Parlando: The COC Blog


Governor General Recognizes COC’s Earlaine Collins

We at the COC have some pretty incredible people in our midst.

And we’re not the only ones who think so.

Over the weekend, long-time COC supporter Earlaine Collins – COC Board member for 14 years, current Golden Circle member, and all-around model of philanthropic excellence – was honoured in Ottawa with the prestigious 2012 Governor General Ramon John Hnatyshyn Award for Voluntarism in the Performing Arts.

The distinction is one of eight Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards given out in 2012, and it recognizes Earlaine’s extraordinary contribution to the country’s leading arts organizations.

We couldn’t be happier for Earlaine, or more grateful to count her as one of our own. For more than three decades she has been a cherished member of the COC family, generously contributing her time, enthusiasm and financial support to a variety of initiatives, including the behemoth task of raising money for the construction of the Four Seasons Centre.

The award was announced in the House of Commons on Thursday, May 3rd. Then on Friday, Earlaine was presented with the award medallion at Rideau Hall by the GG himself, David Johnston. Finally, to cap off a triple bill of fêting, she was celebrated with a gala at the National Arts Centre on Saturday night alongside other notable Canadians from the arts world.

The star-studded evening included a performance from COC favourite Russell Braun – a natural choice, since Earlaine has been Russell’s friend and artist sponsor for nearly two decades.


The National Film Board also produced a series of short films honouring each of the recipients. Take a look at the one about Earlaine right here. It just might inspire you to give something back.

Bottom photo: (l - r) Russell Braun, Earlaine Collins, Alexander Neef. Photo by Rosemarie Umetsu.

Posted by Nikita Gourski / in COC History / comments (0) / permalink


A Chat with Lotfi Mansouri

[This is a guest post by Gianmarco Segato, retail and editorial co-ordinator. Gianmarco, together with Gianna Wichelow, is the voice of the COC in our Podcasts]

For our latest podcast we had the privilege of chatting with Lotfi Mansouri, General Director of the COC from 1976 to 1988. He was in town to work with the current members of our Ensemble Studio (pictured on the right/left with Lotfi). Mr. Mansouri has enjoyed a fascinating, multi-faceted career as a singer, stage director, impresario and teacher. Among many topics, he spoke with us about his early days as a tenor while studying pre-med at UCLA; his beginnings as an opera director in Europe; his many achievements with the COC; and his tenure as general director of San Francisco Opera. His memoirs, Lotfi Mansouri, An Operatic Journey, have recently been published by Northeastern University Press. We’ll be offering a free, signed copy of this vastly entertaining story to one of our lucky blog readers or podcast listeners. All you have to do is comment on this blog post on between June 23 and 29 telling us what you think of the podcast, and we’ll choose a winner (the winner will be announced in this comment thread, so check back to find out how to contact us and claim the prize). Now sit back and listen to a master raconteur give you the inside scoop on his brilliant career!

Photo: (l - r) Michael Uloth, Simone Osborne, Ambur Braid, Lotfi Mansouri, Wallis Giunta, Neil Craighead, Ileana Montalbetti, Christopher Enns, Rihab Chaieb, Adrian Kramer

Posted by Gianmarco Segato / in COC History / comments (0) / permalink


Signs Going up, Signs Coming Down

[This is a guest post by our director of public relations, Claudine Domingue]

Recently the COC was approached by Heritage Toronto to put a plaque on our building at 227 Front St. E. to mark its designation as a Heritage Building and its historical significance to the city's architecture. We were pleased to accept Heritage Toronto’s offer as we are equally proud of the building and its past.  

You can find the new plaque at the front of the building.

The plaque reads:


This former industrial building was constructed in phases over two decades as Standard Woollen Mills expanded its operations. The earliest portion, constructed in 1882 and distinguished by its buff and blackened brick detailing, was designed by E. J. Lennox, one of Toronto’s most celebrated architects. The plain, red brick eastern section and fourth floors were later additions. Owned by Standard Woollen Mills until 1926, the building was converted for use by the Canadian Opera Company in 1987.
Designated under the Ontario Heritage Act, 1985

While the Heritage Toronto plaque went up, some of you may have noticed that the COC’s signage, also on Front Street, came down letter by letter. Never fear, we’re not moving! The letters will be stored in a safe place while some much-needed repair work is done on our brick façade over the coming months.


Photos © Canadian Opera Company 2011

Posted by Claudine Domingue / in COC History / 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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