Parlando: The COC Blog


COC attends the OPERA America Opera Education Forum

[This is a guest post by Katherine Semcesen, senior manager of education and outreach.]

With the opening of Nixon in China around the corner, I couldn’t help but hear Chou En-lai’s last words, “How much of what we did was good?” during an Opera Education Forum in New York hosted by OPERA America this past weekend. The COC, along with Tapestry New Opera, gave a Canadian voice to the discussion table which included representatives from Arizona Opera, Fort Worth Opera, Houston Grand Opera, The Metropolitan Opera Guild, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, San Francisco Opera, Santa Fe Opera, and Washington National Opera. 

For years, opera companies have invested energy and financial resources in providing the public with accessible entry points into opera in hopes of increasing their audience base, providing individuals with creative arts experiences and adding to the cultural framework of society. Each education rep at the table was able to recount a very successful project that opened the doors to the world of opera for a group of individuals—be they curious young kindergarten students, youth interested in further developing their performing arts skills or aging patients in palliative care. It was inspiring to hear the great work being done by these companies and the memories and experiences that they’ve created for their communities through opera. And yet, despite all these successes, there was a sense that we have not been doing enough to introduce new people to the art form. 


Posted by Katherine Semcesen / in Opera Appreciation / comments (4) / permalink


Two Opera 101 Events Coming Up

Opera 101
 has consistently been one of our most popular events over the last few years. Usually held three times per season (once for each run), this winter we're offering a double dose: an event for each opera. Opera 101 events are free and relaxed, and give you a chance both to learn about the operas you're about to see and interact with members of the creative team. Here's what's coming up: 

Friday, Jan. 7: Isabel Bayrakdarian and The Magic Flute

Isabel Bayrakdarian will be familiar to many of you. We've seen her most recently at the COC as Ilia in Idomeneo last spring, and Mélisande in 2008's Pélleas et Mélisande. Even those who have never been to the opera may find her voice hauntingly familiar: her vocals were featured in the Grammy-winning soundtrack to The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers as well as that of Atom Egoyan's Ararat.  

She will be our Pamina in The Magic Flute (sharing the role with Simone Osborne), a role she has also sung to great acclaim at the Metropolitan Opera. 

Johannes Debus, our Music Director and the conductor of The Magic Flute, will also be lending his insight to the discussion. At Opera 101, they will chat with the CBC's Brent Bambury and answer questions from the audience. 

This event takes place from 6 to 7:30 p.m. (doors at 5:30) at the Duke of Westminster, 77 Adelaide St. W., First Canadian Place. For the hungry, there will be complimentary appetizers. Tell us you'll be attending on Facebook.

Also check out this blog post at Definitely the Opera about Isabel Bayrakdarian, the relationship between science and music, and Romilda.

Photo © Dario Acosta 2005

Wednesday, Jan. 19: Robert Orth and Nixon in China 

When you see Robert Orth on stage you may find his presence hauntingly familiar as well, but for a different reason. He'll be portraying someone whose image has repeatedly appeared on prime time television, the front pages of newspapers, political cartoons, documentary films, and the glossy photo inlays of history books—that is, former President Richard Nixon. By all accounts, his performance is uncanny. Of his performance as Nixon at Vancouver Opera during the Winter Olympics, The Globe and Mail wrote that "from the first moments of baritone Robert Orth’s descent down the steps . . . he is Richard Nixon."

His task as a singer and actor is complex: portraying a real-life figure in the midst of a sequence of events that much of the audience will have seen on television, and working with a living composer acknowledged as one of the most important of his generation. His conversation with Brent Bambury is sure to be fascinating. 

Note the different venue and start time for this event: It begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Drake Hotel (Drake Underground). Here's the Facebook event to let us know you're coming!

Photo © 2004 Ken Howard, Opera Theatre St. Louis

Posted by Cecily Carver / in Opera Appreciation / comments (0) / permalink


Talking Opera at North York, Round Two

Opera veterans and newcomers alike gathered last Thursday at North York Central Library in their beautiful new auditorium for the second in a series of three Opera Talks hosted by the COC. The crowd was treated to a performance by Ensemble Studio bass Michael Uloth of two arias from The Magic Flute, as well as a background discussion of both The Magic Flute and Nixon in China by our senior manager of education and outreach, Katherine Semcesen.

At our Front Street office afterward we had a draw for a pair of tickets to Nixon in China. Here's Katherine drawing a name from the bowl of ballots . . . 

Congrats to J. Ferguson, who won the draw! Nixon in China will be her first opera.

The next talk will be March 3, and will focus on the topic of design in opera. 

Posted by Cecily Carver / 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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