, introduced me into the world of opera, and with the help of YouTube I was soon a huge fanatic,” Nathan says. “What really draws me to opera is the culmination of such a focused singing technique while having the most dramatic of intentions and, on top of that, keeping up with the rich orchestral music underneath you.”


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Introducing Centre Stage, the Ensemble Studio Competition Gala

Centre Stage Ensemble Studio Competition

Join us on November 26, 2013 as we launch the Centre Stage fundraising gala, a magical evening dedicated to the discovery and celebration of the next generation of opera stars! An event unlike any other in Canada, Centre Stage features the competitive vocal showcase of the COC’s Ensemble Studio Competition with a twist that intensifies the already awe-inspiring display of operatic talent being fostered in this country. For the first time, finalists in the Ensemble Studio Competition now perform from the mainstage of the Four Seasons Centre, accompanied by the internationally acclaimed COC Orchestra conducted by COC Music Director Johannes Debus.

“I had been thinking of creating a gala fundraiser for the COC for some time already,” says COC General Director Alexander Neef. “Seeing how the Ensemble Studio Competition has engaged the community in past years, the timing was right to launch Centre Stage and make it the occasion to expand our audience with this much grander showcase of Canada’s rising opera talent.”

Centre Stage guests have the exclusive opportunity to experience live the vocal talent and artistry required to command a stage and captivate an audience. Whether one is new to opera or a longtime fan, you can’t help but want to support the operatic art form after having that kind of transformative moment unfold right in front of you,” adds Neef. “The young artists we will be seeing on November 26 may someday perform with all the great opera houses, including ours, and Centre Stage guests will be able to say, ‘I was there when….’”

All patrons who attend Centre Stage will enjoy a cocktail celebration in the Four Seasons Centre’s sparkling Isadore and Rosalie Sharp City Room when doors open at 5:30 p.m., and the competition begins at 6:30 p.m.


The finalists for the 2013 Ensemble Studio competition are:

  • soprano Karine Boucher (Quebec City, QC)
  • mezzo-soprano Emma Char (Kitchener, Ont.)
  • mezzo-soprano Francesca Corrado (Vancouver, B.C.)
  • tenor Jean-Philippe Fortier-Lazure (Kitchener, Ont.)
  • bass Nathan Keoughan (Charlottetown, P.E.I.)
  • baritone Iain MacNeil (Brockville, Ont.) 
  • tenor Jean-Michel Richer (Montreal, QC)
  • soprano Lara Secord-Haid (Winnipeg, Man.)
  • mezzo-soprano Rachel Wood (London, Ont.)
Follow along on Parlando for the next two weeks as we feature daily blog posts about each of our finalists.

To Purchase Tickets

Tickets to the Ensemble Studio Competition and Centre Stage cocktail celebration are $100. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit, buy tickets online, 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.). Chat about the event on Twitter with #COCCentrestage.

Photos: (middle, l-r) Owen McCausland, Claire de Sévigné, Alexander Neef, Lindsay Barrett and Sasha Djihanian at the COC's 2011 Ensemble Studio Competition.  (bottom, l-r) Gordon Bintner, Charlotte Burrage and Andrew Haji at the COC's 2012 Ensemble Studio Competition. All photos by Chris Hutcheson.

Posted by Danielle D'Ornellas / in Ensemble Studio / comments (0) / permalink


Free Concert Series Highlights for November

Dharma Santi's 2008 performance in the Free Concert Series.

This November, the Free Concert Series in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre is all about opening yourself up to new sounds and performance experiences. Explore the musical and dance traditions from cultures around the world, or challenge yourself with original contemporary compositions and innovative arrangements. But don't worry if you're feeling a little less adventurous, we'll still be featuring classic compositions and virtuoso performances too!


Posted by Kristin McKinnon / in Free Concert Series / comments (0) / permalink

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