Parlando: The COC Blog


Flute Flashback: 65 Years of Magic at the COC

By Kristin McKinnon, Publicist & Publications Co-ordinator 

This season marks the 65th anniversary of the COC's very first presentation of The Magic Flute. Since 1952, the COC has presented at least seven productions of Mozart's final and most popular opera, including an exclusive Ensemble Studio production and a school tour adaptation for young people. Join us for a trip down memory lane as we revisit some of the COC's most memorable Magic Flute moments.


The COC's first ever production of The Magic Flute took place in February 1952 at the Royal Alexandra Theatre as part of the company's third season, back when it was known as the Opera Festival Association of Toronto. Directed by the COC's co-founder and, later, artist director Herman Geiger-Torel, the opera was sung in English and starred Mary Morrison as Pamina, Robert Price as Tamino, and Lois Marshall as the Queen of the Night. Don Garrard, one of the high priests, would also go on to enjoy an international career.



Left: the Three Ladies played by (l-r) Jean MacPhail, Carol Anne Curry and Claudette Leblanc, were an imposing presence in the COC's 1977 production directed by Bliss Herbert. Right: Peter Barcza's Papageno in 1977 was especially bird-like, while Patricia Wells' Pamina radiated 1970s glamour. Both photos are by Robert C. Ragsdale.



Celebrated illustrator Maurice Sendak, best known for the classic children's story Where the Wild Things Are, co-created the whimsical set and costume designs for the COC's 1982 production. This production also marked Ben Heppner's COC debut, then a member of the Ensemble Studio, as the First Armed Man. Left: Claudia Cummings as the Queen of the Night and Costanza Cuccaro as Pamina. Right: Theodore Baerg as Papageno with Shawna Farrell as Papagena and the Three Spirits. Both photos are by Robert C. Ragsdale.



This COC production was directed by Lotfi Mansouri, the company's then-general director, with majestic sets and costumes designed by Thierry Bosquet. This photo is by Michael Cooper.



This 1993 incarnation, directed by Martha Clarke, proved to be one of the COC's more polarizing productions, but brought together two long-time COC favourites, then at the beginning of their careers: tenor Michael Schade and baritone Russell Braun (far left), playing Tamino and Papageno. Also pictured are (l-r) Tanya Parrish, Norine Burgess and Monica Whicher as the Three Ladies, and Valerie Gonzalez (background) as Papagena. This photo is by Michael Cooper.


The 2005 Ensemble Studio production, which commemorated the 25th anniversary of the prestigious training program, got a little wild with a lion-taming Tamino, played by tenor Victor Micallef (now one of the three "Tenors"). At the time, this was the program's largest production to-date. It was directed by Andrew Porter, and performed in the MacMillan Theatre at the University of Toronto. This photo is by Michael Cooper.



After the 1993 production, The Magic Flute was not seen on the mainstage again until 2011, with Michael Schade returning to reprise the role of Tamino in the company's new production by Diane Paulus, revived this season. It was the first Flute to grace the stage at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. This photo is by Michael Cooper.

The Magic Flute is on stage at the Four Seasons Centre until February 24, 2017. Click here for more information and tickets.

Banner photo: Owen McCausland as Tamino and Kirsten MacKinnon as Pamina in The Magic Flute (COC, 2017), photo by Michael Cooper.

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The 2017 Christina and Louis Quilico Awards

On February 13, the rising stars of the Ensemble Studio competed in the fourth biennial Christina and Louis Quilico Awards. The singers were accompanied by Ensemble Studio pianists/intern coaches Hyejin Kwon and Stéphane Mayer, and the evening was judged by COC General Director Alexander Neef, COC Chorus Master Sandra Horst, and internationally acclaimed soprano Adrianne Pieczonka. Mezzo-soprano Emily D'Angelo and soprano Danika Lorèn shared the top prize, taking home $4,000 each, while tenor Charles Sy won $2,000. The event took place in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts as a part of the Free Concert Series. Here are some of our favourite photos from the evening!

Emily D'Angelo – Mezzo-Soprano

Emily D'Angelo, accompanied here by Stéphane Mayer, sang "Non piú mesta" from Rossini's La Cenerentola and "Coeur sans amour" from Massenet's Cendrillon.


Danika Lorèn, accompanied here by Hyejin Kwon, sang "Il primo ardor" from Handel's Ariodante and "Caro nome" from Verdi's Rigoletto.


Charles Sy, accompanied here by Stéphane Mayer, prepared "I must with speed amuse her" from Handel's Semele and "Ah! Lève-toi, soleil!" from Gounod's Roméo et Juliette.

Lauren Eberwein – Mezzo-soprano

Lauren Eberwein, accompanied here by Hyejin Kwon with Stéphane Mayer page-turning, prepared "Wie du warst" from Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier and "Sgombra è la sacra selva" from Bellini's Norma.


Bruno Roy sang "Oh! Oh! Qu'est-ce que c'est?" from Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande and "Lieben, Hassen, Hoffen, Zagen" from Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos.

This year's competition was generously supported by Burgundy Asset Management and Gluskin Sheff Asset Management and was administered by the Ontario Arts Foundation.

Banner photo: (l-r) Ontario Arts Foundation Executive Director Alan Walker, Christina Petrowska Quilico, Charles Sy, COC Chorus Master Sandra Horst, Danika Lorèn and Emily D'Angelo, Adrianne Pieczonka, and COC General Director Alexander Neef. All photos by Chris Hutcheson.

Posted by Tanner Davies / in Free Concert Series / comments (0) / permalink


Get to Know Andrew Haji!


Tenor Andrew Haji is certainly keeping himself busy at the COC lately. As if playing the role of Tamino in our current production of The Magic Flute was not enough, Andrew is also performing a recital of love songs on February 14 as a part of the Free Concert Series, returning this spring to sing Gabriel Dumont in Louis Riel, and preparing for the role of Nemorino in our production of The Elixir of Love next season! Why not get to know a little more about this former Ensemble Studio member who is becoming one of Canada's great opera singers?

What is your go to song for karaoke?

"Circle of Life" from The Lion King

What is the best advice you've been given?

Follow your heart

If you weren't an opera singer, you would be...?

An IT consultant

What is your dream operatic role, regardless of voice type?

Rodolfo from La Bohème

What book have you read again and again?

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

iPhone or Android?

iPhone up until now, but Android is growing on me!

You can only watch one movie/TV show for the rest of your life. What move/TV show would that be?

Star Trek: The Next Generation

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?

New Zealand

What sequel to an opera would you like to see happen?

The Marriage of Figaro II: Basilio's Revenge

Who are three people, alive or dead or fictional, that you would like to have dinner with?

Luciano Pavarotti, Steve Jobs, and Captain Jean-Luc Picard

What is the farthest you have been from home?

Athens, Greece

What's your favourite sports team?

Any Toronto team, as long as they're winning

Any pre-performance or post-performance rituals?

Rest, water, and deep breathing

If you were in a boy band, what would the band's name be?

was in a boy band! We called ourselves "Shades of Black." Don't ask me why.

What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?

I have webbed toes.

What would be the title of your autobiography?

A Pirate's Life for Me—Living on the High Cs!

What's something that you have always wanted to try but you've been too scared to do?

Eating a durian.

What is one piece of advice for Tamino?

Start learning how to play the flute!

See Andrew Haji as Tamino in The Magic Flute, on stage now at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts until February 24! For more information and tickets, click here

Andrew is set to perform the role of Nemorino in Donizetti's The Elixir of Love during the 2017 Fall season! Click here for more information on subscribing to the 17/18 Season to see this and more.

Finally, Andrew is performing a solo recital of love songs, accompanied by Head of the Ensemble Studio, Liz Upchurch, on Valentine's Day! This recital is a part of the Free Concert Series in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre. For more information on attending this free performance, click here.

Photo credits (top - bottom): Andrew Haji in The Magic Flute (COC, 2017), photo by Michael Cooper; Andrew Haji and Elena Tsallagova in The Magic Flute (COC, 2017), photo by Chris Hutcheson; The members of Shades of Black; Andrew Haji and Elena Tsallagova in The Magic Flute (COC, 2017), photo by Michael Cooper.

Posted by Tanner Davies / in The Magic Flute / 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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