Living Opera at the COC

Living Opera at the COC

Jenna Simeonov

I’m a huge advocate of music education for young people, including the programs set up by the Canadian Opera Company’s Education & Outreach department. One of their programs is Living Opera, which gives a class of secondary school students a chance to hear voice and drama workshops, tour the Four Seasons Centre, and see one of the mainstage shows. If it sounds exciting for high school students, you’re right.

Yesterday’s Living Opera focused on The Barber of Seville, and students came from Notre Dame Catholic High School in Ajax. After an introduction to opera and Rossini, and a quick refresher of the plot of Barber, students had the chance to learn some singing technique with voice teacher Mark Joelson Daboll.

Notre Dame Catholic High School students act out the plot of The Barber of Seville

Many of the students were at the opera for the first time yesterday, but a few are more familiar. I asked a few Notre Dame students about what they learned. “I enjoyed all of this. I do like the warm-ups; he’s teaching me how to warm up, how to extend the ranges. It’s brilliant,” says Notre Dame student Robbie Macatangay, who has been to Living Opera workshops in the past.

Mark Joelson Daboll talks breath support.

Fellow student Victoria Cozza is also a bit of a veteran: “I’ve been to two of these before, and I guess [Mark Daboll] really shows us how to properly warm up our voices and I like the way he uses techniques. I’m actually considering getting into opera and singing and stuff, so it’s really interesting to me.”

Mark Joelson Daboll leads a Living Opera vocal workshop.

The best part of offering an inside, up-close look at opera for young people, is that seeing an actual show becomes way more interesting. I was curious about how the workhop and tour would get the students jazzed to see Barber. Notre Dame student Ann Marie Jones was sold before she walked into the Four Seasons Centre. “I’ve just seen the posters outside and it looks kind of crazy and fun and quirky.”

A quick refresher on the plot can count for a lot, too. “I like how they explain what’s going on and stuff,” says Victoria, because it’s not always to understand in Italian.”

Notre Dame Catholic High School students explore the Four Seasons Centre.

Of course, you can’t beat the music. I asked Robbie what excited him most about seeing The Barber of Seville: “I’m looking forward to the infamous arias they’ll perform.”

Living Opera is one of many Education & Outreach programs offered by the Canadian Opera Company. Click here to learn more, and see if the program is right for any of the students or teachers you know.



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