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canadian opera company

The Canadian Opera Company’s Lucia di Lammermoor is a Gothic Tragedy

Canadian Opera Company Lucia di Lammermoor Toronto Anna Christy

Anna Christy stars in the Canadian Opera Company’s Lucia di Lammermoor (photo: Clive Barda)

APRIL 17 TO MAY 24  Powerful feuds, doomed love affairs and shocking confessions—when it comes to drama, Lucia di Lammermoor has it all. The Canadian Opera Company staging of Donizetti’s most famous bel canto work promises romance and tragedy thanks to a marquee performance by American soprano Anna Christy, whose portrayal of Lucia is fragile yet imbued with considerable vocal force. Direction by David Alden takes the gothic masterpiece, based on a novel by Sir Walter Scott, to a whole new level of intensity. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, $23 to $325; call 416-363-8231 or see coc.ca for showtimes and to buy.  —Anna Marszalek

Heads Will Roll in the Canadian Opera Company’s Salome

Canadian Opera Company Salome Atom Egoyan Toronto

The Canadian Opera Company’s production of Salome is directed by Atom Egoyan (photo: Canadian Opera Company)

APRIL 21 TO MAY 22  A tragedy of biblical proportions plays out as the princess of Judea lusts after a kiss from John the Baptist in the Canadian Opera Company production of Salome. Adapted from the Oscar Wilde play—and original Richard Strauss opera—by Toronto-based auteur Atom Egoyan, this searing show explores themes of eroticism, jealousy and obsession as its characters scheme, seduce and, ultimately, lose their heads. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, $22 to $325; call 416-363-8231 or visit coc.ca for showtimes and tickets.  —Macrina Smart

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

Hot Date: Take the Kids to the COC’s GrimmFest

A Scene from Dean Burry’s The Brothers Grimm (photo: Anand Maharaj)

DECEMBER 4 TO 8  Once upon a time there were two siblings who collected stories of evil stepmothers and big bad wolves. At least that’s how Dean Burry tells it in The Brothers Grimm, his one-act children’s opera about the pair who brought us the fables of Rapunzel, Cinderella and more. Burry’s work is just one of the highlights of GrimmFest, the Canadian Opera Company’s celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Brothers’ famous tales. The family-friendly event also includes COC artists singing Grimm-inspired arias, and Juno winner Maryem Tollar recounting legends from Arabic, African and Gypsy cultures. Various venues, The Brothers Grimm tickets $15 to $25, all other shows free; call 416-363-8231 or click here for further details.  —Eva Voinigescu

Weekend Roundup: September 28 to 30

Friday: Louis C.K. headlines JFL42

Friday, September 28
Fresh off of winning multiple Emmy Awards, Louis C.K. rolls in to Toronto to headline Just For Laughs’ JFL 42 festival. The comedy superstar will be performing brand new material at the Sony Centre for a packed house of eager fans.

Don’t miss tonight’s Canadian premiere of director Abdallah Omeish’s award-winning documentary The War Around Us, which opens the Toronto Palestine Film Festival. Alongside film debuts, the ongoing celebration of Palestinian culture also showcases poetry, music, cuisine and art.

Kim Dorland, one of Toronto’s most exciting contemporary artists, returns to Angell Gallery for a solo exhibition entitled I’m An Adult Now. Dorland’s new works may be his most intimate to date—the abstracted figurative paintings depict the artist and his family amid warm-hued wilderness landscapes. (more…)

Hot Date: The Canadian Opera Company Serves Up Revenge

(photo by Christian Dresse)

SEPTEMBER 29 TO OCTOBER 31  A new season for the Canadian Opera Company begins with the emotional wallop of Verdi’s searing Il Trovatore. A tortuous drama about vengeful gypsy Azucena and her son Manrico’s affair with a noblewoman—and his resulting rivalry with a powerful count—this is one of the most celebrated  Romantic-era operas in the Italian canon. The COC’s version, using an acclaimed production by the Opéra de Marseille, features Mexican tenor Ramón Vargas in his debut as Manrico. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, $45 to $325; call 416-363-8231 or visit here for tickets and times.

Hot Date: Semele at the Canadian Opera Company

photo by Karl Forster

MAY 9 TO 26 The Canadian Opera Company brings its 2011-12 season to a dramatic close with Handel’s Semele, the story of a mortal woman who falls in love with the god Jupiter, but in doing so enrages his cunning and powerful wife, Juno. Director Zhang Huan weaves Greco-Roman and Eastern mythology in this visually stunning production featuring ornate and vibrant costumes and grandiose set design, the centrepiece of which is a real, 450-year-old Ming Dynasty temple. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, $12 to $318; call 416-363-8231 or visit here for showtimes and tickets.

Hot Date: The COC’s Hoffman Regales

photo by Kurt van der Elst

APRIL 10 TO MAY 15 “A poet walks into a bar”—it’s a line that might open a hackneyed joke, but serves far better as the premise of Jacques Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffman, a virtuosic ode to Gothic-Romantic writer E.T.A. Hoffman. Offenbachs’s final, incomplete work is considered one of his most famous, a rumination on lost loves, times past, and the stranglehold of an artist’s creative muse. The Canadian Opera Company production of this brooding, passionate work is not to be missed. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, $45 to $318; call 416-363-8231 or visit here for showtimes and tickets.

Weekend Roundup: February 17 to 19

Friday: Only a few shows remain for Cruel and Tender (photo by Bruce Zinger)

Friday, February 17
Don’t miss one of your final opportunities to see Atom Egoyan’s return to his theatre roots as he directs his wife, Arsinee Khanjian, in Martin Crimp’s tour-de-force Cruel and Tender. This drama, which contrasts private battles and public wars, is on stage at the Bluma Appel Theatre until February 18.

Independent music showcase Wavelength celebrates its 12th anniversary with a four-night extravaganza of the newest and brightest in pop, rock and electronic music. Tonight’s lineup features Toronto’s own critically lauded hardcore band F*cked Up.

Virtuosic pianist Leon Fleisher commands the attention of the audience at Koerner Hall, as he and the Royal Conservatory Orchestra perform a bold selection of works by such masters as Ravel, Beethoven and Prokofiev.

Bonus Pick! Make your way to Indigo’s Manulife Centre location tonight to hear newly minted Giller Prize winner Esi Edugyan discuss her acclaimed novel, Half-Blood Blues, with the Globe and Mail‘s Sandra Martin. (more…)

Hot Date: Admire the COC’s Love From Afar

FEBRUARY 2 TO 22 A 12th-century love story gets a 21st-century makeover when director Daniele Finzi Pasca brings his striking visual style to Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho’s opera, Love from Afar. The Canadian Opera Company presents this story of a world-weary medieval troubadour from France who sets sail to find the Countess of Tripoli, his vision of ideal love. Baritone Russell Braun plays the troubadour Jaufré, while Erin Wall makes her COC debut as the object of his desire, Clémence. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, $12 to $318; for showtimes and tickets, call 416-363-8231 or click here.

Weekend Roundup: January 20 to 22

Friday: Clarinetist James Campbell performs with Sinfonia Toronto (photo by Tim Leyes)

Friday, January 20
Start your weekend with a touch of class at Sinfonia Toronto’s Black and White performance at the Glenn Gould Studio. Featuring the talents of Canadian clarinetist James Campbell and Russian pianist Dmitry Gordin, the recital—of chamber works by Shostakovich and Mozart—promises to weave these two exquisite soloists together in a musical dialogue you won’t soon forget.

You won’t be able to sit still as Harbourfront Centre reprises its Dance Ontario Weekend, a three-day extravaganza with dozens of local dancers, choreographers and musicians. Enjoy a heart-pounding spectrum of musical styles—from ballet, to flamenco, to Middle Eastern—both live and on film.

Our beloved Sesame Street muppets are all grown up, and foul-mouthed to boot. Tony Award-winning Avenue Q, the riotous coming-of-age musical comes to the Lower Ossington Theatre, and explores coming-of-age anxieties through such tongue-in-cheek numbers as “What Do You Do With a B.A. in English?” and “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist.”


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.