• An Important Update on the Canadian Opera Company’s 2020/2021 Season

    By Alexander Neef

    With the changing temperatures in the air and the fall months upon us, it’s hard to imagine that an entire summer has gone by — and, with it, continued developments around COVID-19 guidelines, including allowances for performing arts organizations in Toronto.

    Earlier this summer, our team made a promise to ourselves – and to you –to explore every possible option for going ahead with the remainder of our planned 2020/2021 season. Given the ongoing uncertainties around large-scale gatherings, however, it has become clear that cancelling all our originally planned winter and spring programming is the right decision for our staff, artists, and audience members.

    Affected programming includes: 

    • Bizet’s Carmen, Janáček’s Katya Kabanova, Verdi’s La Traviata, and Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice
    • The world premiere of our recently commissioned Opera for Young Audiences production, Fantasma
    • All special events, including our annual Operanation and Fine Wine Auction fundraisers

    Subscribers directly affected by these changes can click here for their options.

    I want to emphasize once again that we are incredibly grateful to our entire subscriber and donor community for continuing to support the COC — thanks to all of you, we have been able to adapt our artistic programming for these ever-changing times.

    While this was a difficult decision to make, with a clearer sense of the year ahead, we’re able to develop more opera experiences for this moment, that can still be shared and enjoyed safely.

    The performing arts landscape is changing and we are evolving with it.

    Following the recent announcement of our Opera Everywhere fall programming, I noted that this is a transformative moment for the COC. In this moment, we are excited to continue forging new relationships and artistic partnerships. We’re currently collaborating with local artists, other theatre companies, and the communities around us by sharing our platforms and our home venue, the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, to better amplify their unique storytelling and art.

    We have also been developing new ways for audiences to explore and interact with opera – including the creation of Key Change, our new COC podcast, and expansion of our Opera Makers series for youth into a community-based programming initiative. We look forward to building on these initiatives, well after traditional performance practices resume.

    More performances are on the way.

    Some of the most clearly articulated feedback from our audience and artist survey this past summer was an enthusiastic desire to see more performances and concerts. We have heard this loud and clear!

    We are transforming our popular Free Concert Series into a three-day digital festival that will take place this November and are currently working to curate new opportunities to showcase the brilliant acoustics of our Toronto opera house. 

    As the music continues, so does our commitment to artist training and development. 

    Through all of this, the COC Academy — the company’s career development program for emerging Canadian artists — is as busy as ever. The Ensemble Studio, for singers and pianists/coaches, has already begun its 20/21 season digitally, with nine emerging artists receiving customized online training until in-person coaching can safely resume. Our Composer-in-Residence, Ian Cusson, and Director/Dramaturg-in-Residence, Julie McIsaac, are continuing their residencies with the COC, ensuring that new opera creation and workshopping remains a priority throughout this time. 

    In addition, we’re working with local partners to create tailored musical learning opportunities for young people, especially those in underserved communities. During this time of uncertain access to educational materials and activities, the COC is proud of our teaching artists helping to keep the arts alive and accessible for students.

    When we first announced our 20/21 season, we had called it “monumental” – a larger-than-life year, full of bustling activity and bold new opera. What I’m realizing now is that this season is very much still monumental – even more so, in many ways, than our original plans. This is undoubtedly one of the most challenging times in our company’s history but, together, we are moving opera forward into an exciting future of new possibilities. 


    Alexander Neef
    COC General Director
    Posted in COC News


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