LSM Newswire

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Alexander Neef Named Canadian Opera Company's New General Director

For immediate release: June 25, 2008



Toronto, ON Today, David C. Ferguson, President of the Canadian Opera Company (COC), proudly announced that the search for a new General Director is over. At a press conference held on stage at the company's new opera house, the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, Mr. Ferguson announced that Alexander Neef, current Director of Casting at the Opra national de Paris (ONP), has been appointed by the Board of the COC. Mr. Neef takes the helm of Canada's largest opera company on October 1, 2008.

Mr. Neef was the unanimous choice of the COC's Search Committee and was approved by the COC's Board of Directors on June 25, 2008.

Alexander Neef has an extensive background as an artistic administrator and casting director. He has worked with the Salzburg Festival, the RuhrTriennale in his native Germany, and is currently Director of Casting for Opra national de Paris. In addition, he has spent the last year preparing Grard Mortier's future seasons at New York City Opera.

David Ferguson, who was also the head of the Search Committee, said, "We are very fortunate to have been able to lure Alexander Neef from the Paris Opera. He has the most astounding amount of experience in his career so far, and we are absolutely certain he will make a huge, positive impact of the COC. His understanding of the history of opera coupled with a very current theatrical acumen belies his age, and his reputation among artists, managers and agents is unassailable. He is truly the perfect person for a company of this size and ambition at this point in its history."

"I am very proud to have been selected by this company and honoured by the opportunity that has been given to me," said Mr. Neef at the press conference. "The Canadian Opera Company is one of great worth and great potential for the future, and I know that bringing it to a new international standard is a very exciting and realistic goal. You should be very proud of the beautiful opera house you have built. A great house deserves a great company, and I look forward to making the most of the building and meeting the artistic standard that it sets for the company."

He continued, "One of the attractive qualities of this company is that it sets its sights very high, and, it's worthy of working with the finest people in the industry. Basically, I want to make the COC one of the best companies in the world, and, in doing so, make it even more Canadian than ever before.

"I want to thank the Search Committee for their vision for choosing me, and the members of the board for their faith in me. I also thank the company for being so generous when they have only just met me I already feel embraced by it. My wife and I consider this move a family project and we both look forward to raising our daughter in a city and country with such artistic potential and excitement."

In his capacities as artistic administrator and/or casting director for these major companies and festivals, Mr. Neef has been instrumental in the realization of their artistic vision and international reputation. He has worked in close collaboration with many of the world's most renowned artists, including: Pina Bausch, Ji Blohlvek, Luc Bondy, Christine Brewer, Robert Carsen, Sylvain Cambreling, Patrice Chreau, Natalie Dessay, Clifton Forbis, Ferruccio Furlanetto, Valery Gergiev, Angela Gheorghiu, Matthias Goerne, Stephen Gould, Susan Graham, Michael Haneke, Ben Heppner, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Jonas Kaufmann, Simon Keenlyside, Christoph Marthaler, Waltraud Meier, James Morris, Kent Nagano, Anna Netrebko, Seiji Ozawa, Deborah Polaski, Samuel Ramey, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Peter Sellars, Neil Shicoff, Jos Van Dam, Ramn Vargas, Rolando Villazn, Deborah Warner, and Robert Wilson. (Complete Biography, At a Glance info and Praises attached.)

Alexander Neef begins his post on October 1, 2008. He and his wife, Elose Bellemont-Neef and their infant daughter, Marnie, will take up residence in Toronto at the end of September.

The Search Committee was formed in September 2007 following the unexpected death of former COC General Director Richard Bradshaw, and it engaged the services of Genovese, Vanderhoof and Associates in November 2007. A worldwide search was undertaken and Mr. Neef was appointed by unanimous board resolution on June 25, 2008.

Based in Toronto, the Canadian Opera Company is the largest producer of opera in Canada and one of the largest in North America, and has an international reputation for artistic excellence and creative innovation. The COC currently enjoys a remarkable 99% attendance rate for its mainstage season. The company's new home, the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, was designed by Diamond and Schmitt Architects Inc. and is Canada's first purpose-built opera house. The contemporary expression of a traditional five-tiered, European horseshoe-shaped auditorium was specifically designed for opera with the highest level of acoustics and provides unparalleled intimacy between the audience and the stage. Acclaimed as one of the best opera houses in the world, the Four Seasons Centre is also the performance venue for The National Ballet of Canada. The company's 2007/08 season was performed in tribute to Richard Bradshaw.

The Canadian Opera Company website, at, contains further information including full biographical details, photographs, a video interview, a blog, and an archival video of the press conference.

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