LSM Newswire

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Canadian Opera Company Announces its 2010/11 Season Featuring New Productions and COC Premieres

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 COCs 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 COCs first Gluck opera, Orfeo ed Euridice; and the long-awaited returns of Death in Venice, La Cenerentola and 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 companys 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, COCs General Director. 

The Canadian Opera Companys 61st season opens with a new COC production of Giuseppe Verdis operatic masterpiece Aida, last produced by the COC in 1986.  Created by the same team responsible for the COCs 2008 award-winning production of War and Peace, Aida is conducted by COC Music Director Johannes Debus and directed by Tim AlberyAida is the story of an Ethiopian princess enslaved in Egypt whose love affair with her enemys military commander, Radames, seals their fate.  American dramatic soprano Sondra 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 upcoming Otello) 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 collaborators Hildegard Bechtler (set) and Thomas C. Hase (lighting), and costumes are designed by Jon MorrellAida 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 SURTITLESѢ. 

The fall season continues with Benjamin Brittens Death in Venice, not performed by the COC since 1984.  Brittens final opera, based on Thomas Manns 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 (1993s Hnsel und Gretel), recognized as one of todays 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 Brooks 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 (2005s 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 TowersDeath in Venice is a co-production between the Aldeburgh Festival, Opra national de Lyon, Bregenz Opera and Prague State Opera.  It is sung in English with English SURTITLESѢ and runs for eight performances on October 16, 19, 22, 25, 28, 31, and November 3, 6, 2010

A new COC production of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozarts mystical fairytale The Magic Flute opens the winter season.  Director Diane Paulus, Tony Award-nominated director of Broadways 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 Papagenos 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 (2009s Rusalka), and celebrated Armenian-Canadian soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian (2008s Pellas et Mlisande).  They share their roles with young Canadian singers, tenor Frdric Antoun and COC Ensemble Studio member soprano Simone Osborne.  Baritone Rodion Pogossov (2007s 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 bass Mikhail Petrenko is Sarastro, and former Ensemble bass-baritone Robert Gleadow (2009s La Bohme and A Midsummer Nights Dream) sings the Speaker of the Temple.  Leading the COC Orchestra and Chorus in some of Mozarts most sublimely beautiful and infectious melodies is COC Music Director Johannes DebusLast 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 SURTITLESѢ.

Experience the exciting young singers of the Canadian Opera Companys Ensemble Studio, as they perform Mozarts 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 DebusFor 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 Nixons 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 (1990s The Barber of Seville).  Canadian soprano Tracy Dahl (1995s Ariadne auf Naxos) makes her return to the COC as Madame Mao.  American bass-baritone Thomas Hammons makes his COC debut portraying Nixons 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 Etvs.  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 SURTITLESѢ.

Opening the COCs spring season and performed for the first time since 1996, is Gioacchino Rossinis delightful opera buffa La Cenerentola, based on the beloved fairytale Cinderella.  This colourful and imaginative production from Houston Grand Opera (a joint venture with Barcelonas Gran Teatre del Liceu, Welsh National Opera and Grand Thtre de Genve) 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 Nights 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, Ramiros valet, is sung by COC favourite, baritone Brett Polegato (2009s Madama Butterfly and 2008s Don Giovanni).  American bass-baritone Kyle Ketelsen (2001s The Girl of the Golden West) returns to sings Alidoro.  Returning to the COC as Don Magnifico, Cenerentolas father, is Italian bass Donato DiStefano (2007s 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 SURTITLESѢ.

Continuing the spring season is Richard Strausss Ariadne auf Naxos. Last performed by the COC in 1995, this opera-within-an-operas madcap backstage melodrama is just a precursor to onstage expressions of love, loss and spiritual transformation.  Sir Andrew Davis, Lyric Opera of Chicagos Music Director and Principal Conductor, makes his much-anticipated company debut leading the COC Orchestra.  Leading the stellar cast are Canadian stars, soprano Adrianne Pieczonka and tenor Richard Margison.  Ms Pieczonka and Mr. Margison last appeared together in the COCs 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 (2001s Billy Budd and 2009s A Midsummer Nights 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 SURTITLESѢ.

Closing the 2010/11 season is the COC premiere of Christoph Willibald Glucks Orfeo ed EuridiceCanadian director Robert Carsen (world premiere of 1992s Mario and the Magician and Katya Kabanova) makes his highly anticipated return to the COC with his acclaimed Lyric Opera of Chicago production of Glucks masterpieceAmerican countertenor Lawrence Zazzo and Isabel Bayrakdarian star in the title roles.  Mr. Zazzo recently sang Oberon to rave reviews in the COCs 2009 production of A Midsummer Nights Dream, and currently can be seen as Ottone in Lincoronazione di Poppea with Theater an der Wien in Vienna.  Ms Bayrakdarian is currently performing the role of Ilia in Opra national de Pariss production of Idomeneo (a role she will perform with the COC this spring) and also performs earlier in the COCs 2010/11 season in The Magic FluteLeading the COC Orchestra and Chorus is renowned British conductor Harry Bicket, who conducts the COCs new production of Mozarts Idomeneo 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 SURTITLESѢ.

Subscriptions to the seven mainstage operas for the COCs 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 peoples tickets for all performances throughout the season are priced from $31 to $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 COCs 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 on January 20, 2010 at 10 a.m. from the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre in the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.  The webcast will be available for streaming after the press conference.

For more information on the Canadian Opera Companys 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 SURTITLESѢ: 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 Canadas 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 Companys 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.



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