La Scena Musicale

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Canadian Opera Company Announces its 2010-11 Season


Toronto, Ontario – Today, at a press conference at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, the Canadian Opera Company proudly announced its 2010/2011 season. Featuring two new productions of opera classics, two COC premieres, and three brilliant productions from around the world, the COC’s 2010/11 season consists of a diverse line-up of operas featuring some major star power. The company presents two new productions of operatic favourites Aida and The Magic Flute; COC premieres of the 20th century opera Nixon in China and the COC’s first Gluck opera,Orfeo ed Euridice; and the long-awaited returns of Death in Venice, La Cenerentolaand Ariadne auf Naxos.

Making their COC debuts in the upcoming season are singers Jane Archibald, Lawrence Brownlee, Michele Capalbo, Alice Coote, Sondra Radvanovsky, and conductors

Sir Andrew Davis, and Pablo Heras-Casado; and directors Yoshi Oida and Diane Paulus. Returning artists include singers Isabel Bayrakdarian, Tracy Dahl, Robert Gleadow, Scott Hendricks, Richard Margison, Adrianne Pieczonka, Brett Polegato, Michael Schade, and Lawrence Zazzo; directors Tim Albery, Neil Armfield, Robert Carsen, and James Robinson; and conductor Harry Bicket. All performances are in the company’s home, the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, and feature the renowned COC Orchestra and Chorus.

The 2010/2011 season is representative of my pledge to present opera of the highest international standards. With great new productions of classic favourites, the introduction of works never before seen on our stages, and brilliant, imaginative productions from around the world, you have a perfect opera season,” said Alexander Neef, COC’s General Director.

The Canadian Opera Company’s 61st season opens with a new COC production of Giuseppe Verdi’s operatic masterpiece Aida, last produced by the COC in 1986. Created by the same team responsible for the COC’s 2008 award-winning production of War and Peace, Aida is conducted by COC Music Director Johannes Debus and directed by Tim Albery. Aida is the story of an Ethiopian princess enslaved in Egypt whose love affair with her enemy’s military commander, Radames, seals their fate. American dramatic sopranoSondra Radvanovsky makes her much-anticipated company and role debut as Aida, and shares the role with Canadian soprano Michele Capalbo who also makes her COC debut. American baritone Scott Hendricks (Don Carlos, and the upcomingOtello) returns as Amonasro, the King of Ethiopia. Also making their COC debuts are Australian-born tenor Rosario La Spina singing the role of Radames, and American mezzo-soprano Jill Grove as Amneris, daughter of the King of Egypt, also in love with Radames,. This new production is designed by War and Peace collaboratorsHildegard Bechtler (set) and Thomas C. Hase (lighting), and costumes are designed by Jon Morrell. Aida runs for 12 performances on October 2, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 21, 24, 27, 30, and November 2, 5, 2010 and is sung in Italian with English SURTITLES™.

The fall season continues with Benjamin Britten’s Death in Venice, not performed by the COC since 1984. Britten’s final opera, based on Thomas Mann’s novella, is about an aging writer in crisis, who, while seeking salvation and creative inspiration in the light and splendour of early 20th-century Venice, instead becomes bewitched with the vitality and beauty of a young boy. Returning to lead the COC Orchestra and Chorus is British conductor Steuart Bedford(1993’s Hänsel und Gretel), recognized as one of today’s leading experts on the works of Benjamin Britten. Notably, Mr. Bedford conducted the world premiere of the opera in 1973. Acclaimed Japanese-born Yoshi Oida, who as part of Peter Brook’s renowned theatre company has worked as an actor and director, makes his COC debut directing this production. Singing the lead role of Gustav von Aschenbach is British tenor Alan Oke who received widespread acclaim for his portrayal. British baritone Peter Savidge (2005’s Rodelinda) returns to the COC to sing the role of the Traveller. Making his company debut singing the voice of the Greek god Apollo is British countertenor William Towers. Death in Venice is a co-production between the Aldeburgh Festival, Opéra national de Lyon, Bregenz Opera and Prague State Opera. It is sung in English with English SURTITLES™ and runs for eight performances onOctober 16, 19, 22, 25, 28, 31, and November 3, 6, 2010.

A new COC production of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s mystical fairytale The Magic Fluteopens the winter season. Director Diane Paulus, Tony Award®-nominated director of Broadway’s HAIR, and Artistic Director of the American Repertory Theater, makes her COC debut. The Magic Flute weaves a timeless story of Prince Tamino, and his friend Papageno’s magical quest to rescue a beautiful princess, Pamina, from the sorcerer Sarastro. This new production is designed by Myung Hee Cho and will appeal to all ages. Singing the lead roles of Tamino and Pamina are COC favourites tenor Michael Schade (2009’s Rusalka), and celebrated Armenian-Canadian sopranoIsabel Bayrakdarian (2008’s Pelléas et Mélisande). They share their roles with young Canadian singers, tenor Frédéric Antoun and COC Ensemble Studio member soprano Simone Osborne. Baritone Rodion Pogossov (2007’s The Barber of Seville) returns to the COC to sing the role of Papageno, and recent Ensemble Studio graduate soprano

Lisa DiMaria is his sweetheart, Papagena. Canadian soprano Aline Kutan makes her mainstage debut in her signature role as The Queen of the Night. Russian bassMikhail Petrenko is Sarastro, and former Ensemble bass-baritone Robert Gleadow(2009’s La Bohème and A Midsummer Night’s Dream) sings the Speaker of the Temple. Leading the COC Orchestra and Chorus in some of Mozart’s most sublimely beautiful and infectious melodies is COC Music Director Johannes Debus. Last performed on the COC mainstage in 1993,

The Magic Flute runs for 12 performances on January 29, February 1, 3, 6, 8, 10, 12, 16, 18, 20, 23, 25, 2011 and is sung in German with English SURTITLES™.

Experience the exciting young singers of the Canadian Opera Company’s Ensemble Studio, as they perform Mozart’s The Magic Flute on Thursday, February 17, 2011 at 7:30 p.m. This special performance stars the Ensemble members with the full COC Orchestra and Chorus under the direction of COC Music Director Johannes Debus. For casting, please visit the COC website at Tickets are accessible priced at $20 or $50 per person.

Continuing the winter season is a COC premiere of John Adams’ opera, Nixon in China. Considered one of the major operas of the 20th century, Nixon in China recounts President Richard Nixon’s famous, five-day 1972 trip to China. Hailed by critics in his “sensational portrayal of Richard Nixon” (Houston Chronicle) is leading American baritone Robert Orth (1990’s The Barber of Seville). Canadian soprano Tracy Dahl(1995’s Ariadne auf Naxos) makes her return to the COC as Madame Mao. American bass-baritone Thomas Hammons makes his COC debut portraying Nixon’s diplomatic advisor Henry Kissinger, a role he premiered in Houston in 1987, and subsequently performed in Amsterdam, Paris, Frankfurt and Los Angeles. Singing Chairman Mao is British tenor Adrian Thompson. Making his COC debut leading the COC Orchestra and Chorus is young Spanish conductor Pablo Heras-Casado, who was unanimously voted winner of the 2007 Lucerne Festival Conductors’ Competition by a jury headed by Pierre Boulez and Peter Eötvös. Returning to the COC to direct this production he originally staged at Opera Theatre of St. Louis is American James Robinson (Elektra,Turandot, Norma, Lucia di Lammermoor and Il viaggio a Reims). The COC premiere of Nixon in China runs for eight performances on February 5, 9, 11, 13, 19, 22, 24,and 26, 2011 and is sung in English with English SURTITLES™.

Opening the COC’s spring season and performed for the first time since 1996, is Gioacchino Rossini’s delightful opera buffa La Cenerentola, based on the beloved fairytaleCinderella. This colourful and imaginative production from Houston Grand Opera (a joint venture with Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu, Welsh National Opera and Grand Théâtre de Genève) features a spectacular cast of Rossini specialists. Returning to the COC to sing Angelina (Cenerentola) is American mezzo-soprano

Elizabeth DeShong who made her company debut as Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (“stunningly rich and powerful voice” Toronto Star). American Lawrence Brownlee, known as one of the most prominent bel canto tenors on the international stage, performs the role of Don Ramiro. Mr. Brownlee, who sang this role in Houston, makes his COC debut as the Prince. Dandini, Ramiro’s valet, is sung by COC favourite, baritone Brett Polegato (2009’s Madama Butterfly and 2008’s Don Giovanni). American bass-baritone Kyle Ketelsen (2001’s The Girl of the Golden West) returns to sings Alidoro. Returning to the COC as Don Magnifico, Cenerentola’s father, is Italian bass Donato DiStefano (2007’s The Marriage of Figaro and Le Comte Ory). Making his COC debut leading the COC Orchestra and Chorus is Italian conductor Leonardo Vordoni, who recently made his debut with the prestigious Wexford Opera Festival and the internationally-renowned Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro in 2008. This vibrant and animated production is ideal for all ages and is directed and designed by the creative Spanish theatre troupe Els Comediants led by director Joan Font. La Cenerentola runs for nine performances on April 23, 28, May 1, 7, 10, 13, 19, 22, and 25, 2011 and is sung in Italian with English SURTITLES™.

Continuing the spring season is Richard Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos. Last performed by the COC in 1995, this opera-within-an-opera’s madcap backstage melodrama is just a precursor to onstage expressions of love, loss and spiritual transformation. Sir Andrew Davis, Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Music Director and Principal Conductor, makes his much-anticipated company debut leading the COC Orchestra. Leading the stellar cast are Canadian stars, soprano Adrianne Pieczonkaand tenor Richard Margison. Ms Pieczonka and Mr. Margison last appeared together in the COC’s 2009 production of Fidelio. Canadian soprano

Jane Archibald sings Zerbinetta, the charming comedienne of the faux opera, and recently sang this role to rave reviews with the Berlin Deutsche Oper. Renowned British mezzo-soprano Alice Coote sings the Composer. Both Ms Archibald and Ms Coote make their highly anticipated COC debuts in this production. Returning to the COC is multiple award-winning Australian director Neil Armfield (2001’s Billy Buddand 2009’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream). Ariadne auf Naxos is a Welsh National Opera production, and runs for eight performances on April 30, May 3, 12, 15, 18, 21, 27, and 29, 2011 and is sung in German with English SURTITLES™.

Closing the 2010/11 season is the COC premiere of Christoph Willibald Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice. Canadian director Robert Carsen (world premiere of 1992’s Mario and the Magician and Katya Kabanova) makes his highly anticipated return to the COC with his acclaimed Lyric Opera of Chicago production of Gluck’s masterpiece. American countertenor Lawrence Zazzo and Isabel Bayrakdarian star in the title roles. Mr. Zazzo recently sang Oberon to rave reviews in the COC’s 2009 production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and currently can be seen as Ottone in L’incoronazione di Poppea with Theater an der Wien in Vienna. Ms Bayrakdarian is currently performing the role of Ilia in Opéra national de Paris’s production of Idomeneo (a role she will perform with the COC this spring) and also performs earlier in the COC’s 2010/11 season in The Magic Flute. Leading the COC Orchestra and Chorus is renowned British conductor Harry Bicket, who conducts the COC’s new production of Mozart’sIdomeneo this season. Orfeo ed Euridice runs for eight performances on

May 8, 11, 14, 17, 20, 24, 26, and 28, 2011 and is sung in Italian with English SURTITLES™.

Subscriptions to the seven mainstage operas for the COC’s 2010/11 season range from $287 to$1249, with Grand Ring (box level) seat subscriptions available at $1,694 and $2,079, and may be purchased online at, by calling 416-363-8231, or in person at the Four Seasons Centre Box Office, 145 Queen St. W., Toronto. Subscriptions are available to renewing COC subscribers on January 20, 2010 and to the general public on April 5, 2010.

Single tickets are available to the public as of August 16, 2010 for the fall run, December 13, 2010 for the winter run and March 7, 2011 for the spring run. Single ticket prices for all performances range from $62 to $190, with Grand Ring (box level) seat tickets available at$229 and $281 plus applicable taxes.

Special young people’s tickets for all performances throughout the season are priced from $31to $95 plus applicable taxes. These ticket prices apply to those who are 15 years of age or under, accompanied by, and sitting next to an adult. Young adults between the ages of 16 to 29 may purchase specially-priced $20 tickets through the COC’s Opera for a New Age program approximately one week prior to each of the fall, winter and spring seasons. Opera for a New Age is presented by TD Bank Financial Group. A total of 150 seats, each priced at $20, will be reserved for every COC performance and will be available for purchase through Opera for a New Age to student groups and subject to availability on the day of a performance.

New in the 2010/11 season are Standing Room Only tickets available on the day of all performances. Tickets are $12 and go on sale 11 a.m. the day of the performance. For more information please see the separate press release.

All repertoire, dates, pricing, productions, and casting are subject to change. For more complete casting, please see the Show Pages.

The Canadian Opera Company will webcast the announcement of its 2010/11 season live on January 20, 2010 at 10 a.m. from the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre in theFour Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. The webcast will be available for streaming after the press conference.

For more information on the Canadian Opera Company’s 2010/11 season, please visit

Nixon in China Production Co-sponsors: CIBC and CIBC Mellon

The Magic Flute has been generously underwritten by The Catherine and Maxwell Meighen Foundation.

The Magic Flute Production Sponsor: RBC

This production of Orfeo ed Euridice is owned by the Lyric Opera of Chicago and was made possible by generous gifts from An Anonymous Donor, The Elizabeth Morse Genius Charitable Trust/The Elizabeth Morse Charitable Trust, Stephen A. Kaplan and Alyce K. Sigler, Sidley Austin LLP, and Howard A. Stotler with additional funding by AT&T.

Presenting Sponsor of SURTITLES™: Sun Life Financial

Official Automotive Sponsor of the COC at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts: Jaguar Land Rover Canada

Broadcast Partner: CBC Radio 2

Official Media Sponsors: CTV and The Globe and Mail

Digital Marketing Sponsor: Delvinia

The COC Ensemble Studio is Canada’s premier training program for young opera professionals and provides advanced instruction, hands-on experience, and career development opportunities. The Ensemble Studio is supported by the Government of Canada through the Department of Canadian Heritage, RBC, and other generous donors.

About the Canadian Opera Company

Based in Toronto, the Canadian Opera Company is the largest producer of opera in Canada and fifth largest in North America, and celebrates its 60th anniversary in 2009/10. Under its new leadership of General Director Alexander Neef and Music Director Johannes Debus, the COC continues its international reputation for artistic excellence and creative innovation. The COC currently enjoys a remarkable 99% attendance rate and one of the highest subscription rates in North America. The COC performs in the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, designed by Diamond and Schmitt Architects Inc. From its inauguration in 2006, the Four Seasons Centre has been internationally hailed as one of the finest opera houses in the world. The Four Seasons Centre is also the performance venue for The National Ballet of Canada.

Canadian Opera Company Website

The Canadian Opera Company’s award-winning website,, contains information on all productions and programs and includes video interviews with members of the creative team, as well as many other fun, informative and interactive features.


Monday, January 18, 2010

This Week in Toronto (Jan. 18 - 24)

Photo: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra's Mozart@254 celebration continues this week. On Jan. 20 and 21, at 8 pm in Roy Thomson Hall, TSO presents a program featuring several women artists in the music of Mozart - conductor Jane Glover, pianist Imogen Cooper, violinist Anne Akiko Meyers, and violist Teng Li. The three pieces on the program are Symphony No. 32 in G major, Piano Concert No. 25 in C Major, and Sinfonia concertante for Vilin and Viola K. 320d. During intermission, the performers will be interviewed in the lobby about their thoughts on playing Mozart. On Jan. 23 (7 pm) and 24 (3 pm), the TSO presents Beyond the Score: Mozart Piano Concerto No. 27. Billed as a "light classics" event, this concert is designed for "newcomers" to Mozart and classical music in general. Actor Paul Gross and conductor Peter Oundjian join forces to offer a "cultural and historical exploration of the Mozart Piano Concerto No. 27", followed by a performance by pianist/leader Ignat Solzhenitsyn.

On January 22 8 pm at the Glenn Gould Studio, Sinfonia Toronto presents The Romantic Century, a celebration of Chopin's 200th anniversary. Pianist Yuval Fichman plays Chopin Piano Concerto No. 2. Also on the program is Somers' North Country, and Ravel's Sinfonia in F Major.

On January 20 at 10 am at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, the Canadian Opera Company will be announcing its 2010-11 season. I will be attending the press conference, and will have more to report afterwards. Incidentally, the press conference will be taped for streaming in the COC website: afterwards.

Ever wonder why your opinions are so similar - or so different! - from your local newspaper critic? Well, you'll have a chance to hear from the horse's mouth! Toronto Star arts critic John Terauds will be interviewed at the Toronto Wagner Society on Monday Jan. 18, at 8 pm, in the Arts and Letters Club on 14 Elm Street in downtown Toronto. This event is open to members only, but you can join on the spot! I have been a member for the last twenty seven years, and this is a great organization for anyone interested in the music of Wagner. So if you are a budding or seasoned Wagnerite, do come! You can find out more information at their website

For art song enthusiasts, there are two noteworthy concerts on Sunday, Jan. 24. Unfortunately, these two concerts overlap, so you will have to make a choice! The Aldeburgh Connection , the brainchild of retired professor of music Stephen Ralls and his partner Bruce Ubukata, is one of the most respected vocal recital series in the Toronto area. Their theme-based recital programs are always thoughtful and interesting. We are fortunate that Aldeburgh Connection is still going strong even though Ralls has now retired from the University of Toronto Faculty of Music. On Sunday at 2:30 pm in U of T's intimate Walter Hall is their annual Schubertiad, this year focusing on Schubert's setting of text by Sir Walter Scott. Soloists are mezzo Anita Krause, tenor Christopher Enns, and baritone James Levesque. A second worthwhile concert is Off Centre Music Salon's German Spanish Salon, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the death of Pauline Viardot and the 200th anniversary of Robert Schumann's birth. In addition to songs by Schumann and Viardot, works by Brahms, Mendelssohn and Chopin will also be featured. Soloists are soprano Shannon Mercer, mezzo Wallis Giunta, violinist Marie Berard joining hosts Boris and Inna Zarankin at the keyboard. The concert takes place on Sunday 2 pm at the Glenn Gould Studio.

Finally, for anyone who missed the terrific Met in HD Tales of Hoffmann on December 19, the encore performance is on Jan. 23, in the participating Cineplex theatres in Toronto and across Canada. For more information, go to

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