The Canadian Opera Company saw a reassuring return to sold-out in-person programming in 2021/2022, with average mainstage attendance at a healthy 94%.
The good news emerged from the COC’s Annual General Meeting earlier this month.
“I couldn’t be more proud of my first season at the COC — a multidimensional team achievement that ultimately challenged and rewarded the artists and our audiences,” said COC General Director Perryn Leech. “Amidst continually changing challenges in producing for live audiences, the Canadian Opera Company showcased the vast breadth of opera’s storytelling potential with performances that leapt far beyond the live mainstage experience.”
Early in the 2021/2022 season, the constant fluctuation of closure mandates and periods of limited capacity audiences was challenging. Online efforts seem to have paid off insofar as keeping opera fans engaged. From September 2021 until April 2022, the COC released eight full-length opera productions digitally, while offering a free online membership. The numbers are solid:
- Digital audiences viewed in excess of 18,000 hours of performance footage;
- Viewers came from 135 different countries;
- The digital season generation more than 10.4 million impressions.
“In a COC first,” Perrin explained, “we broadcast an unprecedented slate of purpose-produced and free monthly digital concerts and fully staged productions that connected us to viewers across the country and beyond. This specially curated programming, highlighted by a 60% increase in our online engagement through the year, certainly kept audiences primed and eager for the company’s triumphant return to the stage in the spring.”
The first shows back in person and at full capacity proved Toronto audiences were more than ready to come back.
“The feeling in the air at those first shows back was absolutely electric,” continued Leech. “And our opera house attendance through the spring certainly reflects how eager Canadians are to have live opera as part of our vibrant local arts and culture landscape.”
Another highlight was the news that the organization reported a surplus for the season, despite the uncertainties and difficulties. Net revenues (after expenses) amounted to $7,782,000.
“Through continued financial rigour, including significant contributions to the Canadian Opera Company Foundation, the company is beginning to see the results of a multi-year plan for post-pandemic recovery,” said COC Board Chair Jonathan Morgan. “We are grateful to our government partners whose steadfast support shows a demonstrated commitment to seeing the performing arts not only recover, but thrive. In particular, we must thank the Government of Canada and Government of Ontario, Ministry of Tourism, Culture, and Sport, as well as the Department of Canadian Heritage, FedDev Ontario, Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, Ontario Trillium Foundation, and the Toronto Arts Council.”
Fundraising efforts provided a solid contribution to the COC’s coffers. More than 3,000 households donated a whopping $9.6 million to the COC towards the development of Canadian opera, of which, 17% represented new donors.
Alongside the crowd-pleasing mainstage shows, the COC also branched out into initiatives such as the Showcase Series of diverse cultural programming, community partnerships, and the rebranded Canadian Opera Company Theatre (COCT), which produced two boundary-pushing and well-received performances during the season.
The positive annual report, based on figures up to June 30, 2022, is good news for opera lovers.
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