The Canadian Opera Company has announced its season line-up for 2017⁄18, along with additional exciting news about the year to come.
Perhaps the most surprising announcement is the appointment of Canadian soprano Jane Archibald as the COC’s new Artist-In-Residence. Archibald sings leading roles in three of the company’s mainstage productions next season, including two role debuts. She’ll also perform in the Free Concert Series in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre at the Four Seasons Centre, and she’ll work as a mentor to the members of the COC Ensemble Studio and the Orchestra Academy. Archibald, with her own professional schedule and her experience working on both sides of the Atlantic, is a savvy, relevant resource for the young artists of the COC. Exciting stuff.
Speaking of the Ensemble Studio, three new incoming artists have been officially selected from the extraordinary talent across Canada. Mezzo-soprano Simone McIntosh, baritone Samuel Chan, and pianist Rachael Kerr are set to join the coveted young artists programme in the fall of 2017. Graduating from the programme are tenors Charles Sy, Aaron Sheppard, and Hyejin Kwon.
A departure from the trend of past seasons, where the artists of the COC Ensemble are featured in a special performance of a mainstage production on the Four Seasons Centre stage, the COC also announces An Evening with the Ensemble Studio, May 25, 2018. The young artists will perform in operatic scenes, conducted by COC Music Director Johannes Debus and joined by the COC Orchestra. Though it’s not quite the same as seeing the young artists in a living production, a gala/scenes evening is likely a chance to hear a good cross-section of the young artists, where they can show off what they do best.
And now, the shows! In chronological order:
Richard Strauss’ Arabella kicks off the fall of 2017. Tim Albery’s production, co-produced with the COC, Minnesota Opera, and Santa Fe Opera, comes to the Four Seasons Centre for the first time. The wonderful Patrick Lange conducts a stellar cast; Canadian sopranos Erin Wall and Jane Archibald sing Arabella and her mysterious sister, Zdenka. Tomasz Konieczny sings Mandryka, and David Pomeroy is Matteo. Performances run October 5-28, 2017.
The Elixir of Love
James Robinson directs a new production of Donizetti’s adorable Elixir of Love, co-produced with the COC, San Francisco Opera, Kansas City Opera, and Colorado Opera. An exciting cast of rising stars includes Simone Osborne as Adina, and Andrew Haji as Nemorino. Gordon Bintner sings the role of Belcore (he and Osborne are also newly married, so it’s super cute), and Andrew Shore sings Doctor Dulcamara. Toronto-born Yves Abel conducts. Performances run October 11 to November 4, 2017.
Christopher Alden’s Rigoletto, co-produced with the COC and English National Opera returns to the Four Seasons Centre from January 20 to February 23, 2018. Verdi’s score is in excellent hands with maestro Stephen Lord, who conducts Roland Wood in the title role, Anna Christy as Gilda, and Stephen Costello as the Duke of Mantua.
The Abduction from the Seraglio
Jane Archibald returns to the Four Season Centre to sing Konstanze in Mozart’s The Abduction from the Serail. Wajdi Mouawad’s production with the COC and Opéra de Lyon also features Mauro Peter as Belmonte, and COC Ensemble Studio graduates Claire de Sévigné as Blonde and Owen McCausland as Pedrillo. COC Music Director Johannes Debus conducts the performances, running February 7-24, 2017.
The Nightingale and Other Short Fables
Robert Lepage’s dazzling production of Stravinksy’s The Nightingale and Other Short Fables sold out in its 2009 premiere run, and from April 13 to May 19, 2017 it returns to the Four Season Centre stage. The co-production with Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, Opéra de Lyon and Ex Machina stars Jane Archibald as the Nightingale, Owen McCausland as the Fisherman, Christian Van Horn as the Emperor, and Meredith Arwardy as Death. Performers in Nightingale manipulate puppets designed by the Tony and Emmy award-winning Michael Curry. COC Music Director Johannes Debus conducts.
Closing the 2017⁄18 season at the COC is Stephen Lawless’ production of Anna Bolena, which premiered at The Dallas Opera. Corrado Rovaris conducts an impressive cast, led by the queen of Queens, star soprano Sondra Radvanovsky.. Eric Owens sings Henry VIII, Keri Alkema is Jane Seymour, and Allyson McHardy sings Smeton. Performances run at the Four Seasons Centre from April 28 to May 26, 2017.
Feature images, from top: A scene from The Nightingale and Other Short Fables, Canadian Opera Company, 2009, photo by Michael Cooper; Erin Wall as Arabella in the Santa Fe Opera production of Arabella, 2012, photo by Ken Howard; Jane Archibald (centre) as Konstanze in the Opera de Lyon production of The Abduction from the Seraglio, 2016. Photo: Bertrand Stofleth.
What are you looking forward to most in the COC’s 2017⁄18 season? Let us know in the comments below!