Parlando: The COC Blog


Meet the 2014 Ensemble Studio Competition Finalists: Eliza Johnson

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.

Eliza Johnson, Soprano

Raised in Stratford, Ont., performing is in Eliza Johnson’s blood. The daughter of brass musicians who played in all of the Stratford Festival musicals, she was “quite literally raised at the theatre” and she credits being surrounded by such world-class performances as some of her most formative dramatic training.

From a young age, Eliza was also heavily involved in the arts, taking piano lessons and dancing competitively. She also performed in community theatre productions and sang in the chorus of various musicals at the Huron Country Playhouse.

Eliza also expresses her artistic side through visual art. In elementary school, she designed costumes for Shakespeare productions in the hobby fair and even considered a career as an artist in high school, before deciding to focus on opera.

“It was during my time with the Saint Mary’s Children’s Choir that I found my voice, discovered the joy of musical collaboration, and truly fell in love with singing,” says Eliza. She began private lessons and competed as a soloist in the Kiwanis Music Festival. By the age of 10, she realized that she wanted to be an opera singer.

She moved to Toronto to earn her bachelor of music in voice performance and a master of music in opera from the University of Toronto (UofT), where her roles included Governess in The Turn of the Screw, Adina in L’elisir d’amore, Despina in Così fan tutte, Rob Ford’s Mother in Rob Ford: The Opera and Lucy in The Telephone. Recently, she appeared as Pamina in The Magic Flute (Opera Lyra’s Opera Studio) and Soeur Valentine in Dialogues des Carmélites (Opera Theatre of Saint Louis/OTSL). In 2014, Eliza was also part of the COC Chorus for the company’s productions of Così fan tutte and A Masked Ball.

After Centre Stage, you’ll be able to see Eliza at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis as Berta in The Barber of Seville. And if she had it her way, you'd someday see Eliza singing her dream role: Violetta in La Traviata. “It would be pretty darn cool,” Eliza admits. “To me, she is the quintessential diva.”

In addition to opera, Eliza is interested in arts education and outreach programs for children from underprivileged communities. “I would love to work to some capacity developing programs that nurture budding creativity in a variety of artistic mediums,” she says.

When she’s not singing, she enjoys live music and theatre, visiting galleries and museums, yoga, cycling, picnics and boardgames. One of the more unusual hobbies she's pick up recently is fermentation and pickling. "Yes, I am a bit of a Flower Child."

As Eliza’s operatic career takes off, she knows she’s lucky to have such a strong support base. “I was very privileged to have been born into a household that was so artistically nurturing,” she says. “I am so grateful to my many teachers and mentors who have helped me along the way, and especially to my parents for always supporting me.”

To learn more about Eliza, follow her on Twitter

The Ensemble Studio Competition is Tuesday, November 25, 2014. 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 / in Centre Stage Finalists / comments (1) / permalink

Marnie Hayden (12/1/2014 9:03:09 PM)
Eliza! Kudos to you for who you are. Your gifts are a blessing to everyone. Your upbringing and nurturing has given us a young woman with a great dream, a great work ethic and a great heart. Your desire to enrich the lives of others less fortunate demonstrates your values. You are the whole package. I know your contributions will make our world a better place. Wishing you all you so richly deserve.

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



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