Learn more about our 2015/2016 Ensemble Studio members.
Bass-baritone Gordon Bintner won First Prize and the Audience Choice Award at the COC Ensemble Studio Competition in 2012. With the COC, he has appeared in the Ensemble Studio performances of The Barber of Seville as Don Basilio and Così fan tutte as Don Alfonso, and in productions of Madama Butterfly, La Bohème and Roberto Devereux. He has also sung lead roles in productions with Saskatoon Opera, Opéra de Montréal, Angers Nantes Opéra, Opera NUOVA, Orchestre symphonique de Montréal and Merola Opera Program. Recently, he was a member of the Salzburg Festival’s Young Singers Project. Upcoming roles include Count Almaviva in The Marriage of Figaro (COC Ensemble Studio performance), Guglielmo in Così fan tutte (Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra); the title role in The Marriage of Figaro (Manitoba Opera); Araldo in Otello (Salzburg Easter Festival); and Papageno in The Magic Flute (Michigan Opera Theater).
Last updated: August 31, 2015
Born in Québec City, soprano Karine Boucher won First Prize and the Audience Choice Award in the Third Annual Ensemble Studio Competition in 2013 and First Prize at the Christina and Louis Quilico Awards in February 2015. She recently appeared at the COC as Berta in The Barber of Seville and Kate Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly. As a member of the Atelier lyrique de l’Opéra de Montréal, her credits include Miss Pinkerton in The Old Maid and the Thief and Micaëla in Carmen. Additional credits include Annina in La Traviata, Inez in Il Trovatore and Damon in Acis and Galatea (Arte Music); and Mimì in La Bohème (Jeunesses Musicales). In 2016 at the COC, Ms. Boucher sings the roles of Susanna in the Ensemble Studio performance of The Marriage of Figaro and Micaëla in Carmen.
Originally from Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario, tenor Jean-Philippe Fortier-Lazure recently appeared as Count Almaviva in the Ensemble Studio performance of The Barber of Seville. He placed second in the COC’s Third Annual Ensemble Studio Competition in 2013 and is also a recipient of the Governor General Performing Arts Mentorship Award. Credits include Pelléas in Pelléas et Mélisande (Nova Scotia Opera Company and Atelier d’Opéra, University of Montreal/AO); Chevalier de la Force in Dialogues des Carmélites (AO); Beppe in Pagliacci, Guard in Manon and Prince of Persia in Turandot (Opera Lyra); and Tamino in Die Zauberflöte, Don Curzio/Don Basilio in Le nozze di Figaro and Mr. Gobineau in The Medium (University of Ottawa Opera Productions). Upcoming roles at the COC include Don Curzio in the mainstage production of The Marriage of Figaro and Don Basilio in the Ensemble Studio performance, as well as Giuseppe in La Traviata and Remendado in Carmen.
Last updated: August 31, 2015
Calgary native Aviva Fortunata’s recent COC appearances include Berta in The Barber of Seville, Helmwige in Die Walküre and Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte (Ensemble Studio performance). Additional credits include Desdemona in Otello and the Lady with a Cake Box in Postcard from Morocco (San Francisco Opera’s Merola Opera Program); Donna Anna in Don Giovanni (Concert Opera Group, Centre for Opera Studies in Italy and the University of Toronto); and Poulenc’s Gloria (Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra). Ms. Fortunata was a finalist for the Song Prize at the 2015 Cardiff Singer of the World competition, the winner of the 2012 Norcop Prize in Song Recital, and was awarded a judges’ commendation in the Mildred Miller International Voice Competition (Opera Theater of Pittsburgh). She holds a master’s degree in opera performance from the University of Toronto. In 2016, Ms. Fortunata sings the roles of Annina in La Traviata and the Countess in the COC’s Ensemble Studio performance of The Marriage of Figaro.
Last updated: August 31, 2015
Originally from London, Ontario, Andrew Haji claimed Second Prize in the Second Annual COC Ensemble Studio Competition in 2012. His roles with the COC include Count Almaviva in The Barber of Seville (Ensemble Studio performance), Ferrando in Così fan tutte (Ensemble Studio performance) and Rodriguez in Don Quichotte. Mr. Haji holds a master’s degree in opera from the University of Toronto, where his credits include Nemorino in L’elisir d’amore, Cecco in Il mondo della luna, Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni, the title role in Rob Ford: The Opera and Ferrando in Così fan tutte. Other roles include Tamino in The Magic Flute (Music Academy of the West and Accademia Europea dell’Opera); and Rodolfo in La Bohème, Nemorino and Don Ottavio (Centre for Opera Studies in Italy). Mr. Haji won the Grand Prix, the Press Prize and the Junior Jury Prize at the 2014 International Vocal Competition ’s-Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands. Roles in the COC’s 2015/2016 season include Alfredo in La Traviata and Condulmiero in Maometto II.
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Award-winning pianist Hyejin Kwon hails from Seoul, South Korea, where she studied at the Korea National University of Arts preparatory school. She continued her studies in the United States at the Interlochen Arts Academy and the Peabody Institute of Music of the Johns Hopkins University. She was also a repetiteur for Lyric Opera Baltimore and music director for Repertory Theater of Washington. Upon moving to Canada, Ms. Kwon worked as a pianist, coach, repetiteur and music instructor at institutions such as the Royal Conservatory of Music. She recently completed a diploma with the University of Toronto’s Opera Division. This season with the COC, she serves as rehearsal pianist for La Traviata, The Marriage of Figaro and Maometto II.
Last updated: September 1, 2015
Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio member and Brockville, Ontario native bass-baritone Iain MacNeil recently appeared with the COC as Imperial Commissioner in Madama Butterfly, and in the role of Fiorello in the company’s mainstage production of The Barber of Seville and Doctor Bartolo in the Ensemble Studio performance. In 2014 he claimed Third Prize in the COC’s Third Annual Ensemble Studio Competition. He studied at the University of Toronto’s Opera Division and received a bachelor of music degree from Dalhousie University. Credits include Guglielmo in Così fan tutte and Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro (Centre for Opera Studies in Italy); Bobby in Kurt Weill’s Mahagonny-Songspiel, the title role in Sweeney Todd, Brewer in Comedy on the Bridge and Tom/John in The Face on the Barroom Floor (Dalhousie Opera Workshop). In the COC’s 2015/2016 season, Mr. MacNeil sings the title role in the Ensemble Studio performance of The Marriage of Figaro, Marquis d’Obigny in La Traviata and Dancaïre in Carmen.
Last update: August 31, 2015
A native of St. John’s, Newfoundland, Aaron Sheppard is a new member of the Ensemble Studio. As a member of the Atelier lyrique de l’Opéra de Montréal, his credits include Hadji in Lakmé, Pong in Turandot, First Philistine in Samson et Dalila, Kronprinz in Silent Night and Joe’s Brother in Dead Man Walking. Additional roles include Fernando in A Little Too Cozy and Brooklyn Boy in Lillian Alling (Banff Centre); Tamino in Die Zauberflöte and Bonario in Volpone (Opera McGill); Pedrillo in Die Entführung aus dem Serail and Monostatos in Die Zauberflöte (Salzburg Festival Young Singers Project); Ferrando in Così fan tutte (Jeunesses Musicales du Canada); and, the title role in Albert Herring and Prince in Rusalka (Opera NUOVA). He is also a winner of the Western Canada Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. This season with the COC, Mr. Sheppard sings the roles of Don Curzio in The Marriage of Figaro (Ensemble Studio performance) and Selimo in Maometto II.
Toronto native Charles Sy won First Prize and the Audience Choice Award at the COC’s Ensemble Studio Competition in 2014. He recently completed his studies at the University of Toronto (UofT), earning a master of music in opera performance. His UofT credits include Mr. Owen in Postcard from Morocco, Ralph Rackstraw in HMS Pinafore, Mayor Upfold in Albert Herring, Alamão in Pedro Malazarte, and covering the title role in Rob Ford: The Opera. Additional credits include Remendado in Carmen (Opera by Request); Lechmere in Owen Wingrave (Banff Centre); Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni (Opera NUOVA); Paolo in The Wings of a Dove (The COSI Connection); and Basilio and Curzio in Le nozze di Figaro (Toronto Summer Opera Workshop). In 2015, he sang the role of Adolfo in La Rondine with Opera Theatre of St. Louis and Tamino in The Magic Flute with the Hawaii Performing Arts Festival. He makes his COC mainstage debut as Gastone in La Traviata this fall.
Last updated: September 1, 2015
Calgary native Jennifer Szeto holds degrees from the University of Toronto and McGill University. With the COC, she has been a rehearsal pianist for Madama Butterfly, Die Walküre and The Barber of Seville. She has served as staff pianist for Calgary Opera, the International Vocal Arts Institute (Tel Aviv) and the Canadian Vocal Arts Institute (Montreal). She was previously an apprentice coach at the Atelier lyrique de l’Opéra de Montréal, where she prepared productions Hansel and Gretel, The Old Maid and the Thief, and Amahl and the Night Visitors. For the COC’s 2015/2016 season, she serves as rehearsal pianist for La Traviata, Siegfried, The Marriage of Figaro and Carmen.
The COC Ensemble Studio, underwritten in part by Peter M. Deeb and The Slaight Family Foundation, is Canada’s premier training program for young opera professionals and provides advanced instruction, hands-on experience, and career development opportunities. The Ensemble Studio is also supported by the Government of Canada through the Department of Canadian Heritage, RBC Foundation, Hal Jackman Foundation and other generous donors.