CANADIAN OPERA COMPANY’S 2007/08 SEASON
A REASON TO CELEBRATE!
Toronto, Ontario — Canadian Opera Company General Director Richard Bradshaw announced details of the company’s 2007/2008 programming today. Next year the COC expands its season to seven mainstage operas offering revivals of three productions, two new productions including a COC premiere, a stunning rental production of a Russian masterpiece and a co-production of one of the largest works in the operatic repertoire. All are performed in the company’s much lauded new home, the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.
"The Four Seasons Centre, with the intimacy and phenomenal acoustics of R. Fraser Elliott Hall, has reinvigorated the COC, allowing us to do operas the way we want to do them. Our commitment to adventurous programming and the quality of our orchestra, chorus and ensemble have garnered international attention. With this season we hope to build on our reputation for excellence," said COC General Director Richard Bradshaw.
The season opens with a revival of Mozart’s perennial favourite The Marriage of Figaro. Last performed by the company at the Elgin Theatre in 1993, this heartfelt comedy of human frailties, recalls a day of comings and goings in the palace of Count Almaviva. Figaro, the Count’s valet, plans to marry Susanna, who has also caught the eye of the philandering Almaviva. The Countess, Figaro and Susanna conspire to teach him a lesson about fidelity. One of the most sought-after lyric baritones on the international stage today, Canadian baritone Russell Braun is the conniving Count. COC Ensemble Studio graduate, bass Robert Gleadow returns after two seasons with the Jette Parker Young Artist Programme at Royal Opera, Covent Garden, to sing the title character. The role of Figaro’s love, Susanna, is shared by renowned sopranos Ying Huang and Isabel Bayrakdarian. Chinese soprano Ying Huang’s performances in the Mozart roles of Zerlina, Susanna, Despina and Pamina have been seen in opera houses from New York to Asia, Europe to Latin America. Also known for her Mozart roles, Ensemble Studio graduate soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian has sung Susanna at the Met, Covent Garden and the Houston Grand Opera to great acclaim. Ensemble Studio graduate Jessica Muirhead returns from a successful run at the Vienna Volksoper to sing the role of the Countess. Mezzo-soprano Sandra Piques Eddy makes her COC debut as the page Cherubino. Praised for her "rich, velvety voice, stunning good looks and above all her depth of feeling for every word and note," (The Boston Herald) Ms Piques Eddy has sung Cherubino at the Met, Los Angeles Opera and Chicago Opera Theater. Bass Donato di Stefano is Doctor Bartolo and mezzo-soprano Megan Latham is Marcellina. Acclaimed English conductor Julia Jones makes her COC debut with this production. The Marriage of Figaro runs October 2, 5, 10, 13, 16, 18, 21 (m), 24, 27 (m), 30 and November 2, 2007 and is sung in Italian with English SURTITLES™.
In contrast to Mozart’s Italian comedy, the fall season continues with Verdi’s dark and dramatic masterpiece about love, jealousy and intrigue – Don Carlos. Elisabeth de Valois and Don Carlos meet in the forest of Fontainebleau and fall deeply in love. However, their joy is short-lived as they soon discover she is betrothed to Don Carlos’ father, King Philip II. COC favourite, Russian tenor Mikhail Agafonov sings the title role. Celebrated for her recent performances as Sieglinde in the COC’s and Bayreuth Festival’s recent Ring Cycles, soprano Adrianne Pieczonka is Elisabeth deValois. Ms Pieczonka sings seven performances and COC Ensemble graduate, soprano Joni Henson. sings Elisabeth for the October 23rd performance. Mezzo-sopranos Guang Yang and Mary Phillips. who were also in the COC’s acclaimed Ring Cycle, share the role of Princess Eboli, Elisabeth’s lady in waiting. American baritone Scott Hendricks makes his COC debut as Don Carlos’ friend Rodrigue. Norwegian bass-baritone Terje Stensvold makes his COC debut as King Philip after singing Wotan at the new National Opera House in Oslo. Armenian bass Ayk Martirossian, last seen as Sparafucile in Rigoletto, is the Grand Inquisitor. Ensemble graduate, soprano Nathalie Paulin, is Thibault and Czech bass Zdenek Plech is the Monk. Set against the chilling backdrop of the Spanish Inquisition, this co-production with Welsh National Opera is directed by Tony Award-winning Broadway director John Caird with sets by Johan Engels. Costume designer Carl Friedrich Oberle and lighting designer Nigel Levings return to the COC having previously worked on the award-winning 2001 production of Billy Budd. Originally written in French and created for the 1867 World Exposition in Paris, Don Carlos was later shortened and translated into Italian. Although it is the Italian version that is most often performed, the COC, under the guidance of conductor Richard Bradshaw, will perform the five-act French version which includes the often-omitted Fontainebleau scene. Don Carlos runs October 12, 17, 20 (m), 23, 25, 28 (m), 31 and November 3, 2007 and is sung in French with English SURTITLES™. Due to the length of the opera, evening performances of Don Carlos begin at 7 p.m.
A new COC production of Tosca, Puccini’s enduringly popular tale of extraordinary passion, corruption and sacrifice, opens the winter run. Floria Tosca, a hot-tempered diva, tries desperately to save her lover from death at the hands of Rome’s corrupt Chief of Police, Baron Scarpia. Hungarian soprano Eszter Sümegi returns to the COC as Tosca, a role she sang with the company in 2003.
"A clever singer and a poised actress" (The Globe and Mail), Ms Sümegi was praised for her portrayal of the passionate diva and "her `Vissi d’arte’ aria was just one glorious highlight" (Toronto Star). The role of Tosca’s lover, Cavaradossi, is sung by tenor Mikhail Agafonov who appears earlier in the season as Don Carlos. English baritone Alan Opie, who last performed with the COC as Rigoletto, is the conniving chief of Police – Scarpia. Renowned American maestro, Richard Buckley returns to the COC having led the COC Orchestra in many productions including La fanciulla del West, Gianni Schicchi/Pagliacci and The Barber of Seville. The team responsible for the current production of Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, director Paul Curran and set and costume designer Kevin Knight, return to create this new production. Tosca runs January 26 (m), 29, February 1, 3 (m), 6, 9, 12. 14, 17 (m), 20 and 23, 2008 and is sung in Italian with English SURTITLES™.
The winter run continues with a COC premiere and new production of Leos Janäcek’s overwhelmingly powerful opera From the House of the Dead. Based on the novel of the same name by Dostoevsky, From the House of the Dead is a stunning opera unlike any other in the repertoire. It does not have a linear plot but instead recounts the experiences of several inmates in a Siberian prison camp in a series of episodic scenes. Despite the dark and harrowing stories of each prisoner, From the House of the Dead is ultimately a hopeful and uplifting piece that resonates deeply with audiences. Acclaimed for his performance as Mime in the COC’s Ring Cycle, tenor Robert Künzli is Luka Kumic (Filka Morosov) a convict responsible for a previous prison rebellion. COC Ensemble Studio graduate tenor David Pomeroy, Faust in the COC’s current production, returns to sing Skuratov, a former cobbler. COC regular, bass-baritone Pavlo Hunka, returns to the COC as Sigkov, an inmate whose searing monologue recounts his jealous murder of his wife. COC favourite Canadian bass Robert Pomakov is Alexander Petrovic Gorjancikov, a political prisoner new to the camp. Ensemble mezzo-soprano Lauren Segal is Aljeja, a young Tartar boy. Czech bass Zdenek Plech is the brutal Prison Governor. Tenor Hubert Francis, seen in this season’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, is the tortured prisoner Sapkin. Head of Moscow’s Helikon Opera Company Dmitri Bertman, director of this season’s La Traviata, returns to direct this production with sets and costumes by Dora Award-winning designer Astrid Janson and Richard Bradshaw conducting. From the House of the Dead runs February 2, 5, 7, 10 (m), 13, 16 (m), 19, and 22, 2008 and is sung in Czech with English SURTITLES™.
Tchaikovsky’s ever popular masterpiece Eugene Onegin begins the spring season. Tatyana, a simple country girl, falls in love with the aristocrat Onegin and impetuously declares her love in a letter ... a love that is arrogantly rejected. Years later they meet again and Onegin professes his love for her but Tatyana has married and will not abandon her husband. Irish soprano Giselle Allen, last seen as
Marie in Wozzeck, is Tatyana and internationally acclaimed Canadian baritone Brett Polegato is Onegin. Mr. Polegato, who makes his COC mainstage solo debut this season in Faust, has appeared on opera stages throughout the world including Lincoln Center, La Scala,1’Opera National de Paris, Glyndebourne Festival Opera and the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Former COC Ensemble mezzo-soprano Allyson McHardy, recently seen in the COC’s Ring Cycle, is Tatyana’s sister Olga and Russian tenor Daniil Shtoda, from the famed Mariinsky Theatre, is her fiancé Lensky. Ukrainian bass Pavel Daniluk, who is in the current COC production of Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, returns to the COC as Tatyana’s husband Prince Gremin. American mezzo-soprano Barbara Dever is the maid Filipyevna. This compelling production, originally created for 1’Opera National du Rhin, is conducted by Richard Bradshaw, directed and designed by Marco Arturo Marelli with costumes by Bettina Walter. Eugene Onegin runs April 2, 6 (m), 10, 12, 15, 18, 24, 26 (m) and 30, 2008 and is sung in Russian with English SURTITLES™.
The spring run continues with Rossini’s comic favourite The Barber of Seville. This ever-popular comedy recounts the story of Count Almaviva’s seduction of Rosina. Making their COC debuts, Albanian mezzo-soprano Enkelejda Shkosa is the beguiling Rosina and English tenor Jeremy Ovenden is Almaviva. Russian baritone Rodion Pogossov makes his Canadian debut as the irrepressible barber, Figaro, who Almaviva hires to gain access to Rosina. Mr. Pogossov garnered international attention and acclaim for his performance of Papageno in the Metropolitan Opera’s new production of The Magic Flute. Last at the COC as Taddeo in L’Italiana in Algol, American baritone Patrick Carfizzi is Dr. Bartolo, Rosina’s guardian who hides her away, intent on marrying her himself. Bass Burak Bilgili, Banquo in last season’s Macbeth, is Don Basilio, Rosina’s music teacher. Michael Patrick Albano, who recently directed the world premiere of James Rolfe’s Swoon, directs this revival of the COC’s 1999 production and Miguel Harth-Bedoya conducts. The Barber of Seville runs April 16, 19, 25, May 2, 4 (m), 8, 10 (m), 13, 16, 21 and 23, 2008 and is sung in Italian with English SURTITLES™.
The season closes with a revival of Nicholas Muni’s captivating production of Debussy’s impressionist masterpiece Pelléas et Mélisande. This production features a superb cast featuring (for the second time during the season) pre-eminent Canadian opera singers Russell Braun as Pelléas and Isabel Bayrakdarian as Mélisande. Bass-baritone Pavlo Hunka is Golaud, Pelléas’ half-brother and Mélisande’s husband. Richard Wiegold makes his COC debut as King Arkel and Barbara Dever is his daughter Genevieve. A favourite among conductors, including the COC’s Richard Bradshaw who helms this production, Pelléas et Mélisande is known for the extraordinary beauty of its orchestral writing. "Debussy’s only opera is a perfect synthesis of poetry and hauntingly beautiful music," says Bradshaw. The sensuous score will be aptly showcased in the warm acoustics of R. Fraser Elliott Hall. This production, originally created in 2000, features striking sets and costumes by Dany Lyne, winner of the 2006 Siminovitch Prize in Theatre, and lighting by acclaimed designer Thomas C. Hase. Pelléas et Mélisande runs May 6, 9, 11 (m), 14, 17, 20, 22, and 24 (m), 2008 and is sung in French with English SURTITLES™.
The 2007/08 season also features a production showcasing the talents of the COC Ensemble Studio. This season’s production is a double-bill of Don Giovanni by Giuseppe Gazzaniga and Renard by Igor Stravinsky. Due to the expanded performance schedule for the 2007/08 season, the Ensemble Studio production will be performed in June 2008. Don Giovanni/Renard is presented at the
Imperial Oil Opera Theatre, in the Joey and Toby Tanenbaum Opera Centre, 227 Front St. E., on June 16, 18, 20 and 22 (m), 2008.
With the exception of Don Carlos all evening performances during the 2007/08 season begin at
7:30 p.m. Saturday matinee performances begin at 4:30 p.m., and Sunday matinee performances are at 2 p.m. Mainstage performances take place at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, 145 Queen St. W. All repertoire and casting is subject to change.
Subscriptions to the seven mainstage operas for the COC’s 2007/08 season range from $264 to $1076, with Grand Ring (box level) seat subscriptions available at $1587 and $1937, and may be purchased by calling 416-363-8231, toll-free at 1-800-250-4653, or in person at the Four Seasons Centre Box Office, 145 Queen St. W., Toronto, or online atwww.coc.ca. Subscriptions are available to renewing COC subscribers on January 16, 2007 and to the general public on May 7, 2007.
Single tickets are available to the public as of August 20, 2007 for the fall run, as of December 5, 2007 for the winter run and as of February 18, 2008 for the spring run. Single ticket prices for all
performances range from $60 to $190, with Grand Ring (box level) seat tickets available at $225 and $275.
Special young people’s tickets for all performances throughout the season are priced from $20 to $95. These ticket prices apply to those who are 15 years of age or under, accompanied by and sitting next to an adult. Young adults between the ages of 16 to 29 may purchase specially-priced $20 tickets through the COC’s Opera for a New Age program approximately one week prior to each production. Opera for a New Age is presented by TD Bank Financial Group. A total of 150 seats, each priced at $20, will be reserved for every COC performance and available for purchase through Opera for a New Age, student groups and rush seating on the day of a performance.
For more information on the Canadian Opera Company’s 2007/08 season, please visit the COC Web site atwww.coc.ca.
The Marriage of Figaro Production Sponsor: RBC Financial Group
Don Carlos Production Sponsor: Aber Diamond Corporation and Harry Winston Presenting Sponsor of SURTITLES™: Sun Life Financial
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 generously supported by the Government of Canada through the Department of Canadian Heritage, 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, Patricia Kraemer, Jo Lander, The John McKellar Charitable Foundation, Ruby Mercer Fund, George Cedric Metcalf Charitable Foundation, Roger D. Moore Ensemble Studio Endowment Fund, RBC Financial Group, The Stratton Trust, William and Phyllis Waters, and an anonymous donor.
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