Youth Opera Lab

Youth Opera Labs are FREE events for teens and young adults ages 16 to 24. No previous experience with opera is necessary. Participants are selected based on the interest and relevance demonstrated in their online application. Click the panels below to explore this season's Labs.

Composing & New Opera - October 15, 2015

Barbara Monk Feldman

The Lab

Thursday, October 15, 2015 from 5 to 9:30 p.m.

  • Composing workshop with composer Chris Thornborrow and librettist Julie Tepperman
  • Getting new opera on the stage Q&A with Roberto Mauro, COC Artistic Administrator
  • Pyramus & Thisbe working rehearsal


The Dress Rehearsal

Participate in the lab and you’ll receive two FREE tickets to the dress rehearsal of Pyramus and Thisbe.
Sunday, October 18, 2015 at 7:30 p.m.

Registration for this Youth Opera Lab is now closed.


Julie Tepperman is an actor, playwright, educator and co-artistic director of Convergence Theatre.  Her acting credits include two seasons at the Stratford Festival. Playwriting credits include: YICHUD (Seclusion), which received a Capital Critic's Circle Nomination, and was published by Playwrights Canada Press; a re-imagining of the August Strindberg play The Father; I Grow Old as part of The Gladstone Variations which earned a Dora Award nomination and was voted #2 in NOW Magazine's “Top Ten Toronto Productions of The Decade;” and Rosy, as part of AutoShow  was voted Best Production, Best New Play, and Outstanding Ensemble at the Toronto Fringe Festival. 

Julie teaches acting, playwriting and self-producing workshops for the Stratford Festival, Luminato Festival, Toronto Fringe Festival, Nightwood Theatre, Tarragon Theatre, Ryerson University, and George Brown and Humber colleges. Convergence Theatre has twice been voted by NOW Magazine readers as “The Best Site Specific Theatre Company in Toronto.” Most recently, Julie co-created,wrote, and directed Brantwood— an epic 15-hour, immersive musical theatre extravaganza where audience members followed characters all over an abandoned high school. Upcoming projects include SELFIE, an opera for teens exploring “slut-shaming,” composed by Chris Thornborrow and commissioned by Tapestry Opera.

Toronto based composer Chris Thornborrow has been described as "simply a marvel" (Globe  & Mail), whose music "casts a spell" (Hollywood Reporter). His awards include multiple SOCAN Awards for Young Audio Visual Composers, and the Toronto Emerging Composers Award Honourable Mention. He was the sound designer and orchestrator for Brantwood the Musical, winner of the 2015 Audience Choice Dora Award. He is the artistic director of the Toy Piano Composers collective, and has had works commissioned by Ensemble Paramirabo, Musica Reflecta, ArrayEnsemble, junctQín, the Bicycle Opera Project, and the Thin Edge New Music Collective. He has scored award winning films including the short We Ate the Children Last (Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival [TIFF]) and the feature length Sleeping Giant (Cannes, Munich Film Fest, TIFF). Current projects include: SELFIE, a full-length opera for Tapestry Opera.

Roberto Mauro plays an integral role as the Canadian Opera Company’s Director of Music and Artistic Administration. Mauro takes part in searching for conductors, negotiates contracts with performers, and travels around the world to hear singers on many different operatic stages to cast for COC productions. Mauro has previously held key positions in the administration of L’Opéra de Montréal (Production and Administrative Assistant, and later as Senior Director of Artistic Operations), the Michigan Opera Theatre (Assistant Artistic Director), and the Florida Grand Opera (manager of the Young Artist Studio). In addition to his other accomplishments, Mauro has overseen the casting and production of important new works and written supertitle translations for approximately 40 operas that have been seen on the stages of the Michigan Opera Theatre, the Cincinnati Opera, the Opera Company of Philadelphia, the Florida Grand Opera, the Florentine Opera, Opera Omaha, and Opera Ontario. Mauro is a highly respected speaker and frequently gives presentations on composers, repertoire, and singers. He graduated from the University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Arts in History and Political Science.

Sets, Wigs, & Makeup - January 29, 2016

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

The Lab

Friday, January 29, 2016 from 5 to 9:30 p.m.

  • Backstage Tour
  • Wigs and Makeup Q&A with Sharon Ryman, COC Wig & Makeup Supervisor
  • The Marriage of Figaro working rehearsal


The Dress Rehearsal

Participate in the lab and you’ll receive two FREE tickets to the dress rehearsal of The Marriage of Figaro.
Monday, February 1, 2016 at 7:30 p.m.

Registration for this Youth Opera Lab is now closed.


Autumn Coppaway has worked as a freelance technician and manager for several years in the Greater Toronto Area. Autumn graduated from Ryerson Theatre School in 2012 and her recent credits include Company Production Manager for Against the Grain Theatre, Assistant Technical Director for The Grand Theatre, and the Production Manager for Carousel Players. She continues to work as a Director of Production for numerous corporate events and theatrical endeavours across the city as well as serving as Assistant Technical Director for the Canadian Opera Company.

Originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Sharon Ryman began her career as a make-up artist in the fashion industry. An eye-opening experience volunteering with the Manitoba Opera Association led her to the Manitoba Theatre Centre where she learned the art of wig-making and honed her technical make-up skills. Subsequent work took her to the Banff and Shaw festivals, and the National Arts Centre as the Head of Wigs and Makeup. After touring with Les Misèrables and The Phantom of the Opera, Sharon spent eight years with Livent working on Showboat, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, Ragtime, Fosse, and The Phantom of the Opera. Fifteen years ago, she joined the Canadian Opera Company as wig and make-up supervisor. She has toured with the COC’s production of Oedipus Rex/Symphony of Psalms to the Edinburgh Festival, The Nightingale and Other Short Fables, and Semele at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

DANCING SEVIllAnAS & Physicality of SINGING - April 4, 2016

Georges Bizet

The Lab

Monday, April 4, 2016 from 5 to 9:30 p.m.

  • Sevillanas (Spanish Folk Dance) workshop with dancer and choreographer, and co-artistic director of Ritmo Flamenco, Anjelica Scannura and Flamenco guitarist Roger Scannura
  • Physicality of Singing Q&A with Jennifer Swan, Performance Architect and COC Ensemble Studio Body and Breath Coach
  • Carmen working rehearsal


The Dress Rehearsal

Participate in the lab and you’ll receive two FREE tickets to the dress rehearsal of Carmen.
Saturday, April 9, 2016 at 7:30 p.m.

Register by March 27, 2016! Registration opens February 16, 2016.


Award-winning dancer and choreographer Anjelica Scannura was trained in flamenco dance by her mother, Valerie, and continued her training in Spain in the major flamenco centres of Jerez de la Frontera, Madrid, and Granada. She has studied many forms of dance intensively including ballet, contemporary, Irish, Middle-Eastern and, most notably, flamenco, receiving the prestigious Paula Citron Fresh Blood Award in 2012. Of her early solo dance career Citron wrote, “She is a wild child of dance whose fusion performances radiate a passion that belies her age.” She was the only Canadian accepted to present her contemporary flamenco work Oya in the Madrid Choreographic Competition in 2013 and was praised for her daring originality by many of Spain’s most illustrious flamenco professionals. In 2014, Anjelica danced the solo lead flamenco role in the Canadian Opera Company’s production of Don Quichotte. A passion for Middle-Eastern rhythms led her to excel at belly dance and she won several titles at Bellydancer of the Universe in 2013. With her family-based company Ritmo Flamenco, she has performed sold-out shows at Harbourfront Centre’s NextSteps Dance Festival and has appeared in several roles for film and television, including the upcoming film for CBC entitled Flamenco.

Ritmo Flamenco's founder Roger Scannura is an internationally recognized flamenco guitarist and a leading exponent of nuevo flamenco. Born on the history-drenched island of Malta, he studied art restoration and music. He mastered the techniques and nuances of flamenco guitar while in Spain, where he studied intensively under the auspices of Pepe Habichuela and other flamenco masters over a 12-year period. He recently had the privilege of performing in Ottawa for the Spanish Ambassador and former Prime Minister Stephen Harper. His range of recordings is vast with nine CDs encompassing both traditional and modern styles. Roger is on the faculty of York University where he is director of the Flamenco Guitar Program.

Jennifer Swan is a breath and body clinician for singers and has been an integral part of the teaching team for the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio training program since 2012. Jennifer’s methodology creates, sustains and strengthens a singer's breath support, her technique evolving from her extensive dance and Pilates background. Jennifer regularly teaches her voice method at the Centre for Opera Studies in Italy and the University of Toronto. She is also the resident choreographer with the Toronto Children's Chorus and operates Performance Architects/Swan Studio Dance in London, Ont.

Singing & Young Artist Programs - April 18, 2016

Gioachino Rossini

The Lab

Monday, April 18, 2016 from 5 to 9:30 p.m.

  • Singing workshop with Wendy Nielsen, Head of Voice at U of T and Head Vocal Consultant for the COC Ensemble Studio 
  • Young Artist Programs Q&A with Liz Upchurch, Head of COC Ensemble Studio
  • Maometto II working rehearsal


The Dress Rehearsal

Participate in the lab and you’ll receive two FREE tickets to the dress rehearsal of Maometto II.
Monday, April 25, 2016 at 7:30 p.m.

Register by April 10, 2016! Registration opens March 7, 2016.


Youth Opera Lab, 2014. Video: COC

Program Supporter:
J.P. Bickell Foundation


Sign up for eOpera
Sign up to receive news and updates from Education and Outreach at the COC.