Parlando: The COC Blog


A Tunnel Through the Mountain

[This is a guest post from Caitlin Coull, Communications Manager, Special Initiatives]

This week is an extraordinarily busy one for the members of the COC Ensemble Studio—and that’s an understatement! In addition to rehearsals, costume fittings, and coachings in preparation for upcoming roles and understudies in five operas (three productions for the mainstage and two chamber operas) the young artists are also tirelessly working on repertoire for two additional events: the Christina and Louis Quilico Awards and an upcoming recital as part of the Free Concert Series in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre presented by National Bank.

Every year the Ontario Arts Foundation presents an award to extraordinary young artists on behalf of the Christina and Louis Quilico Fund. The Ensemble Studio has been selected to participate in the 2011 competition, which will take place in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts on Wednesday, April 20 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Doors open at 5:00 p.m. and admission is free. The singers will compete by singing two arias each for judges Alexander Neef, General Director of the COC, David Speers, Artistic Director of Opera Hamilton, and John Hess, Co-Artistic Director of Queen of Puddings Music Theatre. You don’t want to miss this!

An equally exciting performance occurs the very next day—a recital of songs by Gustav Mahler and Richard Strauss in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre at noon. Often described as the titans of late German romanticism, the song repertoire of the two composers is rarely presented in such a concentrated form, and the artists of the Ensemble Studio are certain to breathe fresh life into the gorgeous melodies and powerful texts. According to music critic Alex Ross in his superb book The Rest is Noise, Mahler and Strauss “recognized the common ground between them, and each worked to support the other’s music.” Mahler himself proclaimed, “Strauss and I tunnel from opposite sides of the mountain. One day we shall meet.”†

Photo: l-r: Adrian Kramer, Rihab Chaieb, Wallis Giunta, and Ileana Montalbetti in the
Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre. Photo: Chris Hutcheson

† Alex Ross, The Rest is Noise (2007)

Posted by Caitlin Coull / in Ensemble Studio / comments (0) / permalink


Ensemble Studio's Adrian Kramer talks Britten, Maazel, Comedy

Guelph-born baritone Adrian Kramer made Four Seasons Centre patrons laugh as Papageno last month in the Ensemble Studio's special performance of The Magic Flute. On tour with other members of the Castleton Festival Opera, he'll be making Californians laugh as Sid in Britten's Albert Herring. Founded by maestro Lorin Maazel with the support of the Britten-Pears foundation, Castleton Festival Opera gives emerging artists, hand-picked by maestro Maazel, the chance to work closely with one of the most respected conductors of our age. Adrian answered a few questions about the experience via email.

CC: Tell me about the character you’re singing in Albert Herring and how he fits into the opera as a whole. 

AK: I'm playing the character of Sid. Much like Papageno in The Magic Flute, Sid represents simplicity, sweetness, love, youth and fun. He even sings an aria about the glories of chasing girls around town and is the troublemaker who slips rum in Albert's drink to start him on his wild adventure. Liquor and love!  

Sid and Albert have a very interesting relationship. Not unlike a big brother, Sid is constantly teasing and pushing Albert, but always with a great deal of admiration and fraternal love. Sid runs around the opera with Nancy, the baker's daughter. They are young lovers, popping up occasionally and giving the audience a break from the rigid Victorian values held by the rest of the cast. Albert has a very real and deep-seated desire to taste the life that Sid and Nancy live so freely. They are one extreme and the townsfolk are another and poor Albert is caught somewhere in between.


Posted by Cecily Carver / in Ensemble Studio / comments (2) / permalink


Operanation's Star, Ambur Braid, Talks Orfeo and Broken Social Scene

Soprano Ambur Braid was one of the stars of Operanation VII, singing the Queen of the Night's aria (or "Queen 2") from The Magic Flute with indie rockers Broken Social Scene. She also supplied the coloratura for the Ensemble Studio performance of The Magic Flute last month, singing the Queen of the Night. Now she's taking a major role in our upcoming production of Orfeo ed Euridice: she will play Amore, the god of love—best known by the Roman name Cupid—who gives the grieving Orfeo a chance to bring his wife Euridice back from the dead. Amore is one of only three solo roles in Orfeo. Ambur generously took some time out of her vacation this month to answer a few questions by email. 

CC: Are there any moments from the night of Operanation that stand out in your memory?

AB: The performance itself was pretty fun and filled with surprises (especially when I knocked a huge diamond earring off of my ear and then caught it discreetly before it hit an audience member in the face) but it was the rehearsal process with Wallis Giunta and Broken Social Scene that was memorable. We met in a small studio the day before Operanation and arranged the Queen of the Night aria as a group. It started off sounding like a banjo jamboree but quickly took its form when I announced that it needed "dirty, grungy guitar action" (When do I ever get to say that in opera?) and proceeded to act that out in an awkward manner. Complete with flamboyant hand movements. Wallis aptly named this process the "Opera Singer Liberation Project." When we arranged the Flower Duet it was so beautiful at the climax of the piece, and the guys really nailed it. I have to admit, I had a tear in my eye.


Posted by Cecily Carver / in Ensemble Studio / 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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