LSM Newswire

Monday, December 7, 2009

Seductive, Sultry Carmen Heats Up the COC'S 2009/10 Winter Season

Toronto, Ontario – The Canadian Opera Company’s Diamond Anniversary winter season opens with a COC revival of one of the world’s most famous operas, Georges Bizet’s Carmen. A masterpiece of lyric theatre, Carmen is a highly charged melodrama about an irresistible gypsy and her seduction of a young soldier. Leading the cast is renowned mezzo-soprano Beth Clayton, known for her powerful and convincing portrayal of the seductive Carmen, and tenor Bryan Hymel as Don José, the object of Carmen’s desire. Mr. Hymel received rave reviews for his role as Pinkerton in this season’s Madama Butterfly. Carmen is a co-production with Opéra de Montréal and San Diego Opera, and runs for 12 performances, January 27, 30, February 2, 5, 7, 9, 11, 14, 17, 20, 23, and 27, 2010 and is sung in French with English SURTITLES™.

American Beth Clayton, who has sung Carmen with New York City Opera and Los Angeles Opera, received critical acclaim for her depiction of the alluring temptress. She returns to the COC after making her company debut in the 1998 production of The Cunning Little Vixen. American tenor Bryan Hymel shares the role of Don José with Garrett Sorenson (February 23 and 27). Micaëla, the young peasant girl in love with Don José, is sung by former Ensemble Studio soprano Jessica Muirhead, who sang the role of Donna Anna in the COC’s 2008 production of Don Giovanni. French bass-baritone Paul Gay, a favourite in European opera houses, makes his COC debut singing Escamillo, the matador smitten with Carmen. Former COC Ensemble Studio members also join the cast: bass Alain Coulombe is Zuniga, mezzo-soprano Lauren Segal is Mercédès, baritone

Alexander Hajek is Moralès, and baritone Justin Welsh is Le Dancaïre. Rounding out the cast are current Ensemble Studio members, sopranos Teiya Kasahara and Simone Osborne who share the role of Frasquita, and tenor Adam Luther sings the role of Le Remendado.

British conductor Rory Macdonald leads the COC Orchestra, Chorus and Canadian Children’s Opera Company. He is joined by Australian director Justin Way, who has worked with numerous opera houses worldwide including the Royal Opera House, Opera Australia, and Washington National Opera. Having previously collaborated at Glyndebourne Festival Opera, they reunite to make their COC debuts. The set is by award-winning designer Michael Yeargan, with lighting by Aaron Black. Canadian François St-Aubin designs the rich and colourful costumes.

Based on the novella Carmen by French author Prosper Mérimée, Bizet’s Carmen was condemned by the press at its premiere in Paris in 1875 as too immoral to stage. Carmen marked the first time in opera that a female character could flout morality and still remain the heroine of the work. It quickly became one of the most produced operas in the world, with 142 productions in the last 10 years being mounted in North America alone. The COC last performed Carmen in 2005.

TICKET INFORMATION

Tickets for Carmen are available online at coc.ca, by calling 416-363-8231, or in person at the Four Seasons Centre Box Office (145 Queen St. W., Toronto). Ticket prices for Carmen range from $68 to $216 with Grand Ring (box level) seat tickets available from $260 to $321. Special young people’s tickets are priced from $34 to $108. These ticket prices apply to those who are 15 years of age or under, accompanied by and sitting next to an adult.

Starting Saturday, January 16, 2010 at 10 a.m., $20 tickets are available for patrons between the ages of 16 and 29 through the Opera for a New Age program presented by TD Bank Financial Group. Special dinner packages are also available.

Carmen Production Co-sponsors: CIBC and CIBC Mellon

Presenting Sponsor of SURTITLESä: Sun Life Financial

Official Automotive Sponsor of the COC at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts:

Jaguar Land Rover Canada

Broadcast Partner: CBC Radio 2

Official Media Sponsors: CTV and The Globe and Mail

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 supported by the Government of Canada through the Department of Canadian Heritage, RBC Financial Group, and other generous donors.

COC ANCILLARY EVENTS AND INFORMATION:

BMO Financial Group Pre-Performance Opera Chats

The COC offers free 20-minute introductions to the opera and its theme in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, 45 minutes prior to every performance.

“Red Hot Bite”: Carmen

The Canadian Opera Company presents opera and a “bite” – an evening of cultural and culinary arts designed for young people under 30 who are new to opera. Held on Friday, February 5, 2010, patrons enjoy Carmen followed by a post-performance tapas and meet-and-greet with a member of the cast at Tundra Restaurant for one low, inclusive price.


Canadian Opera Company Podcast Series

The Canadian Opera Company and Universal Music present a FREE podcast series that explores the depths of music in opera. Podcasts are available for download or streaming on coc.ca or through Universal Music at getmusic.ca/classical. Carmen-themed podcasts are also available. These entertaining programs are designed to give listeners a chance to learn about opera, COC productions, and hear interviews from the artists and creative team. Throughout the year, listeners can tune in to hear music from the COC’s 2009/10 season, as well as discussions with special artists. Each podcast is created and hosted by COC personnel.

THE COC’S 2009/10 WINTER SEASON CONTINUES WITH VERDI’S TRAGic TALE OF OBSESSION AND JEALOUSY: OTELLO

Toronto, Ontario The Canadian Opera Company’s 2009/10 winter season continues with one of the greatest tragic operas of all time, Giuseppe Verdi’s Otello, starring renowned American tenor Clifton Forbis. This powerful production is directed by Paul Curran (Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, Tosca) and conducted by Paolo Olmi (Don Carlos). Otello is a new COC co-production with Welsh National Opera and runs February 3, 6, 10, 13, 16, 19, 22, 25 and 28, 2010 and is sung in Italian with English SURTITLES™.

Based on Shakespeare’s, Othello, Verdi’s opera matches (and some scholars contend, exceeds) the play in emotional complexity and passion. Otello, a former slave who rises to the rank of general and finds love with his devoted wife, Desdemona, is ultimately destroyed by all-consuming obsession and jealousy fueled by his evil lieutenant, Iago. Leading the cast to performs Verdi’s most demanding tenor role is Clifton Forbis. Last with the COC as Siegmund in the critically-acclaimed Ring Cycle,

Mr. Forbis recently sang Otello for Dallas Opera’s inaugural production in its new Winspear Opera House. Iago is sung by American baritone Scott Hendricks, who last appeared with the COC in the 2007 production of Don Carlos, and will sing the lead in Macbeth with Théâtre Royale de la Monnaie in Brussels in June 2010. Italian soprano Tiziana Caruso makes her Canadian operatic debut as Desdemona. Her recent credits include Aida with Baltimore Opera and Teatro Verdi Trieste. Italian tenor Emanuele D’Aguanno as Otello’s friend, Cassio, makes his debut with the company, as does American mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton as Emilia, Iago’s wife. Rounding out the cast is Russian bass Yuri Vorobiev as Lodovico, Ensemble tenor Adam Luther as Roderigo, and Ensemble graduates, bass Alain Coulombe as Montano and baritone Justin Welsh as a Herald.

Otello welcomes back COC favourites off stage as well. Director Paul Curran, Norwegian Opera’s new artistic director, returns after the 2007 award-winning production of Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk and 2008’s dramatic Tosca. Conductor Paolo Olmi leads the COC Orchestra, Chorus and Canadian Children’s Opera Chorus for the first time since his company debut with Don Carlos in 2007. Also returning is lighting designer David Martin Jacques, who worked with Mr. Curran on Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk and Tosca. Australian set and costume designer Paul Edwards makes his COC debut using rich and vibrant colours to create Otello’s opulent world.

Otello was one of three operas Verdi composed based on Shakespearian plays, and is considered by many to be his greatest. Verdi composed Otello, with a libretto by Arrigo Boito, after a 15-year break following Aida in 1871, and it premiered at La Scala, Milan, in 1887 to tremendous acclaim. He composed only one more opera during his lifetime, Falstaff, also based on a Shakespearean play. These last two works are his towering achievements in the tragic and comic operatic repertoire.

TICKET INFORMATION

Tickets for Otello are available online at coc.ca, by calling 416-363-8231, or in person at the Four Seasons Centre Box Office (145 Queen St. W., Toronto). Ticket prices for Otello range from $62 to $292. Special young people’s tickets are priced from $31 to $98.50. These ticket prices apply to those who are 15 years of age or under, accompanied by and sitting next to an adult.

Starting Saturday, January 16, 2010 at 10 a.m., $20 tickets are available for patrons between the ages of 16 and 29 through the Opera for a New Age program presented by TD Bank Financial Group, and may be purchased online at coc.ca or in person at the Four Seasons Centre Box Office (145 Queen St. W., Toronto). Student group tickets are $20 per student and may be purchased by calling 416-306-2356. Remaining Opera for a New Age tickets will be released as $20 rush seats at 11 a.m. the morning of the performance, subject to availability.

Otello Production Sponsor: National Bank Financial Group

Presenting Sponsor of SURTITLESä: Sun Life Financial

Official Automotive Sponsor of the COC at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts:

Jaguar Land Rover Canada

Broadcast Partner: CBC Radio 2

Official Media Sponsors: CTV and The Globe and Mail

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 supported by the Government of Canada through the Department of Canadian Heritage, RBC, and generous individual donors.

COC ANCILLARY EVENTS AND INFORMATION:

BMO Financial Group Pre-Performance Opera Chats

The COC offers free 20-minute introductions to the opera and its theme in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, 45 minutes prior to every performance.

Opera 101: Otello
The Canadian Opera Company’s popular FREE series, Opera 101, takes an enthusiastic look at the COC’s production of Verdi’s Otello, on Tuesday, January 12, 2010 at 7:30 p.m. This session of

Opera 101 includes a question-and-answer period with members of the cast and creative team, and is hosted by Brent Bambury from CBC Radio’s GO! Held in the eclectic Drake Hotel, (1150 Queen St. W.) the event is designed to demystify opera by outlining the different aspects of the art form. Opera 101 is a friendly and interactive event designed for people new to opera.

The Opera Exchange
The Canadian Opera Company, in collaboration with the Jackman Humanities Institute, the Munk Centre for International Studies, and the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto, presents the second instalment of the Opera Exchange series: Staging Jealousy: Shakespeare’s Othello and Verdi’s Otello held on Saturday, February 6, 2010 from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Opera Exchange series takes place at Walter Hall, Edward Johnson Building, The Faculty of Music, 80 Queen’s Park (at Museum subway station). Tickets are available by calling 416-363-8231, online at coc.ca, or in person at the Four Seasons Centre Box Office (145 Queen St. W., Toronto). Discounts are available for faculty and students (with a valid faculty/student ID).

Canadian Opera Company Podcast Series

The Canadian Opera Company and Universal Music present a FREE podcast series that explores the depths of music in opera. Podcasts are available for download or streaming on coc.ca. Otello-themed podcasts are also available. These entertaining programs are designed to give listeners a chance to learn about opera, COC productions, and hear interviews from the artists and creative team. Throughout the year, listeners can tune in to hear music from the COC’s 2009/10 season, as well as discussions with special artists. Each podcast is created and hosted by COC personnel.

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