Parlando: The COC Blog


Meet the Ensemble Studio Competition Finalists: Iain MacNeil

On November 26, 2013, for the first time, nine finalists in the Ensemble Studio Competition will now perform from the mainstage of the Four Seasons Centre, accompanied by the internationally acclaimed COC Orchestra conducted by COC Music Director Johannes Debus and hosted by Grammy-nominated and multi-Juno Award winner, singer-songwriter and composer Rufus Wainwright. 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.

Iain MacNeil, bass-baritone

Iain MacNeil didn’t find opera, opera found him, and he’s never looked back.

Born and raised in Brockville, Ontario, Iain was introduced to opera in the first year of his music degree of Dalhousie University. Iain intended to become a music teacher. He studied voice, thinking that he’d be more successful as a vocalist than an instrumentalist in a university setting. However, his teacher at Dalhousie, Marcia Swanston, recognized potential when she heard it. Along with his other teachers, she opened Iain’s eyes (and ears) to a world of music that he hadn’t ever dreamed. 

“I quickly fell in love with singing, and with classical music,” he shares. “And lots of voice lessons and a healthy amount of stage experience has brought me to this point.”

From Dalhousie University, Iain went on to the University of Toronto, where he is currently completing an opera diploma. His opera performances to date include Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni in scenes from Don Giovanni and Dulcamara in scenes from L’elisir d’amore (Centre for Opera Studies in Italy); Bobby in Kurt Weill’s Mahagonny-Songspiel, Sweeney Todd in Sweeney Todd, Brewer in Comedy on the Bridge and Tom/John in The Face on the Barroom Floor (Dalhousie Opera Workshop). Most recently, in 2013, he participated in the Young Singers Project at the Salzburg Festival.

“What I find compelling about opera as an art form is that it depends on refined human voices, and uses them to marry several other powerful forces together, namely music and poetry,” says Iain. “Furthermore, I find that honest use of the voice is one of the most compelling and soul-stirring events known to humankind.”

When not thinking about opera, Iain’s attention is turned to another passion: motorcycles. “I love motorcycles, so I would consider just thinking about owning one a hobby in itself – I certainly spend plenty of time doing that,” he says. Otherwise, he’s playing the guitar, jamming with friends, shooting hoops, longboarding, watching philosophical debates on YouTube or having philosophical discussions, drinking good coffee, sipping micro-brewed beers, having campfires, stargazing and swimming in lakes.

He doesn’t have a dream role, yet, but is open to suggestions. Mozart’s Figaro and Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd are two parts, though, that are already on his radar, “Both are incredibly interesting and enjoyable to me, and having done them both already, I can’t wait to do them again!”

The Ensemble Studio competition is Tuesday, November 26, 2013. Tickets to the Ensemble Studio Competition and Centre Stage cocktail celebration are $100.For more information and to purchase tickets, visit  You can buy tickets here, call COC Ticket Services at 416-363-8231 or go to the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts Box Office (145 Queen St. W.). You can also chat about the event with us on Twitter using #COCCentrestage.

Posted by Meighan Szigeti / in Ensemble Studio / comments (0) / permalink

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



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