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Ben Heppner

The Canadian Opera Company’s Tristan und Isolde is a Modern Knight’s Tale

Canadian Opera Company's Tristan und Isolde

Bill Viola created video backdrops for the Canadian Opera Company’s performance of Tristan und Isolde

JANUARY 29 TO FEBRUARY 23  A love potion disguised as poison is the catalyst of Tristan und Isolde, a story of passion and betrayal staged by the Canadian Opera Company. Famed director Peter Sellars brings a unique contemporary vision—incorporating dramatic video backdrops by Bill Viola—to Wagner’s adaption of the medieval fable of a knight and a maiden who fall in love despite her betrothal to a powerful king. The big-ticket production also features celebrated Canadian tenor Ben Heppner singing the role of Tristan. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, $54 to $390; call 416-363-8231 or visit coc.ca for showtimes and to purchase tickets.  Eva Voinigescu

Save the Date: the Canadian Opera Company’s 2012/13 Season

The Four Seasons Centre is sure to fill up for the COC's seven 2012/13 productions

The title of this post is a little misleading. In actual fact, we encourage you to save multiple dates—the Canadian Opera Company this morning announced its 2012/13 season lineup of seven classic and modern works. With so many big-name Canadian singers and directors headlining the program, we can no doubt look forward to an amazing few months of drama and music.

Giuseppe Verdi’s Il Trovatore kicks off the season at the Four Seasons Centre on September 29. The story of a vengeful gypsy and her son’s romance with a noblewoman has captivated audiences for more than 150 years—the COC’s production is likely to continue that trend. In particular we’re counting on a fiery appearance by Mexican tenor Ramón Vargas in the lead role of Manrico.

Later, look for arguably Canada’s most famous opera singer, Ben Heppner, when he performs his signature role in Wagner’s grandiose saga Tristan und Isolde. The company’s first show for a shiny new 2013 (opening January 29), it’s conducted by celebrated Czech maestro Jiri Belohlavek and helmed by world-renowed director Peter Sellars, whose incorporation of imagery by video artist Bill Viola makes this staging truly contemporary.

Speaking of acclaimed directors, following on the heels of his theatrical work for the Canadian Stage Company’s Cruel and Tender (on now), Atom Egoyan takes another break from film with an adaptation of Salome (opening April 21, 2013) Richard Strauss’s one-act opera based on Oscar Wilde’s play of the same name.

The best is perhaps saved for last when the COC’s 63rd season wraps up in May 2013 with Francis Poulenc’s haunting Dialogues des Carmelites, said to contain one of opera’s most devastating yet memorable finales. Toronto-born, internationally celebrated director Robert Carsen returns to the Four Seasons Centre for a third consecutive year (his recent productions of Orfeo ed Euridice and Iphigenia in Tauris were hailed by critics and audiences alike). The bar is raised even higher thanks to a cast that includes a marquee pair of Canadian sopranos, Isabel Bayrakdarian and Adrianne Pieczonka.