On November 25, 2014, seven finalists will take to the mainstage of the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts for the Ensemble Studio Competition, the feature event of Centre Stage gala. The event will be hosted by world-renowned Canadian tenor Ben Heppner, and the singers will be accompanied by the internationally acclaimed COC Orchestra conducted by COC Music Director Johannes Debus. To watch the competition and see Canada's rising opera stars, visit our Centre Stage website and buy your tickets today! Over the next two weeks, follow along on Parlando as we introduce you to each of our finalists.
Charles Sy, Tenor
Born in Toronto, but was raised on the lake shore in Mississauga, Charles Sy discovered opera later in life. He didn’t come from a musical family but, being somewhat shy, was able to express himself freely through performance. “One of my proudest moments was when I was given the big solo in 'O little town of Bethlehem' in the annual Christmas pageant”, he says.
From there, Charles became involved with musical theatre. “I loved the deep emotional commitment one had to make with a work while developing a character,” he says. “I became obsessed with being on the stage and felt most at home while I was performing.”
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DIMITRI KATOTAKIS, BARITONE
As a toddler growing up in Toronto, Dimitri Katotakis would stand in his diapers ‘conducting’ Beethoven symphonies in front of a speaker system. “My parents always knew I had the performing bug,” he says. So it was only natural for him to attend Etobicoke School for the Arts, where he performed in several musicals and eventually discovered opera.
“I found opera to be extremely captivating the first time I saw a show and I have never looked back,” says Dimitri. “I loved how the music of opera can make a story feel both hugely intimate and grand at the same time. Performing in or seeing a well-realized opera is like getting a powerful shot of artistic life.”
Zoe Band, Mezzo-soprano
Mezzo-soprano Zoe Band’s life revolves around music. “My hobby, joy, job, and passion is music. When I’m not listening to it, I’m working to make money to pay for lessons,” she says. “When I have time to myself, I practice!”
Born and raised in Toronto, Zoe got her start singing in choir and playing classical guitar. Her guitar teacher’s wife was a singing teacher and “from there it began.”
Zoe studied music at the Peabody Conservatory, earning her bachelor and master of music in voice performance. Her roles with Peabody Opera included Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Miss Benson in Lakmé, Ferdinand in Ariel’s Tempest, Betty Parris in The Crucible, Anna in The Trio and Zinnie in Dora. She has also appeared as Lucretia in The Rape of Lucretia (HexaCollective); Hansel in Hansel and Gretel (Toronto Summer Opera and Little Patuxtent Opera); and Patricia Hutton in Camelot Requiem (The Figaro Project).
One day, she hopes to add Cherubino in The Marriage of Figaro to her repertoire, and she’d especially love to sing the title role Handel’s Ariodante. “What a role!”
Sara Fulgoni in the COC production of Bluebeard's Castle. Photo: Michael Cooper © 2001