Digital Audio Series
Key Change is the COC’s new 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 bi-weekly 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 16: An Opera House Like No Other
Celebrating 15 years since its opening in 2006, the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto is a spectacular opera venue, community hub, and home to the Canadian Opera Company. This week, Robyn and Julie look back on the building’s origins, legacy, and future with three guests who all hold a very special connection to the performance space: Jack Diamond, lead architect of the Four Seasons Centre and co-founder of Diamond Schmitt Architects; Janice Oliver, who oversaw design and construction of the opera house; and world-renowned soprano Sondra Radvanovsky, a regular presence on the COC's mainstage.
Join us for a collection of inspiring, heartwarming, and hilarious stories as we mark a milestone for this home of Canadian opera.
Jack Diamond, co-founder and principal of Diamond Schmitt Architects, has practiced architecture since 1968 and is recognized for his astute interpretation of site and context across a wide range of award-winning building types, from civic and residential to performing arts and academic projects. Previous work includes the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto, the New Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia, the Israeli Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, Southbrook Winery in Niagara, Ontario, and the Life Sciences Complex at McGill University in Montreal. A current project, Diamond Schmitt’s transformation of Geffen Hall and a new Concert Hall for the New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center will be completed in the fall of 2022. He is a Royal Architectural Institute of Canada Gold Medalist and an Honorary Fellow of the American Institute of Architects. He is a Member of the Order of Ontario and an Officer of the Order of Canada.
Photo: Michael Cooper
As Executive Director of the Canadian Opera House Corporation, Janice Oliver oversaw the design and construction of the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, bringing years of intense planning into actuality. In her role, Janice coordinated a myriad of parties that included the design team, builders, acousticians, city officials and COC artists and team members. She fondly recalls the unique experience as “the best job I ever had” and has since been a loyal COC subscriber and President’s Council Patron, who can often be seen at various community programming and special events. In honour of her many contributions to the building of the space, Janice holds two named seats in R. Fraser Elliott Hall, one of which she has affectionately dedicated to the entire project team.
Soprano Sondra Radvanovsky is a globally celebrated artist whose exquisite voice and dramatic versatility has led to a remarkable range of repertoire that includes the title roles in Rusalka and Lucrezia Borgia, to Roxanne in Cyrano de Bergerac and the title role in Manon Lescaut. She is widely regarded as one of the premiere Verdi sopranos alive today, as well as one of the premiere interpreters of bel canto. Sondra has performed in every major opera house in the world, including the Royal Opera House, Teatro alla Scala, Opernhaus Zurich, and - of course - the Canadian Opera Company. Her signature interpretations of Verdi’s heroines include the title roles in Aida, Luisa Miller, Elisabeth de Valois in Don Carlo, and Amelia in Simon Boccaengra. In concert, she has sung with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and with the Bayerische Staatsoper, among many others. Her new talk show, Screaming Divas, hosted with friend and fellow soprano Keri Alkema can be seen on YouTube.
Photo: Michael Cooper
On Richard Bradshaw and his “30 years war” to build the opera house – https://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/18/arts/music/18bradshaw.html
About the Mariinsky II, a Diamond Schmitt opera house built in St. Petersburg Russia – https://dsai.ca/projects/mariinsky-ii/
Trailer for the COC’s 2019 production of Rusalka, directed by Sir David McVicar – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6kC_LwgNRcE
Sondra Radvanovky and Keri Alkema’s YouTube show Screaming Divas – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_HplAMNLY_5z0x71_Vif3w
COC’s Opera Makers program and collaboration with Heydon Park Secondary School –
Key Change theme music: R. Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier. Herbert von Karajan, conductor, with the Philharmonia Orchestra; Warner Classics, 1956
"Siegmund heiss' ich" from Wagner’s Die Walküre. Poul Elming. Daniel Barenboim, conductor, with the Orchester der Bayreuther Festspiele. Warner Classics, 1991.
Overture from Mozart's The Magic Flute. Wolfgang Sawallisch, conductor, with the Orchestra of the Bavarian State Opera, Munich. EMI, 1973.
"Sul suo capo aggravi un Dio" from Donizetti's Anna Bolena. Dimitra Theodossiou and Sonia Ganassi. Tiziano Severini, conductor, with the Orchestra I Pomeriggi Musicali di Milano. Naxos, 2001.
Song to the Moon from Dvořák's Rusalka (from the CD Verdi Opera Scenes). Sondra Radvanovsky. Constantine Orbelian, conductor with the Philharmonia of Russia. Delos, 2009.
"O patria mia" from Verdi's Aida (from the CD Verdi Arias). Sondra Radvanovsky. Constantine Orbelian, conductor, with the Philharmonia of Russia. Delos, 2010.
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
MEET OUR CO-HOSTS
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 is now 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 she is the Dramaturg and Director of the upcoming COC commission Fantasma, composed by COC 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). www.juliemcisaac.com