LSM Newswire

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Canadian Opera Company's 2009/2010 Season Closes With a 98% Attendance and Single Ticket Record

Toronto, Ontario – The Canadian Opera Company is pleased to announce that its 2009/2010 season closed with an average attendance of 98% and a record 49,428 single tickets sold – the highest number in COC history for a regular subscription season. Single tickets sold totalled over $3.9 million, while subscription tickets totalled 86,050 with gross revenue of $8.7 million, generating a total ticket-related revenue of almost $12.94 million for the entire season. The 2009/2010 season saw 10,146 of those tickets sold to people under 30 through the company’s popular Opera for a New Age (OFNA) program, presented by TD Bank Financial Group.

In total, 137,000 patrons attended 69 performances of the COC’s seven mainstage productions in the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts: Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, Stravinsky’s The Nightingale and Other Short Fables, Bizet’sCarmen, Verdi’s Otello, Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman, Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda, and Mozart’s Idomeneo.

“The COC had a wonderful season with extremely high attendance levels, proving that the power of opera and the enthusiasm of the public endures despite challenging economic times,” says General Director Alexander Neef. “Those challenges remind us how lucky we are to have the never faltering support and dedication of our patrons, subscribers and generous donors.”

In 2009/2010, for the first time in almost 20 years, the COC’s entire mainstage season was recorded for broadcast across Canada on CBC Radio 2. The COC reached an agreement with the artists of the company and the various unions and associations in the fall of 2009 to record all seven operas, and act as producer of the broadcasts. In conjunction with the COC’s Broadcast Partner, CBC Radio 2, each opera will be aired nationally on CBC Radio 2’s Saturday Afternoon at the Opera and Radio-Canada’s Espace Musique.

The 2009/2010 season also received a total of 14 Dora Mavor Moore nominations (presented by the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts): three for The Nightingale and Other Short Fables, seven for The Flying Dutchman, and four for Maria Stuarda. All three productions were nominated for Outstanding Opera Production.

Success was also seen beyond the mainstage, where the COC presented a variety of activities and events aimed at opera enthusiasts new and old, and engaged local patrons and tourists in new and exciting entertainment opportunities.

During the 2009/2010 season, nearly 16,000 people of all ages and backgrounds enjoyed 78 free events as part of the Free Concert Series in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre. The Free Concert Series, which features diverse programming from classical and jazz concerts to world music events and contemporary dance performances, featured one world premiere, highlighted over 600 artists – almost 590 of them Canadian – and presented 35 works by Canadian composers. The full2010/2011 performance schedule will be available later this summer at

The COC’s 2009/2010 fundraising events netted over $368,000 thanks to the generosity of its loyal donors and supporters. Operanation 6, the COC’s fundraising bash for young urban professionals, presented by TD Bank Financial Group, was held at the Four Seasons Centre on February 24, 2010. Eight hundred guests danced, dined and celebratedthe essence of Bizet’s beloved opera, Carmen, and raised $80,000. On April 15, 2010 the 11th Annual Fine Wine Auction returned to Crush Wine Bar and Restaurant, where wine enthusiasts and novices helped to raise a record of$118,000 by bidding on a collection of exquisite and hard-to-find wines from private cellars. On June 7, 2010, 120 golfers teed-off at the 16th annual Opera Golf Classic, presented by BMO Capital Markets and BMO Nesbitt Burns, at the Scarboro Golf and Country Club and raised over $180,000.

Patrons and enthusiasts, looking for up-to-the-minute news, can follow and connect with the COC via Facebook and Twitter and get a sneak peek into future seasons via COC General Director Alexander Neef’s popular blog. They can also sign-up for eOpera, the COC’s monthly e-newsletter that is sent straight to their inbox.

Earlier this year, the COC’s website,, was awarded the 2009 Outstanding Achievement in Web Development in the category of Arts Standard of Excellence, Non-Profit Standard of Excellence by The Web Marketing Association. The site includes new and exciting interactive features and content designed to engage seasoned as well as new opera fans to everything COC-related such as the COC’s podcast series, fun quizzes and polls, a glossary of operatic terms, a journey through the COC production archives with a magical behind-the-scenes look at the making of the COC’s Madama Butterfly, or an interactive COC historical timeline highlighting company milestones with commemorative photos, posters, interviews and audio and video excerpts. The COC’s website was developed in partnership with the COC’s digital marketing sponsor,Delvinia Interactive, and is supported by the Department of Canadian Heritage.

In 2009/2010, the Xstrata Ensemble Studio School Tour introduced opera to almost 15,000 children from kindergarten to Grade 6 across Ontario with performances of Gioacchino Rossini’s The Barber of Seville and a new production of Cinderellausing music from Rossini and Massenet’s operas. As title sponsor of the tour, Xstrata Nickel recently won a Business for the Arts Award for Most Innovative Marketing Sponsorship. In the GTA, the COC’s popular After School Opera Programprovided close to 400 children ages seven to 12 with creative and entertaining after-school activities emphasizing the core elements that make up opera. In July 2010, the COC’s two week-long Summer Opera Camp will take place at the Joey and Toby Tanenbaum Opera Centre. Youth ages seven to 12 will enjoy daily music and drama sessions, as well as design and movement workshops.

Over 450 young adults enjoyed Opera 101, the popular and free series geared toward opera novices held at the eclectic Drake Hotel. Again hosted by CBC Radio’s Brent Bambury, Opera 101 took an informal and entertaining look at The Nightingale and Other Short Fables with special guests director Robert Lepage, conductor Jonathan Darlington and bass Robert Pomakov; Verdi’s Otello with COC concertmaster Marie Bérard and General Director Alexander Neef; and The Flying Dutchman with conductor and COC Music Director Johannes Debus and director Christopher Alden.

Opera aficionados took an in-depth look at some of the 2009/2010 season’s operas including The Nightingale and Other Short Fables, Otello and The Flying Dutchman with the Opera Exchange. Led by an array of academic specialists and members of the COC’s creative teams, the Opera Exchange is presented in partnership with the Jackman Humanities Institute, the Munk Centre for International Studies and the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto.

The COC’s “Bite” series also returned to offer young people under 30 a special opera-inspired dinner and informative lecture at one of Toronto’s award-winning restaurants followed by an opera performance at the Four Seasons Centre all for one low, inclusive price. This year’s program included “Red Hot Bite” for Carmen at Tundra Restaurant and “Fate Bites” forIdomeneo held at Vertical Restaurant.

The COC offered public and private Guided Tours of Canada’s only purpose-built opera house, the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, which over 600 people attended. The tours are open to the general public and are $7 for adults, $5 for students and seniors, and are free for children 12 and under. For more information, call the COC Box Office at 416-363-8231.

Finally, on May 19, 2010 the COC announced the installation of two honeybee hives on the roof of the Four Seasons Centre. With the help of amateur beekeeper Fred Davis, the COC joins a small but growing number of urban spaces in Toronto with honeybee colonies on its property which will help diversify the types of species of bees and plants that currently exist in the area and lend to the bee population’s overall growth and strengthening. The two bee hives can be seen from a glass door located on Ring 4 in the Isadore and Rosalie Sharp City Room of the Four Seasons Centre, and are not accessible to the public.

The COC’s 2010/2011 season begins with productions of Verdi’s Aida on October 2, 2010 and Britten’s Death in Venice onOctober 16, 2010 and a special recital concert featuring famous Canadian tenor Ben Heppner on September 11, 2010 at 4:30 p.m. The COC’s popular Free Concert Series returns on September 21, 2010 at noon with an introductory concert by the young artists from the Canadian Opera Company’s Ensemble Studio. The full 2010/2011 performance schedule is available at


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