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.
EPISODE 11: Ask Us Anything
This week on Key Change, Robyn and Julie invite listeners to hop into the hosting seat with a special “Ask Us Anything” edition of the podcast. With a little help from some friends, they’re tackling everything you ever wanted to know about opera and breaking down some of the mystery that can still linger around the opera-going experience.
Subscribe to Key Change, wherever you get your podcasts:
Rebecca Caine is a soprano opera singer and musical theatre performer who has uniquely divided her career between the two art forms. Born in Toronto and having studied at the Guildhall School of Music in London, career highlights include creating the role of Cosette in Les Miserables , as well as singing the role of Christine in Toronto’s original cast of Phantom of the Opera. Her operatic work with the Canadian Opera Company includes the title role in Lulu, Vixen in The Cunning Little Vixen, Pamina in The Magic Flute, Despina in Cosí fan tutte, and Micaëla in Carmen.
Bermudian-American baritone Jonathan Christopher is swiftly establishing himself as a versatile vocalist around the world. He performed in the Canadian premiere of the musical Hamilton, understudying the roles of Burr and Washington. In New York, he’s performed in critically acclaimed opera and musical productions at Lincoln Center (Davóne Tines and Michael Schachter’s The Black Clown ), Signature Theatre (Dave Malloy’s Octet ), and Brooklyn Playhouse Theatre (David Chesky’s La Farranucci ). Jonathan is currently working on two musicals set to open on Broadway in the coming seasons.
German-born conductor Johannes Debus has been Music Director of the COC since 2009. When he is not conducting in Toronto, Mr. Debus is very active with international engagements that include appearances with: the BBC Proms; the orchestras of Boston, Houston, and the National Arts Centre; the Spoleto, Bregenz and Tanglewood festivals; and at opera companies such as San Francisco, Berlin Staatsoper, Opera Frankfurt, and Bayerische Staatsoper. Most recently, he conducted Rusalka, Hansel & Gretel, and Otello with the COC. He can also be seen in the company’s “Solo Spotlights with the COC Orchestra” video series.
Liz Upchurch is one of the most sought after pianists and vocal coaches in Canada. She is a graduate of the Royal Academy of music in London, where she won several prizes as a solo pianist and accompanist, and is currently the Head of the COC Ensemble Studio. In her time with the company, Liz has helped to train an entire generation of Canadian opera singers that includes artists such as David Pomeroy, Krisztina Szabo, Emily D’Angelo, and many more. As a pianist, she has performed all over Europe and been broadcast with the BBC, Norwegian Radio, and CBC.
Perryn Leech is the Canadian Opera Company’s newest General Director, officially taking over as company leader in March 2021. Born in Brighton, England, Perryn has dedicated more than 35 years to the performing arts industry, starting at the Glyndebourne Festival and then as a freelance lighting technician and Head of Lighting at the Edinburgh International Festival, before moving to English National Opera, and then served as Technical Director at Welsh National Opera. Prior to joining the COC, Perryn spent over a decade as the Managing Director of Houston Grand Opera (HGO), one of the largest and most highly acclaimed opera companies in the United States.
First-generation Nikkei-Canadian settler Teiya Kasahara 笠原貞野 (they/them) is a queer, gender non-binary, interdisciplinary creator-performer. Teiya is a co-founder of Amplified Opera, a new company which is bringing Canada an “injection of [...] creativity & politics of inclusivity” (barczablog) to the opera sector. Within their creation practice they explore the intersections of identity through opera, theatre, electronics, and taiko disrupting and reimagining the operatic canon. Teiya is the founder/head coach of the Vocal Dōjō, and makes their home in Tkarón:to.
Johannes' favourite Italian art song, “Amarilli mia bella”
Liz’s favourite rendition of “Caro mio ben”
Maria Callas as Rosina in The Barber of Seville
Screaming Divas with Sonda Radvanovsky and Keri Alkema
Leontyne Price interview mentioned by Jonathan Christopher
Key Change theme music: R. Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier. Herbert von Karajan, conductor, with the Philharmonia Orchestra; Warner Classics, 1956
Finale from Lehár’s The Merry Widow. John Eliot Gardiner, conductor, with the Wiener Philharmoniker and the Monteverdi Choir. Deutsche Grammaphon, 1994.
“How deep is your love” from the soundtrack album for Saturday Night Fever. Written and performed by the Bee Gees. RSO, 1977.
“I know a place where the wild thyme blows” from Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. James Bowman. Richard Hickox, conductor, with the City of London Sinphonia. Erato, 1993.
“Una voce poco fa” from Rossini’s The Barber of Seville. Beverly Sills. James Levin, conductor, with the London Symphony Orchestra. EMI Classics, 1975.
“Amarilli” from Arie Antiche. Cecilia Bartoli. György Fischer, piano. Decca, 1992.
“My Shot” from Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton (original Broadway cast recording). Atlantic, 2015.
“From the Gutter” from Britten’s Peter Grimes. Dame Felicity Lott, Patricia Payne, Maria Bovino and Gillian Webster. Bernard Haitink, conductor, with the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. EMI Classics, 2005.
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