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THE SCOOP | Toronto City Opera Launches New Giuseppe Macina Operatic Voices Competition

By Anya Wassenberg on March 20, 2024

A scene from the Toronto City Opera production of Die Fledermaus (Photo: Dahlia Katz)
A scene from the Toronto City Opera production of Die Fledermaus (Photo: Dahlia Katz)

Toronto City Opera is launching the inaugural Giuseppe Macina Operatic Voices Competition with a submission deadline of April 8, 2024. Created in the name of TCO founder Giuseppe Macina, the competition will end with a live performance on May 11 featuring the eight finalists.

The team of adjudicators includes soprano Adrianne Pieczonka, award-winning opera director Tom Diamond, conductor Denis Mastromonaco, Dora nominated conductor and TCO Artistic Director Jennifer Tung, stage director Stephen Carr, and TCO’s accompanist/Music Director Ivan Estey Jovanovic.

We asked Jennifer Tung (JT) a few questions about the new competition, which will repeat annually.

About the Giuseppe Macina Competition

LvT: What led to developing this competition, held for the first time this year?

JT: To be the stepping stone for up and coming artists (first local, then provincial and national) by providing opportunities and mentorship has always been important to me personally as well as to TCO. We hired Stephen Carr this year for the newly created position of Director of Development and Engagement. He suggested the idea of starting a competition. I was immediately drawn to the idea and we started planning.

LvT: How important is a competition like this to emerging opera singers?

JT: The competition setting, aside from making some financial resources available for the participants (in prize monies), we can also give the finalists exposure by inviting industry professionals (agents, artistic directors, music directors etc) to the final concert. We are also aiming to provide performance opportunities through TCO as well as other local organizations that we have close relationships with.

LvT: It seems like there is a growing and busy indie opera scene in Toronto and the GTA — at least, that’s my impression. Would you agree with that statement?

JT: Absolutely!!! I think Toronto has one of the most active indie opera scenes in the country and that is so exciting. It means our audiences have many options to experience opera in unique settings/concepts.

LvT: What is your impression of this new generation of opera singers in this area? It seems that the institutions in this area are turning out well educated and trained vocalists at all levels. What kind of response are you expecting?

JT: We are expecting enthusiastic responses from the vocal community. We are very thankful that organizations like NATS and vocal teachers (private and university professors) have already been spreading the word for us!! There are many talented young singers in the city and we looking forward to hearing many of them. We expect many high level applicants for this year.

LvT: Opera, like the world of Western classical music itself, is at a kind of crossroads between not only old and new music, but older ways of operating and new paradigms — opera on film, livestreaming, opera in bars and other alternative venues, to name a few, not to mention the area of inclusivity. Are the younger opera singers you encounter prepared for those changes?

JT: This is definitely true that we are at crossroads, especially in the opera industry. The bustling indie opera scene in Toronto means we are seeing many exploring new ways and contexts to present opera. Young opera singers here are very fortunate to be exposed to these and to have opportunities to participate in them. As for educational institutions, they are definitely starting to make changes but slowly. It will take some time before more major changes can happen as there are many levels of administration etc to go through in every academic setting. It is my belief these changes are essential.

Giuseppe Macina

Born in Italy, tenor, opera director, conductor and teach Giuseppe Macina came to Canada in 1954. He studied, and graduated from, the Royal Conservatory of Music, and the University of Toronto Faculty of Music.

His operatic debut came in a Royal Cons Opera School (University of Toronto Opera Division) production. Through the 1960s, he performed a number of supporting and soloist roles with the COC and Vancouver Opera, as well as oratorio and concerts with various ensembles. He served as stage director for the University of Toronto’s opera department and Mohawk College (Hamilton) Opera Theatre productions through the 1970s and early 1980s.

He became the inaugural artistic director of the newly founded Toronto Opera Repertoire in 1967, created from a longstanding opera workshop. The organization was created to provide opportunities for young singers, and Macina would direct the ensemble through the Toronto Board of Education.

Toronto Opera Repertoire would become Toronto City Opera, and Macino would lead the organization until his retirement in 2013.

Competition Details

To make the competition more accessible, there is no application fee.

  • Open to opera singers age 21 to 35 who are Canadian citizens or Permanent Residents;
  • Application is by video submission, with a deadline of April 8, 2024;
  • Cash prizes totalling $5,000 will be awarded at the discretion of the adjudicators;
  • The prize includes future performance opportunities with Toronto City Opera;
  • And future performance opportunities with select Southern Ontario orchestras.

The finalists will receive an honorarium for their performance at the live event, in front of an audience that will include directors, arts agents and administrators.

More information about the submission process is available [HERE].

Good luck to all who enter.

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