Parlando: The COC Blog


Artist Basics: Eric Owens

What he's doing with us: American bass-baritone Eric Owens makes his COC debut in Peter Sellars' contemporary take on Handel's Hercules. Eric previously performed the role for the premiere of this new COC and Lyric Opera of Chicago co-production in 2011 to enthusiastic reviews, and is reuniting with the full cast at the COC this spring. 

Where you might have seen him: Equally at home on the operatic stage and in recital, Eric is particularly well-known to Met Live in HD audiences for his performance as the scene-stealing Alberich in the Metropolitan Opera’s latest Ring Cycle. He is also a popular choice with composers looking to create new, contemporary operas! In addition to the acclaim Eric received for his performance of the title character in the world premiere of Elliot Goldenthal’s Grendel, composer John Adams created both the roles of General Leslie Groves in Doctor Atomic and The Storyteller in A Flowering Tree for Eric.

His background: Would you believe that this world-famous bass-baritone was almost a pianist, or an oboist instead? In his final year of high school, Eric switched his musical focus to vocal studies and went on to earn a bachelor of music in vocal performance from Temple University. He continued his studies in the graduate program at the Curtis Institute of Music and joined the young artist program at the Houston Grand Opera.

Interviews and profiles: NPR Music wrote about Eric just before the Met's production of Das Rheingold premiered in 2010; the New York Times interviewed Eric about his roles as villains and about his career trajectory; Eric opened up to the Los Angeles Times when he was performing as Sharpless in Madama Butterfly at LA Opera; and he received great praise from the Wall Street Journal for his performance in a recital last year. 

What's next for Eric: In the fall of 2013, Eric performs as Alberich in Deutsche Oper Berlin's productions of Das Rheingold and Götterdämmerung, he returns to the Metropolitan Opera in the winter to perform as Sarastro in Julie Taymor's production of The Magic Flute and takes up the role of Vodnik in Rusalka at the Lyric Opera of Chicago just before joining us in Toronto for Hercules.

You can follow Eric on Twitter @EricOwensSinger, on Facebook, or on his website.

Watch Eric perform one of the most memorable arias from Le nozze di Figaro below. 

Photos: (top)Eric Owens; (middle) Eric Owens as Hercules in the Canadian Opera Company/Lyric Opera of Chicago (LOC) co-production of Hercules, 2011, LOC. Photo credits: (top) Dario Acosta; (middle) Dan Rest. 

Posted by Danielle D'Ornellas / in Hercules / comments (0) / permalink


Artist Basics: Dimitri Pittas

What he's doing with us: tenor Dimitri Pittas made his COC debut as the Duke of Mantua in our 2011 production of Rigoletto. This fall he performs as Rodolfo in La Bohème and in the winter he makes his role debut as Riccardo in Un ballo in maschera. (Fun fact: his co-star, Adrianne Pieczonka, also makes her role debut in Ballo as Amelia!)

Where you might have seen him: Dimitri earned rave reviews for his portrayal as the Duke of Mantua when he was last in Toronto. Recently, Dimitri performed as Rodolfo in La Bohème at Frankfurt Opera, Houston Grand Opera and at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. In June he made his role debut as the titular character in Don Carlo at Théâtre du Capitole.

His background: Dimitri's music studies took him to the Crane School of Music, McGill University and SUNY Potsdam, and he was an apprentice artist with the Santa Fe Opera and Pittsburgh Opera. Dimitri later joined the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program and made his house debut with the Met as the Herald in Don Carlo.

Interviews and profiles: Classical Source has a long feature about Dimitri and his career prior to his performance as Macduff in the Royal Opera House's 2011 production of Macbeth, he was featured in Opera News, Dimitri and his fellow Rigoletto cast members were featured in this Toronto Star article and he received a glowing review for his role as Nemorino in L’elisir d’amore at Santa Fe Opera.

What's next for Dimitri: After his performances of La Bohème this fall, Dimitri performs Verdi's Requiem with both the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and Amsterdam's Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, and performs as Oronte in David Alden's production of I lombardi alla prima crociata at the Hamburg State Opera.

You can follow Dimitri on Twitter @DimitriPittas, on Facebook, or on his website.

Watch Dimitri perform as Macduff in Macbeth in the video below.

Photos: (top) Dimitri Pittas. Photo by Kristin Hoebermann; (middle) Ekaterina Sadovnikova as Gilda and Dimitri Pittas as the Duke of Mantua in a scene from the Canadian Opera Company production of Rigoletto, 2011. Photo by Michael Cooper.

Posted by Danielle D'Ornellas / in A Masked Ball / comments (0) / permalink


Artist Basics: Layla Claire

What she's doing with us: Hailing from Penticton, B.C., soprano Layla Claire makes her COC debut at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts as Fiordiligi in Atom Egoyan's brand new production of Mozart's romantic comedy, Così fan tutte.

Where you might have seen her: Well-known for her skills with Mozart's repertoire, Layla has performed a variety of roles onstage at Palm Beach Opera, Tanglewood Festival, Curtis Opera Theatre, Glyndebourne, Aix-en-Provence and at the Metropolitan Opera. While at the Met, she also performed the role of Helena in the world premiere of The Enchanted Island.

Her background: Layla earned an undergraduate and a master's degree from the University of Montreal, continued her studies at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia and took her talents to the Metropolitan Opera's Lindemann Young Artist Development Program. (Two of her Così co-stars, Paul Appleby and Wallis Giunta, also graduated from the Lindemann program.)

Interviews and profiles: Layla was featured in Opera News last year about her time spent at the Lindemann program, a Toronto Star article profiled her performance as Sandrina in La finta giardiniera at the 2012 Aix Festival, and she is featured in a coaching session with conductor James Levine in the PBS documentary, America's Maestro. Most recently, she participated in a Q&A in a CBC Music blog post about being awarded the illustrious Virginia Parker Prize by the Canada Council for the Arts.

What's next for Layla: Before she heads to Toronto for Così in the winter, Layla stars as Pamina in The Magic Flute at the Pittsburgh Opera, and next spring she performs the same role at the Minnesota Opera.

You can follow Layla on Twitter @laylaclairesop, on Facebook, or on her website

Watch Layla perform with Elizabeth DeShong (our Cenerentola from 2010) in this clip from The Enchanted Island.

Photo by Lisa Marie Mazzucco

Posted by Danielle D'Ornellas / in Cosi fan tutte / comments (0) / permalink

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Sara Fulgoni in the COC production of Bluebeard's Castle. Photo: Michael Cooper © 2001