LSM Newswire

Friday, November 13, 2009

Canadian Opera Company Overcomes 2008-09 Operating Deficit by Accessing cash Reserves

Toronto, Canada Today at the Canadian Opera Company's (COC) Annual General Meeting, COC Board President Paul Spafford announced that the COC is riding on a wave of success: the last three seasons have played to capacity houses; its subscription rate is among the highest in North America; and, in 2009/10, only the Metropolitan Opera and Lyric Opera of Chicago will perform more than the COC. Critical and popular response to the 2008/09 season was outstanding and the season played to 99.7% capacity and reached a new single season revenue record of $12,634,000, a 2.7% increase over the previous season.

In spite of these successes, the COC's fundraising programs were not immune to the effects of the global economic crisis. After six consecutive years of surpluses, the COC has incurred an operating deficit of $1.6 million for the 2008/09 season, directly attributed to a shortfall in the company's annual fundraising programs. Although the COC received contributions from over 5,000 patrons in 2008/09, the company was $1.1 million behind in its fundraising goals budgeted for the year. In addition, the company did not receive $500,000 in endowment earnings expected from The Canadian Opera Foundation (COF) due to a shortfall in investment performance.

Fortunately, the COC is able to overcome the deficit and finish the year with a modest $25,000 surplus by accessing an allocation from a special cash fund held by The Canadian Opera Foundation. This cash fund was created from the COC's prior operating surpluses and is specifically earmarked to support artistic goals for future seasons.

"There's no question it has been a challenging year financially, but the good news is that the COC is an extremely successful company by all other measures. We pride ourselves on cost efficiency with no loss to artistic achievement. Fortunately, we've been able to access some reserves this year from past surpluses," said Paul Spafford, President of the COC Board. "The COC's success is the result of hard work, prudent fiscal practices, a passionate commitment to producing the best art possible and thankfully, a loyal audience and many generous donors. We are greatly energized by the support we receive and future opportunities to improve the company's already-high artistic standards."

"It has been an extremely exciting first year for me as General Director. I am very pleased and proud to lead a company that produces opera at a level as high as, or higher than, any other North American company with a much smaller budget than those of our North American peers," said Alexander Neef, General Director. "And, I have been particularly encouraged to see enthusiastic and full houses in the opera house for every performance. I'm glad that we can engage audiences with the breadth and depth of repertoire we produce because it bodes very well for the future of the COC and opera in Canada."

During the 2008/09 season, box office revenues represented 41% of total operating revenues, with fundraising and sponsorship accounting for 33%, government funding accounting for 23%, and the remaining 3% coming from other income sources such as space and production rentals.

Artistically, the 2008/09 season saw 64 performances of seven operas on the mainstage of the
Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, and four performances of the Ensemble Studio production in the Imperial Oil Opera Theatre. The 2008/09 mainstage season included company premieres of Prokofiev's monumental War and Peace, Dvok's dreamy Rusalka and Britten's magical A Midsummer Night's Dream, as well as a new production of Beethoven's Fidelio, a moving and powerful production of Verdi's Simon Boccanegra, a witty take on Mozart's Don Giovanni, and the COC's beloved production of Puccini's La Bohme. Overall, the subscription season was performed to a record level of 99.7% of capacity.

In January 2009, General Director Alexander Neef appointed conductor Johannes Debus as the COC's new Music Director. Mr. Debus had conducted the company's enormously successful production of War and Peace in the fall of 2008. Maestro Debus begins his tenure at the COC in November 2009 as conductor for the company's Diamond Anniversary concert featuring tenor Ben Heppner and the COC Orchestra. He also conducts the company's production of The Flying Dutchman in April 2010.

In 2008/09, the COC's successful Free Concert Series in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre celebrated its third year with 75 free events ranging from classical, jazz, world music, and contemporary dance. The Free Concert Series attracted approximately 18,000 audience members of all backgrounds and ages who experienced the artistic excellence and cultural diversity of the city.

In the 2008/09, the Canadian Opera Company saw an overall decrease of 11.6% in its annual fundraising programs, with the most affected campaigns being Corporate Performance Sponsorship and Individual Major Gift fundraising. Individual giving campaigns accounted for 67% of overall fundraising in 2008/09, and approximately $9 million was received from over 5,000 subscribers and donors, corporations and foundations. Commitments to mainstage productions and artist sponsorships, in addition to annual support through the President's Council, Golden Circle and Friends of the COC patron programs including two lead gifts from Anonymous donors for the Year-End Matching Appeal totaled over $5.5 million.

COC fundraising efforts through special projects and events raised over $325,000 from generous individual donors and supporters.

Notwithstanding the overall decline, corporate sponsorship in 2008/09 continued to receive support from several loyal sponsors. The company maintained significant relationships with Jaguar Land Rover Canada, Sun Life Financial, Andrew Peller Limited, Delvinia, CTVglobemedia, Hilton Toronto, and St. Joseph Print. Production sponsors for the season were CIBC and CIBC Mellon, National Bank Financial Group, and RBC Financial Group. Other returning sponsors were Xstrata Nickel, TD Bank Financial Group, BMO Financial Group, and Scotiabank Group.

Recently, the 2009/10 season at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts opened with outstanding reviews and sold out houses for Madama Butterfly (which has, to date, sold 30,000 tickets for 15 performances) and the world premiere of The Nightingale and Other Short Fables by Robert Lepage, set to the music of Stravinsky. Demand for The Nightingale and Other Short Fables was so high that the COC added a performance to its original run of eight, and the run has almost sold out.

In January, the COC presents a revival of its production of Bizet's Carmen, and a new production of Verdi's Otello. The spring run opens with Wagner's The Flying Dutchman, followed by Donizetti's bel canto classic and the COC premiere of Maria Stuarda, and Mozart's exquisite Idomeneo. The Ensemble Studio performance of Idomeneo on the mainstage takes place on May 19, 2010.

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 the 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 its new opera house, 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. Į

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Canadian Opera Company produces broadcasts of 2009/10 season for the first time in almost 20 years

Toronto, Ontario The Canadian Opera Company is pleased to announce that for the first time in almost 20 years, the COCs mainstage season will be broadcast across Canada. The COC has reached an agreement with the artists of the company and the various unions and associations to record all seven operas in its 2009/10 season, and the COC will produce all seven broadcasts.

In conjunction with its Broadcast Partner, CBC Radio 2, each opera in the COCs 2009/10 season will be aired twice nationally on CBC Radio 2 and Radio-Canadas Espace Musique, and the broadcasts of COC recordings also will be available for internet streaming on both the Canadian Opera Company website, coc.ca, and on CBC Concerts on Demand, cbc.ca/radio2, for a period of 12 months after the initial streaming date.

This new agreement greatly increases the COCs presence on Canadian airwaves and enables the companys entire season to be heard by Canadians from coast to coast.

As the producer of these recordings the COC will seek other means of extending the reach of its artistic output into new media platforms such as CDs, DVDs and cinecasts, as well as select National Public Radio stations in the United States.

Extending the COCs reach to areas of the country not presently served by opera is one of my main goals at the Canadian Opera Company. The COC has been so successful in getting people into the opera house, that now its time for us to go to those who cant come to us, says Alexander Neef, General Director. I couldnt be more pleased that CBC Radio 2 has agreed to be our broadcast partner, and I am equally grateful to the artists who agreed to join in this venture with us. Together we can show the world what weve known all along Canadian opera is strong and vital and Canadian artists are among the best in the world.

The COCs Madama Butterfly will air on CBC Radio 2s Saturday Afternoon at the Opera on November 28, 2009; The Nightingale and Other Short Fables will air on December 5, 2009. Concerts on Demand and future broadcast dates are yet to be confirmed.

The Canadian Opera Company would like to thank the artists of the company and their representatives: the American Federation of Musicians, Canada; Canadian Actors Equity Association; Association of Canadian Television and Radio Artists; and, the Toronto Musicians Association.

The Canadian Opera Company would also like to thank Mark Steinmetz, Director, CBC Radio Music, and Neil Crory, Senior Music Producer, CBC Radio, for their support and co-operation in creating this new arrangement to present the Canadian Opera Company to a wider audience.

Broadcast Sponsor: CBC Radio 2

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.

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Thursday, November 5, 2009

COC and Ben Heppner offer special recital for all COC 60th Anniversary Concert ticket holders


For immediate release: November 5, 2009


COC AND BEN HEPPNER OFFER SPECIAL RECITAL FOR ALL COC 60th ANNIVERSARY CONCERT TICKET HOLDERS

Toronto, Ontario The Canadian Opera Company (COC) and celebrated Canadian tenor Ben Heppner are pleased to announce that Mr. Heppner will perform a special solo recital for all ticket holders of the COCs Diamond Anniversary concert.  Mr. Heppner, who was to have been featured at the concert, was forced to withdraw late last week due to illness.  The recital with piano, to take place on the stage of the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts at a date to be announced soon, will be free for all ticket purchasers of the Saturday, November 7, Diamond Anniversary concert.  Ticket holders will be contacted with full details once the date is announced.

We know Bens appearance was highly anticipated by many people, and we understand they are as disappointed by his cancellation as we are.  We asked him if he could offer our audience a special recital with piano on the Four Seasons Centre stage.  He immediately agreed, and we are eager to have him back with us soon, says Alexander Neef, General Director.  I am very pleased that we will be providing our 60th anniversary concert-goers with a program of the highest calibre, as well as a solo recital by Ben later this season.  All this makes our 60th anniversary even more exciting!

The COCs 60th Anniversary Concert takes place as planned on Saturday, November 7, 2009 at 7 p.m. at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, with a pre-concert reception beginning at 6 p.m.  Last week, after Mr. Heppner was forced to withdraw from performing at the concert, the COC quickly signed opera stars Ramn Vargas, John Treleaven, and Canadas own Russell Braun to replace the ailing singer.  The concert also features the COC Orchestra, led by Johannes Debus, making his debut as COC Music Director.

Regulars at all the great opera houses of the world, Ramn Vargas, Russell Braun and John Treleaven perform extensively with the Metropolitan Opera, La Scala, Vienna Staatsoper, Paris Opera, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Munich Staatsoper, and San Francisco Opera, among many others.  The evenings concert program has retained most of its original repertoire with Mr. Vargas singing from the romantic French repertoire,
Mr. Treleaven singing the Wagner repertoire and Mr. Braun singing both.

The COCs 60th Anniversary Celebration on Saturday, November 7, 2009, begins with a pre-concert reception at 6 p.m. in the Isadore and Rosalie Sharp City Room at the Four Seasons Centre, followed by the concert which begins at 7 p.m.  All tickets include a complimentary glass of Trius Brut sparkling wine or Peller Estates Icewine.  

Supporting Sponsors of the COCs Diamond Anniversary Concert: BMO Financial Group, Diamond and Schmitt Architects

Wine Sponsor: Andrew Peller Limited

Diamond Raffle Sponsor: De Beers Canada

The COC is grateful to Colleen Sexsmith for offering her generous financial support to help make the COCs Diamond Anniversary concert possible, in part through underwriting Ramn Vargass and John Treleavans respective performances.

Russell Brauns appearance is generously underwritten by Earlaine Collins.







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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Illness forces Ben Heppner to Withdraw from COC 60th Anniversary Concert

  

    
For immediate release: October 31, 2009

ILLNESS FORCES BEN HEPPNER TO WITHDRAW FROM COC 60TH ANNIVERSARY CONCERT

OPERA STARS RAMN VARGAS AND RUSSELL BRAUN TO PERFORM WITH NEW COC MUSIC DIRECTOR, JOHANNES DEBUS, AND COC ORCHESTRA

Toronto, Ontario The Canadian Opera Company (COC) regretfully announces that renowned tenor Ben Heppner is unable to perform at the company's 60th anniversary concert on November 7, 2009 at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.  Mr. Heppner has not sufficiently recovered from a viral infection caught in October while singing Tristan in Tristan und Isolde at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

"I caught an infection in London and I had hoped to have fully recovered by this time," says Mr. Heppner.  "Unfortunately, a visit with my doctor and my coach confirmed that I will not be able to give the first-class performance Toronto audiences deserve."

The COC's anniversary concert will take place as planned on Saturday, November 7, 2009 featuring conductor Johannes Debus making his debut as the COC's new Music Director, and the celebrated COC Orchestra.  The company is very pleased to announce that it has secured world renowned artists, tenor Ramn Vargas and baritone
Russell Braun to sing at the concert.  Additional artists will be confirmed early next week.

"We are terribly sad that Ben is unable to perform with us on Saturday.  His presence means a lot to the Canadian Opera Company and we're sorry that he can't be here to celebrate with us," says Alexander Neef, General Director of the COC.  "Fortunately, another one of the world's greatest tenors, Ramn Vargas, was available on short notice and is very pleased to make his debut with us.  And, of course, it is always a pleasure to welcome our good friend Russell Braun back to Toronto.  I am very happy that we have secured some great vocal talent to celebrate the COC's 60th anniversary and Johannes Debus's first appearance as new Music Director.  We know that this new program, along with the wonderful COC Orchestra, will make for a spectacular concert."

Regulars at all the great opera houses of the world, Ramn Vargas and Russell Braun perform extensively with the Metropolitan Opera, La Scala, Vienna State Opera, Paris Opera, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Munich State Opera, and San Francisco, among many others.

Ramn Vargas is currently performing as Faust in the Metropolitan Opera's production of Robert Lepage's production of La Damnation de Faust.  He returns to the Met in 2010 to sing in a new production of Attila, and next spring performs Werther at the Vienna State Opera and Medea in Corinto at the Munich State Opera.  The Metropolitan Opera has graciously agreed to allow Mr. Vargas to appear at the COC anniversary concert.

This season, Russell Braun makes his role debuts as The Traveller in Benjamin Britten's Death in Venice at the Theater an der Wien in Vienna and as Lescaut in the ROH Covent Garden production of Manon, as well as appearing with the Chicago, Cleveland, Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver symphony orchestras.

Portions of the evening's program remain unchanged, and additional arias will be performed. The complete program will be announced early next week.


The 60th anniversary celebration on Saturday, November 7 begins with a pre-concert reception at 6 p.m. in the Isadore and Rosalie Sharp City Room at the Four Seasons Centre, followed by the concert which begins at 7 p.m.  All tickets include a complimentary glass of Trius Brut sparkling wine or Peller Estates Icewine.  

To add even more sparkle to the event, a draw for a spectacular 1.26 carat Canadian diamond, valued at $20,000, will be held at the concert.  The Hearts and Arrows brilliant-cut diamond, courtesy of De Beers Canada, originated from the pristine tundra of the Canadian Arctic and has been environmentally and ethically mined, cut, and polished.  Diamond Raffle tickets are $100 each or three for $250 and will be available for purchase at the Four Seasons Centre, 145 Queen St. W. or by calling 416-306-2309.  

Supporting Sponsors of the COC's Diamond Anniversary Concert: BMO Financial Group, Diamond and Schmitt Architects

Wine Sponsor: Andrew Peller Limited

Diamond Raffle Sponsor: De Beers Canada

Russell Braun's appearance is generously underwritten by Earlaine Collins.

The COC is grateful to Colleen Sexsmith for offering her generous financial support to make the other artists' appearances possible.



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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Canadiam Opera Company


CANADIAN OPERA COMPANY OFFERS EXCITEMENT BEYOND THE MAINSTAGE

Toronto, Ontario During the 2008/09 season, the Canadian Opera Company hosted a variety of activities beyond the mainstage, aimed at opera novices and aficionados alike, attracting Torontonians and tourists to fresh and exciting experiences. Attendees were offered an abundance of diverse programming, from the incredibly popular Free Concert Series in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre, to guided tours of the critically-acclaimed opera house, as well as valuable education and outreach programs and exciting fundraising events. The COC is also proud to unveil new, innovative and interactive features on the COC website, coc.ca.

During the 2008/09 season, nearly 20,000 audience members of all backgrounds and ages enjoyed over 80 free events as part of the Free Concert Series in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre. The Free Concert Series highlighted 45 Canadian composers, 5 world premieres and 600 artists, and featured events ranging from classical, jazz, and renaissance concerts to world music events and contemporary dance performances. "Three seasons in, the lunchtime performance series and its venue are an example to the world of the very best kind of sharing between the arts and its surrounding community." (Toronto Star). The 2009/10 series begins September 24, 2009 with a concert by the new and returning artists from the Canadian Opera Company's Ensemble Studio. The full 2009/10 performance schedule will be available soon at coc.ca.

In 2008/09, COC special projects and fundraising efforts benefitted from the generosity of its remarkable donors and supporters raising over $325,000. Operanation V, the COC's exclusive cocktail reception for young professionals, presented by TD Bank Financial Group, was held at the Four Seasons Centre in October 2008. Over 1,000 guests enjoyed a mixture of classic culture and a bohemian-inspired atmosphere based on Puccini's opera La Bohme, and raised more than $85,000. In April 2009, the Annual Fine Wine Auction was held at Crush Wine Bar and Restaurant. Two hundred and fifty wine lovers helped to raise over $90,000 by bidding on a collection of exquisite and hard-to-find wines from private cellars. On June 1, 2009, 100 golfers teed-off at the 15th annual Opera Golf Classic, presented by BMO Capital Markets and BMO Nesbitt Burns, at the Scarboro Golf and Country Club and raised over $150,000.

The COC is pushing its digital boundaries and adding new ways to connect with its audience through its newly renovated website, coc.ca and social networking opportunities. The COC's website has undergone a substantial transformation to include a new look, interactive features and exclusive content. Developed by digital marketing services firm Delvinia Interactive and supported by the Department of Canadian Heritage, coc.ca gives visitors the inside scoop on all things COC, including a new blog by General Director Alexander Neef. Users can test their opera knowledge with fun quizzes and polls, glossary of opera terms, journey through the COC production archives with a magical behind-the-scenes look at the making of the COC's Madama Butterfly, or become a COC history buff by exploring the historical timeline as it highlights company milestones with commemorative photos, posters, interviews and audio and video excerpts (see attached news release for more information). For up-to-the-minute news, web users can follow the COC on Twitter, join the COC's Facebook network or sign-up for eOpera, the COC's monthly e-newsletter, and receive company news right to their inbox. To sign up for eOpera or to check out the COC's latest tweets, visit coc.ca.

For over 20 years the COC's Ensemble Studio School Tour has delighted school children across Ontario. This year, the Xstrata Ensemble Studio School Tour introduced opera to 16,000 children from kindergarten to Grade 6 with performances of Dean Burry's The Brothers Grimm and Rossini's The Barber of Seville. The Xstrata Ensemble Studio School Tour returns to Ontario schools in November 2009 with Rossini's The Barber of Seville and a compilation of Rossini's and Massenet's Cinderella. In the GTA, the COC's popular After School Opera Program provided children ages seven to 12 with creative and fun after-school activities with an emphasis on the core elements that make up opera. The Toronto Opera Program celebrated its second year introducing "at risk" youth to opera while working alongside members of the Toronto Police Service and COC professional artist-educators to write and create an operatic performance. In July 2009, the COC's week-long Summer Opera Camp returns to the Joey and Toby Tanenbaum Opera Centre. Youth ages seven to 13 will enjoy daily music and drama sessions, as well as design, movement and makeup workshops.

Opera 101, a free series of events geared toward opera novices and young adults celebrated its ninth year in 2008/09. The popular series, hosted by CBC Radio's Brent Bambury, discussed 2008/09 COC operas and featured special guests and live musical entertainment. Special guests included director Tim Albery (War and Peace), sopranos Adrianne Pieczonka and Virginia Hatfield (Fidelio), as well as conductor Ann Manson (A Midsummer Night's Dream). Opera 101 returns October 2009 and details will be available soon at coc.ca. Over 500 opera aficionados attended the COC's informative

Opera Exchange series, the in-depth symposia on featured COC operas is led by an array of academic specialists and members of the COC's creative teams. The Opera Exchange is presented in partnership with the Jackman Humanities Institute, the Munk Centre for International Studies and the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto.

Appetite for Opera, a combination of cultural and culinary arts in two separate, innovative gourmet evenings was designed to delight and intrigue opera novices and seasoned fans. In collaboration with the Hilton Toronto's Tundra restaurant and Hilton Executive Chef Kreg Graham, guests explored specially prepared menus inspired by Dvok's Rusalka and Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream. An additional 200 guests between the ages of 16 to 29 experienced the COC's Bite Series, which featured one COC opera each evening, Don Giovanni, Rusalka, or La Bohme. Young patrons enjoyed a tasty opera-inspired meal while learning about a COC opera followed by a performance at the Four Seasons Centre.

Last season over 3,000 people participated in public and private Guided Tours of Canada's only purpose-built opera house, the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. Trained docents discussed features of the world-class facility including the unique glass system used on the faades, the remarkable engineering used to build the world's longest free-span, glass staircase and the advancements in modern engineering and acoustic design that went into creating R. Fraser Elliott Hall, the Four Seasons Centre's horseshoe-shaped auditorium. Guided tours, open to the general public, continue throughout the summer and cost $7 for adults, $5 for students and seniors, and are free for children 12 and under. A full tour schedule is available online at coc.ca. For more information, call the COC Box Office at 416-363-8231.

From free concerts for all ages, to special events and activities, the COC has exciting programming both on and beyond the mainstage. For more information, please visit coc.ca.

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 Financial Group and other generous donors.

The work carried out by Delvinia Interactive on the COC website was generously supported by the Department of Canadian Heritage.

About the Canadian Opera Company

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. 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.

Canadian Opera Company Website

The Canadian Opera Company's website, coc.ca, contains information on all productions and programs and includes fun and informative interactive features.

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Canadian Opera Company hits high note with new website


The amalgamation of strategy and art is performed through COCs digital experience

(TORONTO) June 24, 2009 One of North Americas leading opera companies, the Canadian Opera Company (COC), recently unveiled the latest evolution of its website coc.ca, demonstrating an advance in how the COC is looking to the web as a digital channel to reach and build relationships with its audiences. Delvinia Interactive, with its insight driven approach, created the digital experience so visitors get exactly what they want and are allowed the ability to connect with opera and the COC in a specialized way. It was also designed to change interest in ticket purchase into advocacy for the arts.

The COC recognized it would benefit from a clear understanding of its customers digital behaviour in order to deliver on the needs of opera lovers both during and between opera seasons.

Our patrons are passionate and loyal, and we wanted to make sure we delivered on their expectation and with every interaction they have with the COC, said Alexander Neef, General Director of the Canadian Opera Company. Were pleased with the notion that visitors of the website can expect the same quality from our digital experience that we demonstrate with our productions in our beautiful opera house.

As part of the transformation, a key feature of the new digital experience was the ability to navigate quickly and easily through the site. With full navigation available at every turn, users can move quickly through the site and easily access the information they need.

But what brings the digital experience to life are the deeper more enhanced features that enable site visitors to become more engaged with the COC, including:

A behind-the-scenes look at the making of the COCs production of Madama Butterfly.

A historical timeline highlighting the companys milestones including commemorative photos, posters, interviews, and audio and video excerpts.

COC podcasts featuring musical excerpts and video highlights of select operas and exclusive artist interviews.

Fun and interactive quizzes, polls, and a glossary of opera terms.

A blog by Neef, who shares his thoughts on COC productions and artists, and encourages visitors to ask questions. Starting this summer, visitors can follow Neefs journey through Europe.

Deployment of an online panel within the COC site to provide ongoing feedback for the organization.

Prior to designing the COCs new website, Delvinia analyzed five years of transactional data from the COC and overlaid this data with its proprietary insight engine and segmentation tool, the Delvinia Digital Mosaic (DDM). The insight engine showed that while only 20 per cent of those interacting with the COC transacted through the website, that opera goers were in fact more digitally inclined than the average Canadians. In fact, while 85 per cent of the COCs audience fit into five of 20 DDM segments, 40 per cent of the base fit into segments called Loaded and Overloaded and City Clickers.

Additionally, Delvinia used online consumer research panel, AskingCanadians.com to further validate the data and trends that would enhance the digital experience, and the relationship with the COC. The model for the experience became about conversion by encouraging their audience to use the enhanced website, the COC could build the relationship and evolve the experience to develop more loyal relationships, converting ticket buyers into subscribers, and subscribers into donors.

With a validated understanding of the COCs audience and grounded insight of their digital behaviours, Delvinia was able to design and build an experience to reflect their needs and desires.

Keeping COC patrons engaged with the opera experience through the digital space required a great deal of insight into the digital behaviours of the opera lover, said Adam Froman, President and CEO of Delvinia. This insight provided the foundation that allowed us to build a site that can be easily navigated, while also providing a deep and rich experience to those craving more of a connection to this exciting art form, whether you are new to the opera or a seasoned opera lover.

To experience the new Canadian Opera Company website, visit www.coc.ca.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

CANADIAN OPERA COMPANY'S 2008/09 SEASON REACHES OVER 99% CAPACITY

The Canadian Opera Company is pleased to announce a third consecutive year with an average attendance of 99.7%, proving that demand for opera tickets remains high. Celebrating its third season in the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, the COC's 2008/09 season included seven mainstage productions: Don Giovanni, War and Peace, Fidelio, Rusalka, Simon Boccanegra, La Bohme, and A Midsummer Night's Dream. The 2008/09 season subscriptions were strong at close to 95,000 tickets sold with gross revenue of almost $10 million. In total, 132,000 patrons attended 64 COC performances, with overall ticket-related revenue grossing almost $13.9 million. Even an expanded run (12 performances) of La Bohme sold over 9,500 single tickets, over and above the heavy subscription base.

For every COC performance, one hundred and fifty $20 tickets are available through the company's Opera for a New Age (OFNA) program, presented by TD Bank Financial Group. In 2008/09, 9,400

$20 tickets were sold through OFNA.

"The COC's 2008/09 season surpassed my expectations as I fully realized the satisfaction of leading a company of such great success and potential," says General Director Alexander Neef. "Even though this difficult economic climate has brought us unexpected challenges, our mainstage season finished over 99% capacity, which must be the highest rate for an opera company in North America. This remarkable achievement would not have been possible without our loyal subscribers and generous donors, and we remain immensely grateful for their support. We wouldn't be here without them."

The COC's 2008/09 season began with Mozart's Don Giovanni, which had "a truly impressive cast of singers" (Toronto Sun), and continued with "the theatrical highpoint of the year," Prokofiev's War and Peace, (Eye Weekly) conducted by Johannes Debus who, shortly afterwards, was appointed the COC's new Music Director. The winter run opened with Beethoven's "beautifully presented" (BlogTO) Fidelio, followed by Dvok's "not to be missed" (Classical 96.3) Rusalka. Running in repertory during the spring run were Verdi's Simon Boccanegra hailed "a five-star 'must see'" (Here and Now, CBC Radio), Puccini's La Bohme, considered "necessary viewing for the [Toronto] opera crowd" (National Post), and Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream, a "delight to both ear and eye" (Hamilton Spectator).

Three of the mainstage productions were generously supported by corporate sponsors: RBC Financial Group for Don Giovanni, CIBC World Markets and CIBC Mellon for La Bohme, and National Bank
Financial for Fidelio.

www.coc.ca

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Go to COC.CA to become a Diva for a Day

The Canadian Opera Companys popular Diva for a Day contest gives one lucky winner the opportunity to be wined, dined and pampered Japanese style with a grand prize package valued at $4,000.

The COCs interactive contest, which closes at midnight on May 25, invites users to take a cyber journey to the new, eye-catching Madama Butterfly Historical Journey. Visitors travel behind-the-scenes through the COC archives and discover the making of this production of Madama Butterfly. Once the journey is complete, contestants must correctly answer five COC-related questions to be randomly selected to win one of 12 diva-worthy prize packs.

One Grand Prize Package includes:

Grand Ring level seats with on-air personality Alexa Petrenko to the opening night performance of Madama Butterfly

An invitation to the Madama Butterfly opening night cast party

Accommodations, dinner and breakfast for two at Hilton Toronto

A complimentary limousine return trip courtesy of Rosedale Livery

Dinner for two at Yuzu Sushi and Sake Bar

A LITYA Kodo body massage treatment at Elmwood Spa

And much moreĶ

One Second Prize Package:

A CD/DVD gift package valued at $500 courtesy of Decca

Ten Third Prize Packages:

A 15-disc compilation Puccini: The Great Opera Collection, courtesy of Decca

Presented in partnership with Classical 96.3 FM, the contest closes at midnight on May 25, 2009.

For contest details and entry visit www.coc.ca .


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Monday, May 11, 2009

COC Welcomes Rising Opera Singers to the 2009/10 Ensemble Studio

The Canadian Opera Company is proud to announce the addition of six young artists to its renowned training program: intern music coach Anne Larlee, intern director Alistair Newton, soprano Simone Osborne, mezzo-soprano Wallis Guinta, baritone Adrian Kramer and bass Neil Craighead. These young artists join returning members: sopranos Laura Albino, Ileana Montalbetti and Teiya Kasahara; mezzo-soprano Erin Fisher tenors Michael Barrett and Adam Luther; and bass Michael Uloth.

Widely recognized as the countrys foremost performance and training program for young opera professionals, the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio celebrates its 30th anniversary during the 2009/10 season.

Ensemble Studio members participate in a diverse and challenging training program that includes intensive vocal coaching, language studies, acting, personal training and Alexander Technique classes. They also participate in seminars and masterclasses with internationally recognized professionals. Ensemble members understudy as well as perform leading and supporting roles in COC mainstage productions. In addition, they participate in the COCs annual Xstrata Ensemble Studio School Tour, which provides young audiences throughout Ontario with an introduction to the world of opera. The 2009/10 school tour runs throughout the month of November 2009, delighting young audiences with and an bridged version of Rossinis The Barber of Seville and a production of Cinderella featuring a mix of Rossini and Massenet operas.

COC General Director Alexander Neef extends the companys warmest congratulations to sopranos Betty Allison, Lisa DiMaria, baritone Alexander Hajek, vocal coach Christopher Mokrzowski and conductor Samuel Tak-Ho Tam, who all graduate from the 2008/09 Ensemble Studio program this season.


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Mozart's Cos fan tutte Showcase the COC's Ensemble Studio

The Canadian Opera Companys Ensemble Studio culminates a year of training with a production of Mozarts masterpiece, Cos fan tutte. This new production showcases the talented artists of the COCs Ensemble Studio, the companys training program for young opera professionals. Cos fan tutte is sung in Italian, and is presented at the Imperial Oil Opera Theatre in the Joey and Toby Tanenbaum Opera Centre, 227 Front St. E., for four performances only on June 15, 17, 19, 2009 at 7:30 p.m. and June 21, 2009 at 2 p.m.

Set in 19th-century Naples, Cos fan tutte, Mozarts classic tale of the battle between the sexes, follows two soldiers, Ferrando and Guglielmo who believe that their fiances, sisters Fiordiligi and Dorabella, will remain eternally faithful. Don Alfonso, an elderly cynic, plants the seed of doubt regarding the ladies faithfulness and wagers with them that if given the chance, the women will stray. Through the use of disguises, the men deceive their fiances and all four learn important lessons about the uncertainty of love.

To showcase all Ensemble Studio members, each role will be shared over the course of four performances. The role of Ferrando is sung by tenors Michael Barrett and Adam Luther, while baritones Alexander Hajek and Ensemble Studio graduate Justin Welsh share the role of Guglielmo. Fiordiligi, Guglielmos fiance, is sung by sopranos Betty Allison, Ileana Montalbetti and

Laura Albino. Dorabella, Ferrandos fiance, is sung by mezzo-sopranos Erin Fisher and former Ensemble Studio member Lauren Segal. Ensemble Studio graduate bass-baritone Jon-Paul Dcosse and bass Michael Uloth sing the role of the scheming Don Alfonso, and sopranos Lisa DiMaria and Teiya Kasahara alternate in the role of Despina, the sisters maid who encourages the women to pursue other men. Award-winning conductor and Mozart specialist Martin Isepp shares the podium with former Ensemble Studio member Steven Philcox, and Michael Albano, director of last seasons mainstage production of The Barber of Seville, directs. Sets and costumes for Cos fan tutte are designed by Lorenzo Savoini while Rene Brode lights this comedic favourite.

Tickets for Cos fan tutte are $75 and are available online at www.coc.ca, by calling COC Ticket Services at 416-363-8231, or in person at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts

Box Office, 145 Queen St. W., Monday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. All performances are general admission. For more information on Cos fan tutte and the COC Ensemble Studio, visit www.coc.ca .

Production Co-sponsor of Cos fan tutte: Canadian Opera Volunteer Committee (COVC)

The COC Ensemble Studio is widely recognized as the countrys foremost performance and training program for young opera professionals. The members of the Ensemble Studio are the COCs resident artists and are important ambassadors for the company. Since its inception in 1980, over 150 young professional Canadian singers, opera coaches, stage directors, and conductors have acquired their first major professional operatic experience through the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio. Chosen through a national audition process, members of the Ensemble Studio receive a blend of advanced study and practical experience over a period of one to three years. Former members include Ben Heppner, Isabel Bayrakdarian, Gidon Saks, John Fanning and Wendy Nielsen.

The Ensemble Studio is generously supported by the Government of Canada through the Department of Canadian Heritage, The Canadian Opera Volunteer Committee, The John A. Cook Young Artist Development Fund, Harris Steel Group, The Audrey S. Hellyer Charitable Foundation, The Hal Jackman Fund at the Ontario Arts Foundation, Jo Lander, Ruby Mercer Fund, George Cedric Metcalf Charitable Foundation, Roger D. Moore Ensemble Studio Endowment Fund, RBC Financial Group, The Slaight Family, The Stratton Trust, William and Phyllis Waters, and an anonymous donor.

About the Canadian Opera Company

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 companys new home, the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, was designed by Diamond and Schmitt Architects Inc. and is Canadas first purpose-built opera house. 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.

Canadian Opera Company Website

The Canadian Opera Companys new website, at www.coc.ca , contains information on all productions including synopses, historical background, and production photographs.


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Thursday, March 19, 2009

CCOC in two COC productions this spring


Canadian Children's Opera Company
to appear with the
Canadian Opera Company this Spring!

The Canadian Children's Opera Company (CCOC) has already enjoyed a very full 2008/09 season. In addition to a number of Christmas concerts and their own production of A Dickens of a Christmas at the Enwave Theatre, they also participated in three Toronto Symphony Orchestra concerts. And they are just getting started . . .

Next on the schedule for these tremendously busy and talented young singers are two productions with the Canadian Opera Company: Giacomo Puccini's La bohme, which will run from April 17 to May 24, and Benjamin Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream, playing from May 5 to 23. Both productions take place at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.

Puccini's ever-popular La bohme is a staple for every opera company and is one of the most frequently performed operas in the world. Twenty of the CCOC choristers will make their appearance in Act 2, as a great crowd gathers and the children clamour to see the wares of Parpignol, the toy seller.

Adapted from Shakespeare's play A Midsummer Night's Dream, the opera of the same name is perhaps Britten's most enchanting work. It is full of beautifully crafted, dreamlike and atmospheric music. The chorus of 20 fairies, all of whom will be supplied by the CCOC, has a huge part in this opera, appearing at the very beginning during the opening scene, all the way until the very end. Four choristers will also have solo parts (Cobweb, Moth, Mustardseed, and Peaseblossom) and play musical instruments (2 recorders, woodblocks, and cymbals) on stage.

Being a part of the CCOC requires enormous commitment from the young singers, but nothing can compare to the thrill of being on stage for a major, full-scale production!

The Canadian Children's Opera Company, led by Artistic Director Ann Cooper Gay, is one of the world's few children's opera companies. The CCOC commissions, produces, records, and tours new operas and choral music, with children as principal performers. The company also regularly collaborates with other leading arts organizations and prominent individual performers, conductors, and directors. The Company contains six divisions, with over 200 children, and youth of ages 5 to 19. The newest division, OPERAtion Kids, is a non-auditioned program for ages 8-13.

Canadian Children's Opera Company and the COC
La bohme - April 17 to May 24, 2009
A Midsummer Night's Dream - May 5 to May 23, 2009
Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts
145 Queen Street West, Toronto
Tickets available online at www.coc.ca, by calling 416-363-8231,
or in person at the Four Seasons Centre Box Office

Special young people's tickets $30 to $109
(15 years of age or under, accompanied by and sitting next to an adult)

Beginning Saturday, April 4, 2009 at 10am, $20 tickets are available for patrons between the ages of 16 and 29 through the Opera for a New Age program
Valid photo ID is required upon pickup

Regular ticket prices range from $60 to $315

For more information, long on to www.canadianchildrensopera.com

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