DESKTOP
TABLET (max. 1024px)
MOBILE (max. 640px)
Return to Top
Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

THE SCOOP | COC 2018-19 Season Features Big Names And A World Premiere

By Joseph So on January 17, 2018

Rufus Wainwright (Photo: Matthew Welch)
Rufus Wainwright (Photo: Matthew Welch)

For Toronto opera fans, mid-January is a particularly exciting time, because of the announcement of the upcoming Canadian Opera Company’s new season. Over the years, it has evolved from an essentially media-focused event at the Company headquarters on 227 Front Street East, to a big production with all the bells and whistles, taking place in the Four Seasons Centre, where all subscribers are invited and treated to a reception and musical entertainment complete with singers and full orchestra.

Well, it’s not happening this year, folks! For whatever reason, we are back to a season announcement via a press release.

As in previous years, six productions divided into three pairs, for the fall, winter and spring seasons. It’s a particularly well-balanced season, with operas in Italian, German, Russian, and English; a smorgasbord of Mozart, Verdi, Puccini, Strauss, and Tchaikovsky, plus a world premiere.

Fall Season (Eugene Onegin and Hadrian)

A scene from Lyric Opera of Chicago's production of Eugene Onegin. (Photo: Todd Rosenberg)
A scene from Lyric Opera of Chicago’s production of Eugene Onegin. (Photo: Todd Rosenberg)

The fall season opens on September 30 with Eugene Onegin. It’s the Robert Carsen production originally staged for the Metropolitan Opera. The largely Canadian cast features bass-baritone Gordon Bintner in the title role; Joyce El-Khoury, last seen as Violetta, returns as Tatiana; Joseph Kaiser is Lensky. The Armenian mezzo Varduhi Abrahamyan, last seen in Ariodante, returns as Olga.  Also returning is American mezzo Helene Schneiderman as Madame Larina. Making his COC debut is Moldovan bass Oleg Tsibulko as Prince Gremin. Johannes Debus conducts. Sept. 30 – Nov. 3 (8 performances)

Paired with the Tchaikovsky is the world premiere of the COC commissioned piece, Hadrian, by Canadian songwriter/singer/composer Rufus Wainwright. For this show, the COC is sparing no expenses with big-name casting — making COC debuts will be American baritone Thomas Hampson in the title role, and  Finnish soprano Karita Mattila (Plotina). Canadians include tenor Isaiah Bell (Antinous) and Ambur Braid (Sabina). As if that’s not enough, the COC entices retired Canadian heldentenor Ben Heppner to return to the stage in a cameo role as Dinarchus. Johannes Debus conducts.  Oct. 13 – 27 (7 performances)

Winter Season (Elektra and Cosi fan tutte)

(L-R) Susan Bullock as Elektra and John Mac Master as Aegisth in the Canadian Opera Company’s production of Elektra, 2007 (Photo: Michael Cooper)
(L-R) Susan Bullock as Elektra and John Mac Master as Aegisth in the Canadian Opera Company’s production of Elektra, 2007 (Photo: Michael Cooper)

It opens with Elektra, with not one but two Brunnhildes!  American soprano Christine Goerke, a fantastic Brunnhilde in Götterdämmerung last season, returns as Elektra.  British soprano Susan Bullock, a former Elektra and Brunnhilde at the COC, sings Klytemnestra. Canadian soprano Erin Wall sings her first Chrysothemis. German bass Wilhelm Schwinghammer makes his COC debut as Orest, and Canadian tenor Michael Schade is Aegisth. This is a revival, directed by James Robinson. Johannes Debus conducts. Jan. 26 – Feb. 22 (7 performances)

The dreary Toronto winter demands some light entertainment, so there’s always a comic piece in the winter season. This time it’s a revival of the Atom Egoyan production of Cosi fan tutte. The sisters are Canadians — soprano Kirsten MacKinnon and mezzo Emily D’Angelo, both Met Auditions winners and both with flourishing international careers. Russell Braun, last season’s Louis Riel, retuns as Don Alfonso. His partner in crime is Tracy Dahl as Despina. American tenor Ben Bliss is Ferrando, and German baritone Johannes Kammler is Guglielmo, both making their debuts. Mozart specialist Bernard Labadie conducts. Feb. 5 – 23 (9 performances)

Spring Season (La bohème and Otello)

A scene from the Canadian Opera Company production of La Bohème, 2013. (Photo: Michael Cooper)
A scene from the Canadian Opera Company production of La Bohème, 2013. (Photo: Michael Cooper)

The perennial favourite, the Puccini warhorse La bohème is back for a run of 11 performances, with all principals double-cast. The fast-rising American soprano Angel Blue makes her COC debut as Mimi, sharing the role with Canadian soprano Miriam Khalil, a COC Ensemble graduate. Musetta is shared by Canadian sopranos Andriana Chuchman (last seen as Olympia in Hoffmann) and Danika Loren, currently an Ensemble Studio artist. Brazilian tenor Atalla Ayan makes his COC debut as Rodolfo, sharing it with American tenor Joshua Guerrero, currently in town to sing the Duke of Mantua. American baritone Lucas Meacham and Polish baritone Andrej Filonczyk shares Marcello. Conductor is Italian maestro Paolo Carignani. April 17 – May 22 (11 performances)

The season concludes with the Verdi masterpiece, Otello, starring American tenor Russell Thomas, last season’s Pollione, in the title role. The great Canadian baritone Gerald Finley takes on his first Iago. Finley seems to be moving into the bad guy’s territory these days. Just two days ago in Covent Garden, he sang his first-ever Scarpia, opposite Canadian soprano Adrianne Pieczonka as Tosca. His Iago at the COC is a major event for the legion of fans of this great singer.  American soprano Tamara Wilson, last heard as Rosalinda in Die Fledermaus, returns as Desdemona. The production comes from ENO and is directed by David Alden. Johannes Debus conducts.  April 27 – May 21 (8 performances)

There you have it, a well-balanced season, a combination of the familiar and the new, basically a bit of everything for every taste. To be sure, there’s no French opera and no Baroque, but that’s bound to happen when you only have six operas to work with. It’s nice to see Hampson and Mattila finally singing opera in Toronto.

LUDWIG VAN TORONTO

Want more updates on Toronto-centric classical music news and reviews before anyone else finds out? Follow us on Facebook or Twitter for all the latest.

Joseph So

Joseph So

Joseph So is Professor Emeritus at Trent University and Associate Editor of Opera Canada.He is also a long-time contributor to La Scena Musicale and Opera (London, UK). His interest in music journalism focuses on voice, opera as well as symphonic and piano repertoires. He appears regularly as a panel member of the Big COC Podcast.He has co-edited a book, Opera in a Multicultural World: Coloniality, Culture, Performance, published by Routledge (Taylor & Francis Group).
Joseph So
Joseph So

Joseph So

Joseph So is Professor Emeritus at Trent University and Associate Editor of Opera Canada.He is also a long-time contributor to La Scena Musicale and Opera (London, UK). His interest in music journalism focuses on voice, opera as well as symphonic and piano repertoires. He appears regularly as a panel member of the Big COC Podcast.He has co-edited a book, Opera in a Multicultural World: Coloniality, Culture, Performance, published by Routledge (Taylor & Francis Group).
Joseph So
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_high_590x300
comments powered by Disqus

Ludwig Van Toronto

SCRUTINY | Canadian Opera Company Closes Season With The Best Anna Bolena It Can Muster

By Joseph So on April 30, 2018

In a season of superlatives, the Canadian Opera Company saves the best for last, in its season-ending production of Donizetti’s Anna Bolena.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_high_590x300

SCRUTINY | Cleveland Orchestra Offers A Transcendent Concert Tristan und Isolde

By Joseph So on April 24, 2018

For devout Wagnerites within striking distance of Severance Hall in Cleveland, an important highlight this Spring is The Ecstasy of Tristan and Isolde, a “Festival Week” (April 21 – 29) focusing on the eternal love story of Tristan and Isolde, with the centerpiece being three concert performances of the monumental Wagner music drama.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article

LISTEN UP | Cherry Blossom Season Requires A Cherry Blossom Classical Playlist

By Sara Schabas on May 11, 2018

You guessed it, it’s peak season for cherry blossoms in Toronto, and with it, a playlist of spring inspired classical music to lead you into the weekend.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_low_590x300
lv_toronto_ssb_atf_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_high_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_mid_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_low_300x300
lv_toronto_tsb_high_300x700
lv_toronto_tsb_low_300x700
lv_toronto_ssb_atf_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_high_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_mid_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_low_300x300
lv_toronto_tsb_high_300x700
lv_toronto_tsb_low_300x700

We have detected that you are using an adblocking plugin in your browser.

The revenue we earn by the advertisements is used to manage this website. Please whitelist our website in your adblocking plugin.