Digital Audio Series

Key Change
is the COC’s original podcast, co-hosted by classical singer and culture critic Robyn Grant-Moran, a member of the COC’s Circle of Artists, alongside stage director, dramaturg and COC Academy graduate Julie McIsaac. Our episodes explore the operagoing experience from a variety of perspectives, offering a fresh take on today's opera issues with special guests from the opera field and beyond.

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Episode 17: Alex Ross & Wagner's The Flying Dutchman

Welcome back to Key Change! Our first episode of the 2022/2023 season welcomes the return of co-hosts Robyn Grant-Moran and Julie McIsaac as they chat with special guest Alex Ross about our inaugural fall production, Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman. An acclaimed music critic and author of the international bestseller Wagnerism: Art and Politics in the Shadow of Music, Ross joins us to explore the conflicting forces of one of music’s most influential and controversial figures.



Alex Ross has been the music critic of The New Yorker since 1996. His first book, The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century, published in 2007, won a National Book Critics Circle Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. An essay collection, Listen to This, appeared in 2010. His third book, Wagnerism: Art and Politics in the Shadow of Music, was published in 2020. Ross has received the George Peabody Medal, an Arts and Letters Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a MacArthur Fellowship.


Alex Ross’ book, Wagnerism: Art and Politics in the Shadow of Music 

Sunday Reading: The World of Alex Ross

Curb Your Enthusiasm: Whistling Wagner 

1944 American film noir Christmas Holiday 


Key Change theme music: R. Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier. Herbert von Karajan, conductor, with the Philharmonia Orchestra; Warner Classics, 1956

“Overture” from Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman. Johannes Debus, conductor, with the COC Orchestra (COC, 2022)

Excerpts from Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman. Astrid Varnay as Senta, Hermann Uhde as The Dutchman. Joseph Keilberth, conductor, with the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra & Chorus; 1955

Excerpt from Wagner’s Rienzi. Heinrich Hollreiser, conductor, with the Staatskapelle Dresen; EMI, 1976

“Hojotoho! Heiaha!” from Wagner’s Die Walküre. Herbert von Karajan, conductor, with the Berliner Philharmoniker; Deutsche Grammophon, 2017

"Grane, mein Ross, sei mir gegrüsst!" from Wagner’s Götterdämmerung. Anne Evans as Brünnhilde. Daniel Barenboim, conductor, with the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra (Bayreuth, 1991)

“Siegfried Idyll” by Richard Wagner. Sergiu Celibidache, conductor, with the Münchner Philharmoniker

“Liebestod” from Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde. Tamara Wilson as Isolde. Johannes Debus, conductor, with the COC Orchestra (COC, 2021)


Episode 1: Welcome to the Opera House
Special guests: Soprano Angel Blue, Canadian visual artist Shary Boyle, COC Music Director Johannes Debus, Soprano and Ensemble Studio artist Midori Marsh

Episode 2: Sounds Like Opera
Special guests: Musicologist Hannah Chan-Hartley and acoustician Bob Essert

Episode 3: Whose Story Is This?
Special guests: Theatre director Ravi Jain and multi-disciplinary artist Teiya Kasahara

Episode 4: Making Theatre Magic
Special guests: The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson and Canadian designer Michael Levine

Episode 5: Visions for the Future
Special guests: COC Composer-in-Residence Ian Cusson and best-selling author Cherie Dimaline

Episode 6: In Conversation with Perryn Leech and Alexander Neef
Special guests: COC General Director Perryn Leech and former General Director Alexander Neef

Episode 7: Opera & Activism – Part I
Special guest: Musicologist Rena Roussin

Episode 8: Opera & Activism – Part II
Special guest: Conductor Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser

Episode 9: In Conversation with Michael Greyeyes
Special guest: Actor/director/dancer/choreographer Michael Greyeyes

Episode 10: Opera & Criticism – Part I
Special guest: Music critic Anne Midgette

Episode 11: Ask Us Anything
Special guests: Rebecca Caine, Jonathan Christopher, Johannes Debus, Liz Upchurch, Perryn Leech, Teiya Kasahara

Bonus Episode: In Conversation with Rebecca Caine
Special guest: Soprano Rebecca Caine

Episode 12: Opera & Contemporary Art
Special guests: Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson and Adelina Vlas, Associate Curator of Contemporary Art at the Art Gallery of Ontario

Episode 13: Opera & the Body
Special guests: Kinetics Performance Consultant Jennifer Swan, Mezzo-soprano Krisztina Szabó

Episode 14: Opera & Space – Scale and Immersion
Special guests: Director Yuval Sharon and multidisciplinary artist Debi Wong

Episode 15: Opera & Criticism – Part II
Special guest: Theatre critic Karen Fricker

Episode 16: An Opera House Like No Other
Special guests: Architect Jack Diamond, Canadian Opera House Corporation Executive Director Janice Oliver, and Soprano Sondra Radvanovsky



Robyn Grant-Moran (Métis) is a classical singer, writer, and a jack of many trades who, in 2018 met the requirements to call herself a Bachelor of the Fine Arts at York University. That same year, Robyn participated in the Performance Criticism Training Program with Generator Toronto where she learned that theatre criticism can be used to push for more inclusive spaces and champion voices less heard and often misunderstood; so of course she fell in love. Since then, she’s been published in Alt.Theatre and Intermission Magazine, won the Nathan Cohen Award for Outstanding Emerging Critic, and joined the Canadian Opera Company’s Circle of Artists, to name a few. Robyn currently resides in Tkaronto (Toronto), weathering the pandemic with her wee rat dog in a box in the sky.


Canadian stage director Julie McIsaac was named the COC’s first Director/Dramaturg-in-Residence in 2019 and subsequently Lead Curator of Opera Everywhere, the company's reimagined 20/21 season. A versatile opera and theatre artist, her projects work towards reshaping and revitalizing the stories told on stage. During her residency with the COC, she served as Assistant Director on Joel Ivany's production of Hansel and Gretel (COC) and in March 2022, she directed the world premiere of the COC commission Fantasma by former Composer-in-Residence Ian Cusson with libretto by Colleen Murphy. Julie earned her Master’s degree in Theatre from the University of York (UK) and is also a graduate of Carleton University (Music) and the Canadian College of Performing Arts (Theatre Performance and Playwriting).


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