Alright, it's official! The Canadian Opera Company has announced their line-up for the 2015/16 season. This year the event was grand in scale, taking place in the theatre at the Four Seasons Centre, with the full COC Orchestra downstage of the looming set for the upcoming Die Walküre. I thought the night was a great one. We heard solo performances by soprano Christine Goerke and COC Ensemble Studio member Aviva Fortunata (I loved your dress!), and we were treated to the Act II Finale of Le nozze di Figaro by Russell Braun, Jane Archibald, Karine Boucher, Gordon Bintner, Clarence Frazer and Jean-Philippe Fortier-Lazure. I like this new way of showing off the COC's upcoming offerings, and the full house suggested that subscribers do too.
So, I suppose I should fill you in on the season ahead, and about what I'm most excited. Here goes…
1. La traviata
Oh, I just can’t wait. It’s Arin Arbus’ production, featuring two great casts. Violetta will be sung by Ekaterina Siurina and Joyce El-Khoury (La bohème), opposite two Alfredos, Charles Castronovo and COC Ensemble member Andrew Haji (way to go, Haji!). Giorgio Germont is shared by Quinn Kelsey and James Westman. Can’t go wrong. La traviata runs October 8-November 6, 2015.
2. Lamento d’Arianna/Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda/Pyramus and Thisbe
I don’t know what to make of this, other than I’m totally curious. Arianna and Clorinda are both Monteverdi, and they’re being put up against the world premiere of Barbara Monk Feldman’s Pyramus and Thisbe. Christopher Alden will direct the production, which features great singers like Krisztina Szabó, Phillip Addis, and COC Ensemble member Owen McCausland. I don’t know Monk Feldman’s music, but we heard a bit of her chamber piece, Movements for Five, at the launch tonight. Call me interested. The triple-bill runs October 20-November 7, 2015.
François Girard’s production of Siegfried returns to the COC after ten years, to continue the company’s Ring Cycle tease that starts in a few weeks. The title role will be sung by tenor Stefan Vinke (one of today’s busiest Heldentenors), with Christine Goerke as Brünnhilde, and that cannon of a voice, Alan Held, as Wotan. Siegfried runs January 23-February 14, 2016.
4. Le nozze di Figaro
Claus Guth’s production of Le nozze di Figaro was a hit at the Salzburg Festival in 2006, and it’s coming to Toronto for the first time in 2016. Canadian fave Russell Braun will bring back a signature Mozart role as the Count, and Austrian bass-baritone Josef Wagner sings Figaro. The ladies aren’t bad, either: soprano Erin Wall will sing the Countess, Jane Archibald is Susanna (love!), and mezzo Emily Fons debuts at the COC as Cherubino. Plus, the production photos looks pretty awesome. I can’t wait for this Figaro, which plays from February 4-27, 2016.
He did it! Canadian director Joel Ivany (Against the Grain Theatre, Artistic Director) will put up a show at the Four Seasons Centre. Congrats, friend. Ivany revives the COC’s production of Bizet’s Carmen with two exciting casts. Mezzo-sopranos Anita Rachvelishvili (of last season’s Don Quichotte) and Clémentine Margaine share the title role, opposite David Pomeroy and Russell Thomas as Don José. Escamillos will be Christian Van Horn and Zachary Nelson (current Don Giovanni). I’m super excited about Simone Osborne and COC Ensemble Studio member Karine Boucher sharing the role of Micaëla. Carmen runs April 12-May 15, 2016.
6. Maometto II
I’ll be honest, I’ve never heard of this Rossini opera. It’s one of his serious works, and rarely done, because the title role is apparently ridiculous to sing. But Italian bass-baritone Luca Pisaroni is up for the challenge, singing in the David Alden production of Maometto II. Elizabeth DeShong returns to the COC as Calbo (I can’t wait to see her in a pants role!), and soprano Leah Crocetto debuts as Anna. Oh, and Harry Bicket conducts. Way to lure me to unknown Rossini, COC. Maometto II runs April 29-May 14, 2016.
The Canadian Opera Company has answered some questions about the scarcity of Canadian opera in their seasons, with three upcoming Canadian works, two of which are new commissions. You’ve heard of Rufus Wainwright and Daniel MacIvor’s upcoming Hadrian, set to open the 2018⁄19 season, and now we can look forward to La Reine-Garçon, the new opera by Ana Sokolović and Michel Marc Bouchard in 2019⁄20. On top of that, Russell Braun will star in the title role of Harry Somers’ Louis Riel in 2017. A Canadian opera company indeed!
So, there you have it! I think it’s a neat mix of traditional and new, and it’s definitely a great season for young Canadian singers. Congratulations, guys! I’ll be there with bells on.