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Avril Sequeira, Director of Public Relations
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    By Public Relations
    Read the PDF version here.

    Lineup features five new-to-Toronto productions, including rarely performed Medea, and a world premiere opera based on Canadian contralto Portia White

    Toronto – The Canadian Opera Company announced its 2023/2024 season today featuring a slate of exciting new productions and rare musical gems that showcase the most celebrated of international stars, as well as incredible homegrown talent.

    “The Canadian Opera Company is a beacon for the very best in operatic storytelling and experience,” says COC General Director Perryn Leech. “In creating this season, we collaborated extensively with creators and companies from all over the world to share new programming with our audiences. Throughout 2023/2024, we can explore familiar and less familiar repertoire through innovative and thought-provoking new productions and also hear the most thrilling singing to be heard anywhere. It is a heady mix.”

    “We are proud to continue the creation and presentation of contemporary opera,” continues Leech. “As part of our ongoing commitment to introducing distinctive new voices and reaching a wider audience, we are honoured to present the world premiere of Aportia Chryptych: A Black Opera For Portia White at the Canadian Opera Company Theatre in summer of 2024.”

    For complete cast and creative team information, please download the media kit here or visit

    COC’s 2023/2024 SEASON AT-A-GLANCE

    Fidelio by Ludwig Van Beethoven
    September 29, October 1, 7, 12, 14, 18, and 20, 2023
    Sung in German with English SURTITLESTM
    A production from San Francisco Opera

    The Canadian Opera Company launches its season with Beethoven’s only opera, a work unseen at the COC in nearly 15 years. Finnish soprano Miina-Liisa Värelä stars as Leonore, a woman who has disguised herself as a man named Fidelio in order to save her husband from being imprisoned for his revolutionary political views. American tenor Clay Hilley sings the role of the prisoner Florestan, and rising Canadian soprano and Ensemble Studio graduate Anna-Sophie Neher is Marzelline, the daughter of the prison guard Rocco. American director Matthew Ozawa transports the storyline to a modern-day prison facility, creating a powerful reminder of the continued conflict between corruption and tyranny, and justice and freedom. COC Music Director Johannes Debus conducts the master composer’s triumphant musical score.

    La Bohème by Giacomo Puccini
    October 6, 8, 11, 13, 19, 21, 22, and 28, 2023
    Sung in Italian with English SURTITLESTM
    A Canadian Opera Company co-production with Houston Grand Opera and San Francisco Opera

    The irresistibly charming production by Tony Award-winning director John Caird returns this fall, inviting audiences on a whirlwind of youthful pleasure and ill-fated romance. Set against the blustery winter streets of 19th century Paris, the opera follows a band of struggling artists on a quest for love and purpose. Real-life husband and wife, tenor Pene Pati and soprano Amina Edris, play the poet Rodolfo and seamstress Mimì who captures his heart; this is Pati’s COC debut and a return to Toronto for Edris, whose portrayal of Violetta in the COC’s La Traviata last spring earned her the Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding Performance. Two performances of Rodolfo will be sung by Australian-Chinese tenor Kang Wang, and a vibrant cast of fresh voices round out the cast, including baritone Joo Won Kang as Marcello, current Ensemble Studio soprano Charlotte Siegel as Musetta, Congolese bass Blaise Malaba as Colline, and Canadian baritone Justin Welsh as Schaunard. Magnetic Canadian maestro Jordan de Souza makes his COC debut, conducting one of Puccini’s most achingly beautiful operas.

    The Cunning Little Vixen by Leoš Janáček
    January 26, 28, February 3, 8, 10, 14, and 16, 2024
    Sung in Czech with English SURTITLESTM
    A production from English National Opera

    In a poignant and topical exploration of humans’ relationship with nature led by English director Jamie Manton, The Cunning Little Vixen tells the tale of a chance encounter that forever changes the lives of everyone involved. In this new-to-Toronto production, Canadian soprano Jane Archibald steps into the role of Sharp Ears, a clever fox who narrowly escapes a local forester that captures and attempts to domesticate her, sung by British baritone Christopher Purves. Janáček’s lush score has not been presented at the COC since 1998, and COC Music Director Johannes Debus expertly leads the COC Orchestra through the opera’s poetic beauty and unique rhythms. On-stage, colourfully costumed creatures from London-based designer Tom Scutt are juxtaposed against the modern reality of deforested landscapes, also by Scutt. With its mesmerizing storytelling, this family-friendly opera is a perfect introduction for new audiences and a rarely performed treat for seasoned opera-goers.

    Don Giovanni by Wolfgang A. Mozart
    February 2, 4, 7, 9, 15, 17, and 24, 2024
    Sung in Italian with English SURTITLESTM
    A co-production of Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; Gran Teatre del Liceu; The Israeli Opera; and Houston Grand Opera

    Mozart's dark, twisted masterpiece is presented as never seen before. When infamous predator Don Giovanni’s latest attempted seduction ends in murder, what follows is a twisted, supernatural tale of guilt and vengeance that is equal parts glamour and gloom. UK-based director Amy Lane takes on Kasper Holten’s original vision of a sensory fusion of breathtaking visuals, light, and music. Here, a high-tech revolving set by award-winning and sought-after set designer Es Devlin converges with imaginative video projections from Luke Halls to create an Escher-like web of interlocking rooms. Canadian bass-baritone and Ensemble Studio alumnus Gordon Bintner stars as Don Giovanni, returning to the COC following his “compulsively watchable” (The Globe and Mail) performance as the Count in the COC’s The Marriage of Figaro (2023). Romanian soprano Anita Hartig, Armenian soprano Mané Galoyan, and Italian baritone Paolo Bordogna also star in COC debuts.

    Don Pasquale by Gaetano Donizetti
    April 26, May 2, 4, 8, 10, 12, 14*, and 18, 2024
    Sung in Italian with English SURTITLESTM
    A production from Scottish Opera

    This new-to-Toronto production marks the first appearance of Don Pasquale at the COC in 30 years. The fizzy, feel-good opera follows the aging title character and his love-struck nephew Ernesto, as they pursue the same young woman in a comic clash of generations. Georgian baritone Misha Kiria makes his COC debut as Don Pasquale, with Argentinian tenor Santiago Ballerini returning to Toronto as Ernesto, alongside Canadian baritone Joshua Hopkins as Pasquale’s friend Dr. Malatesta. The French-Canadian creative team of Renaud Doucet and André Barbe make a company debut, setting the action in 1960s Rome and topping it with Technicolor and Pop Art-inspired visuals. The work of Italian composer Gaetano Donizetti is known for challenging the best bel canto artists, upping the vocal ante at every possible opportunity, and Canadian conductor Jacques Lacombe returns to the COC podium to showcase these artists’ and musicians’ musical virtuosity.

    *Don Pasquale – Ensemble Studio Performance
    Tuesday, May 14, 2024
    Sung in Italian with English SURTITLESTM
    In a special one-night-only performance, artists of the COC Ensemble Studio will perform Don Pasquale, illustrating the crucial mainstage experience provided through the country’s leading career development program for emerging opera artists. Support the exceptional talents of these artists and the future of Canadian opera! For more information, please visit:

    Medea by Luigi Cherubini
    May 3, 5, 9, 11, 15, 17, and 25, 2024
    Sung in Italian with English SURTITLESTM
    A co-production of the Metropolitan Opera, Greek National Opera, Canadian Opera Company, and Lyric Opera of Chicago

    Never before seen on the COC stage and seldom performed anywhere in the world, Medea is an exquisite rarity, featuring one of the most challenging title roles in opera history. The ancient Greek myth details a powerful sorceress who aids Giasone (Jason), leader of the famous Argonauts, in stealing the Golden Fleece, only to soon be abandoned by him for another. What follows is a chilling, no-holds-barred unleashing of fury that sees Medea get the last word against all who have wronged her. Canadian soprano Sondra Radvanovsky takes on the daunting title role with a performance that is ferocious, committed, and viscerally intense. She reunites with renowned Scottish director Sir David McVicar who she previously collaborated with on the COC’s Rusalka in 2019 to widespread acclaim, and is joined by an unmissable cast featuring a number of Metropolitan Opera regulars: American tenor Matthew Polenzani, American soprano Janai Brugger, and American bass-baritone Eric Owens.

    Aportia Chryptych: A Black Opera for Portia White by HAUI x Sean Mayes
    June 14, 15, and 16, 2024
    A world premiere opera

    Nova Scotian contralto Portia White was the first Black Canadian concert performer to achieve international fame in the mid-20th century, hailed as the best classical voice of her generation. Yet, despite her accomplishments, her story has been largely erased from Canadians’ collective memory. Aportia Chryptych: A Black Opera for Portia White is a bold, new Black opera from Canadian director and librettist HAUI and Toronto and New York-based composer Sean Mayes that sets out to reclaim Portia White’s story, featuring Canadian soprano Neema Bickersteth and Emmy Award-winning soprano Adrienne Danrich. The opera begins at the end of Portia's life, as she is thrust into the crossroads of the spirit realm. As she is fractured into her divine feminine trinity of Body, Soul, and Spirit, she must reconcile the coded and cryptic secrets from her past to shed her earthly existence and finally ascend. Spoken word, rap, folk songs, hip-hop, R&B, and classic opera repertoire collide in an explosive score that seeks to break down musical silos and unite artistic and cultural communities.

    All repertoire, dates, productions, and casting are subject to change without notice.


    Centre Stage: Ensemble Studio Competition
    October 26, 2023

    Undoubtedly one of the most exciting evenings of the year where history is made, and a star is born, Centre Stage: Ensemble Studio Competition showcases the new generation of brilliant young singers as they compete in the final round of auditions for the Ensemble Studio, Canada’s leading career development program for emerging opera artists. Finalists, selected through rigorous cross-country auditions, perform one aria each for the evening’s live audience, demonstrating technical ability, dramatic expression, and overall stage presence. For most singers in the competition, this moment represents their biggest artistic accomplishment in their careers to date— and a potentially life-changing experience. All proceeds from the unforgettable showcase go to the Ensemble Studio, making it a great chance to support emerging Canadian talent.


    Subscriptions to the 23/24 season are available now and may be purchased online at, or by calling 416-363-8231. Subscribe by May 30, 2023 to guarantee your renewable seats.

    Single tickets to all 23/24 operas will be available to the general public on Monday, August 28, 2023. Subscribers, donors, and newsletter subscribers will be contacted directly with details on exclusive pre-sale access.

    Opera Under 30 offers $22 tickets to patrons under the age of 30.


    Season Sponsor: BMO Financial Group

    Production of La Bohème originally made possible by Jerry & Geraldine Heffernan.

    Production of Aportia Chryptych: A Black Opera for Portia White produced by the Canadian Opera Company, in association with the National Arts Centre’s National Creation Fund, Canada Council for the Arts, and Ontario Arts Council.

    Sondra Radvanovsky is generously sponsored by an anonymous donor.

    Johannes Debus is generously sponsored by George & Kathy Dembroski.

    Sandra Horst and the COC Chorus are generously underwritten by Tim & Frances Price.

    The COC Orchestra is generously sponsored, in part, by W. Bruce C. Bailey, in honour of Christie Darville, COC Deputy General Director, and Johannes Debus, COC Music Director, and in part by The Schulich Foundation.

    Thank you to the entire COC community, including our COC Board of Directors, our Corporate Sponsors and Foundation Supportersgenerous public fundersunion partners, and — most critically — our audience. Your inspiring support ensures that opera flourishes, uniting global audiences and paving the way for a vibrant future.

    Based in Toronto, the Canadian Opera Company is the largest producer of opera in Canada and one of the largest in North America. General Director Perryn Leech joined the company in 2021, forming a leadership team with Music Director Johannes Debus and Deputy General Director Christie Darville. The COC enjoys a loyal audience, including a dedicated base of subscribers, and has an international reputation for artistic excellence and creative innovation. Its diverse repertoire includes new commissions and productions, local and international collaborations with leading opera companies and festivals, and attracts the world’s foremost Canadian and international artists. The company is an incubator for the future of the art form, nurturing Canada’s new wave of opera performers and creators with customized training and support. The COC’s purpose-built opera house, the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, is hailed internationally as one of the finest in the world. For more information, visit

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    For more information, please contact: 
    Avril Sequeira, Director of Public Relations, email: [email protected]
    Davin Leivonen-Fok, Communications Coordinator, email: [email protected]

    Posted In Press Releases


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