The COC Ensemble Studio
Competition

The three winners of Centre Stage 2013, Iain MacNail, Karine Boucher and Jean-Philippe Fortier-Lazure.

Centre Stage Ensemble Studio Competition Gala


On November 25, 2014, the Canadian Opera Company holds its fundraising gala Centre Stagea magical evening dedicated to the discovery and celebration of the next generation of opera stars.

The Ensemble Studio Competition features singers from the final round of auditions for the COC Ensemble Studio, Canada’s premier training program for young opera professionals, competing for cash prizes ranging in value from $1,500 – $5,000. Competing before a public audience, finalists in the Ensemble Studio Competition perform from the mainstage of the Four Seasons Centre, accompanied by the internationally acclaimed COC Orchestra conducted by COC Music Director Johannes Debus.

About the competition


An event unlike any other in Canada, Centre Stage features the competitive vocal showcase of the COC’s Ensemble Studio Competition with a twist that intensifies the already awe-inspiring display of operatic talent being fostered in this country. Finalists in the Ensemble Studio Competition perform from the mainstage of the Four Seasons Centre, accompanied by the internationally acclaimed COC Orchestra conducted by COC Music Director Johannes Debus.

The competition was launched in 2011 by COC General Director Alexander Neef to showcase the opera talent the COC had scouted from across the country and create a public platform for celebrating the future of opera in Canada.

With the creation of Centre Stage in 2013, the COC now opens the Ensemble Studio Competition to an audience of over 1,000 opera lovers and interested guests as it moves from the intimate setting of the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre at the Four Seasons Centre to R. Fraser Elliott Hall. This is a must-see event for all who are invested in and intrigued by the future of opera in Canada. An exclusive insiders’ experience, the Ensemble Studio Competition introduces the stars of tomorrow well before they step onto the COC stage. The audience at the vocal competition will hear the singers selected to follow in the footsteps of such renowned Ensemble Studio graduates as Ben Heppner, Isabel Bayrakdarian, Joseph Kaiser, Wendy Nielsen and John Fanning, among many others.

The annual Ensemble Studio audition process, open only to Canadian citizens and permanent residents, takes COC artistic staff across Canada and into the U.S. for preliminary auditions in Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto and New York, followed by a final callback audition at the COC’s Joey and Toby Tanenbaum Opera Centre in Toronto. It’s from this pool of singers that finalists are selected for the Ensemble Studio Competition. 

The Ensemble Studio Competition is underwritten in part by RBC Foundation, Peter M. Deeb and the Hal Jackman Foundation.

2013 Finalists


  • soprano Karine Boucher (Quebec City, QC)
  • mezzo-soprano Emma Char (Kitchener, Ont.)
  • mezzo-soprano Francesca Corrado (Vancouver, B.C.)
  • tenor Jean-Philippe Fortier-Lazure (Kitchener, Ont.)
  • bass Nathan Keoughan (Charlottetown, P.E.I.)
  • baritone Iain MacNeil (Brockville, Ont.) 
  • tenor Jean-Michel Richer (Montreal, QC)
  • soprano Lara Secord-Haid (Winnipeg, Man.)
  • mezzo-soprano Rachel Wood (London, Ont.)

2013 Winners

At the inaugural Centre Stage Ensemble Studio Competition in 2013, three singers – Karine Boucher, Jean-Philippe Fortier-Lazure and Iain MacNeil – were selected out of the finalists to join the 2014/2015 Ensemble Studio. They will be joined by pianist Jennifer Szeto.

How to purchase tickets


You can purchase tickets online, by calling COC Ticket Services at 416-363-8231, or in person at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts Box Office, located at 145 Queen St. W., Monday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

 


Photo: Third Prize Winner bass-baritone Iain MacNeil, First Prize and Audience Choice Award winner soprano Karine Boucher and Second Prize winner tenor Jean-Philippe Fortier-Lazure, 2013. Photo by Michael Cooper.



The Ensemble Studio Competition is underwritten in part by RBC Foundation, Peter M. Deeb and the Hal Jackman Foundation.