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PREVIEW | Opera York Closes Season With Verdi’s Rigoletto On March 1

By Anya Wassenberg on February 26, 2024

Top (L-R): Corey Arnold; Geoffrey Butler; Penelope Cookson; Bottom (L-R): Holly Chaplin; Andrew Tees; Rigoletto graphic (All images courtesy of the artists/Opera York)
Top (L-R): Corey Arnold; Geoffrey Butler; Penelope Cookson; Bottom (L-R): Holly Chaplin; Andrew Tees; Rigoletto graphic (All images courtesy of the artists/Opera York)

Opera York will close their season with a production of Verdi’s Rigoletto on March 1. An all-Canadian cast of audience favourites will bring Verdi’s tragedy to the stage.

Verdi’s Rigoletto is one of the most popular operas worldwide. Yet, it’s not often presented in this corner of the globe. The COC, for example, last mounted an English National Opera co-production in 2018, and before that in 2011.

Yet, the opera’s message of critiquing the Victorian patriarchy and the sexual predators of Verdi’s own day still resonates in the modern era.

Conductor Geoff Butler comments about the work in a statement.

“Rigoletto is a masterful mix of intense drama and glorious music. There is a pace to the story and depth of character that is positively revolutionary in the work. This, combined with Verdi’s beautiful melodies and his ability to capture the heart beat of humanity in his rhythmic accompaniment make the opera an ideal first opera.”

The Cast

Rigoletto: Andrew Tees

Baritone Andrew Tees has built a diverse career that covers opera, oratorio, and pops singing. He’s performed a variety of operatic roles, including the title roles in the Nozze di Figaro for Opera Ontario and Pacific Opera, and other companies, and singing the role of Don Giovanni for Ottawa’s Opera Lyra and Opera York. Escamillo in carmen is another of his signature roles. He’s a former member of the COC’s Ensemble Studio program, and has returned to the Canadian Opera Company to sing in Lady McBeth and La Traviata.

Duke of Mantua: Corey Arnold

Tenor Corey Arnold is a 2020 laureate of the Jeunes Ambassadeurs Lyriques and a graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. He has sung in opera productions in North America, Italy, Mexico and France, as is a regular performer in the Southern Ontario area with companies such as Southern Ontario Lyric Opera, Toronto City Opera, and Pelligrini Opera, among others. Corey is also a composer, and his first opera, the Lion Heart, premiered in March 2022 in Toronto.

Gilda: Holly Chaplin

Lyric Coloratura Soprano Holly Chaplin is a Toronto native who began her musical training at the age of six with piano lessons. Holly went on to graduate from York University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Classical Voice performance with honours. After performing and training at the Summer Opera Lyric theatre (Olympia in Les Contes d’Hoffmann 2016, and Semele in Semele in 2018), and Miles Nadal Opera Studio, among others, she’s become a sought after featured artist in many Ontario companies, including Opera in Concert, Toronto Operetta Theatre, Talk is Free Theatre in Barrie, Opera By Request, and many others.

The cast is rounded out by Adriana Albu as Maddalena; Dylan Wright as Sparafucile; Douglas Tranquada as Count Monterone; Martha Spence as Giovanna & the Page
; John Holland as Marullo; 
Alvaro Vazquez as Borsa; 
Austin Larusson as Count Ceprano
; Ariana Pesce as Countess Ceprano.

The opera will be staged by Penelope Cookson, with a full orchestra conducted by Geoffrey Butler.

“Opera York has over the years served the artistic fabric of York region. The company strives to bring young singers to the stage as well as giving veteran singers a chance to explore the gems of the operatic repertoire,” comments Geoff Butler.

Information and tickets for the performances March 1 & March 3 at the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts [HERE].

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