Parlando: The COC Blog


2012/2013 Artist Basics: Isabel Leonard

What she's singing with us: She'll be making her COC debut singing the trouser role of Sesto, Tito's best friend and lovestruck betrayer, in Mozart's La clemenza di Tito.

Where you might have seen her:  Isabel Leonard is a Metropolitan Opera regular in such roles as Rosina (Il barbiere di Siviglia), Zerlina (Don Giovanni), and Dorabella (Così fan tutte).

Interviews and profiles: The uber-stylish W Magazine called her "Opera's It Girl" in this 2009 Q&A, and the Washington Post, calling her "the whole package," raved that "whatever the 'package' is, Isabel Leonard has it: looks, stagecraft and a pleasing midweight mezzo-soprano voice that can be sultry or floating, and moves with astounding ease." This 2010 New York Times profile discusses the special vocal and performance challenges she experienced after giving birth to her son Teo, and in the feature "Warm Up" with WQXR, she reveals the details of her pre-performance routine.

Sneak preview: Large portions of a 2009 Così fan tutte at the Salzburg festival are available on YouTube, including Leonard's performance of Dorabella's aria "Smanie implacabili." The aria begins at 1:55:


Photo of Isabel Leonard © Jared Slater.

Posted by Cecily Carver / in 2012/2013 / comments (0) / permalink


2012/2013 Artist Basics: Bill Viola

What he's doing with us: As a video artist, he collaborates with legendary director Peter Sellars in our upcoming production of Tristan und Isolde.

Where you might have seen him: His video art for Tristan und Isolde has been seen in Paris, London, and Los Angeles. His artwork has also been exhibited at the MoMA in New York (1987), the Venice Biennale (1995 and 2007), the Whitney Museum of American Art (1997), the Guggenheim Museum, New York (2002), the Getty Museum in Los Angeles and the National Gallery in London (2003). He is the winner of a McArthur Fellowship and was awarded the title Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French Government.

Interviews and profiles: In this video of a speech Viola gave at Otis College of Art and Design in 2009, he shows the video piece "Fire Woman," one of the final images seen in Tristan und Isolde (you might recognize it from the cover of our 2012/2013 brochure), discusses how video and digital media have changed the way we think about art, and gives some advice to the aspiring artists in attendance. In this shorter video segment, Viola talks about how artists must always "ask why."

Tristan und Isolde & Inspiration: In the video below, Heidi McKenzie interviews Bill Viola about his inspiration behind the videos and imagery in Tristan und Isolde, spanning from his experiences as a child to influences from Eastern culture.

Sneak preview: the video below from the London Philharmonia has lots of performance footage from the concert version of the Sellars/Viola Tristan und Isolde. You can get a good sense of the nature of the video work, and hear from the technical director responsible for ensuring it flows smoothly in performance. You can also see some of his non-operatic art online: The Lovers, Acceptance,

Photo of Bill Viola © Kira Perov.

Posted by Cecily Carver / in 2012/2013 / comments (0) / permalink


Join COC and AGO for #ArtHour

On Thursday, June 14, from 11 a.m. to noon the COC is teaming up with the Art Gallery of Ontario to co-host #ArtHour, an hour-long online discussion about cross-disciplinary collaboration. We hope you’ll join in! 

This spring, artist Zhang Huan — who has worked primarily in the visual arts — came to Toronto for the launch of three projects: the North American premiere of his production of Semele by the COC; the unveiling of his large sculpture Rising, in front of Shangri-La Toronto; and an exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Ash Paintings and Memory Doors. His foray into the opera world with Semele is a prime example of the cross-disciplinary collaboration that tweeters will discuss during this #ArtHour. Have other good examples to share? Leave a comment below and add it to the conversation on June 14. 

During #ArtHour, we will ask six questions related to the topic, with the aim of generating a great discussion with you and other art-loving tweeters:

  1. Which art forms are most likely to benefit from involvement by people outside the discipline? The least likely?

  2. Is there any kind of artistic expertise that does not translate to other mediums?

  3. Can you think of a cross-disciplinary collaboration that you thought worked particularly well?

  4. What is the biggest challenge facing artists collaborating with people in other disciplines?

  5. Does above-average ability in one discipline make someone more likely to succeed in any creative endeavour?

  6. Do you think critics are kinder to artists working outside their usual discipline or harsher?

The person who contributes the most to the conversation will win two pairs of tickets to see an upcoming COC production and general admission tickets to visit the Art Gallery of Ontario!


What: #ArtHour is a Twitter chat with a new art topic each month. We invite you to spend one hour each month thinking about and sharing what art really means to you. 

When: Thursday, June 14, 11 a.m. – noon EDT (#ArtHour takes place the second Thursday of every month).

Where: On Twitter. Follow @canadianopera and @agotoronto for more information, or search for the hashtag #ArtHour. You can follow along using Tweetchat by using the #ArtHour hashtag. 

Who: #ArtHour is for everyone: galleries and museums, arts professionals, artists and anyone interested in learning more and meeting other passionate art fans. 

How: Starting at 11 a.m. @agotoronto and @canadianopera will be tweeting a question every 10 minutes using the hashtag #ArtHour. Anyone can respond, also using the hashtag #ArtHour. 

For example, we would tweet "Q1: What is your favourite opera? #ArtHour", and you could tweet back "A1: Verdi's Il Trovatore! #ArtHour."

We hope that you’ll help spread the word and join us for this great online event. For more information about #ArtHour please e-mail

Posted by Maria Lioutaia / in Opera Appreciation / 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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