Based in Toronto, the Canadian Opera Company is the largest producer of opera in Canada and one of the largest in North America. The company enjoys an international reputation for artistic excellence and creative innovation.
For 40 years until April 2006, the COC had performed at the O’Keefe Centre (past names: Hummingbird Centre, The Sony Centre). Nicholas Goldschmidt and Herman Geiger-Torel founded the organization in 1950 as the Royal Conservatory Opera Company. Geiger-Torel became the COC’s artistic director in 1956 and its general director in 1960. The company was renamed the Canadian Opera Association in 1960, and the Canadian Opera Company in 1977. Geiger-Torel retired from the general directorship in 1976. Lotfi Mansouri was the COC’s general director from 1976 to 1988. In 1983, the COC introduced surtitles (supertitles) to their productions, the first company to use them in an opera house. Productions included Joan Sutherland’s first performance of Donizetti’s Anna Bolena.
In 1998, Bradshaw was named general director. During his tenure, Bradshaw secured funding for the COC’s new permanent home, the Four Seasons Centre. The COC’s first performances in the new opera house were of Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen, with designs by Michael Levine and four different directors: Michael Levine (Das Rheingold), Atom Egoyan (Die Walküre), François Girard (Siegfried), and Tim Albery (Götterdämmerung).
In June 2008, Alexander Neef was named the COC’s general director, and in October 2008, Johannes Debus made his debut with COC as a conductor in a production of Prokofiev’s War and Peace, where he earned critical acclaim.In January 2009, the COC announced the appointment of Johannes Debus as the company’s music director.
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