The COC’s 2014/15 season announced

Russell Braun as Don Giovanni - Photo Credit Javier del Real

Russell Braun as Don Giovanni – Photo Credit Javier del Real

Yesterday evening saw the announcement of the line up for the COC’s 2014/15 season.  The usual rather prosaic press conference was replaced with a glitzy reception and main stage show featuring Brent Bambury of the COC interviewing Alexander Neef, Johannes Debus and others plus piano accompanied performances by Simone Osborne, Russel Braun, Robert Gleadow, Charlotte Burrage and Aviva Fortunata.

There were few surprises, in itself no surprise given the number of official and unofficial “leaks” this time around.  There are three productions new to Toronto, all COC copros, and three revivals so it’s an “all COC” season with no rentals or other imports.  Here’s what’s coming up:

Verdi – Falstaff

This is the Robert Carsen production already seen in London, New York and on a bazillion cinema screens.  Gerald Finley sings the title role with Simone Osborne as Nanetta (no surprises there), Russell Braun is Ford, Amanda Echalaz is Alice Ford, Marie-Nicole Lemieux is Mustress Quickly.  Johannes Debus conducts.  There will be seven performances from October 3rd to November 1st 2014.

Falstaff-1332-Marie-Nicole-Lemieux-at-left-as-Mistress-Quickly-at-left-Royal-Opera-House-Covent-Garden-production-photo-credit-Catherine-AshmorePhoto credit – Catharine Ashmore

Puccini – Madama Butterfly

One of two “bums on seats” production is a revival of Brian Macdonald’s traditional but serviceable production already seen five times in Toronto since its 1990 debut.  There will be twelve performances from October 10th to 31st 2014.  Patricia Racette shares the title role with Kelly Kaduce.  Liz DeShong is Suzuki.  Pinkerton and Sharpless are also double cast with the roles being shared by Stefano Secco and Andrea Carè and Dwayne Croft and Greg Dahl.  Patrick Lang conducts.

MadamaButterfly-494-AllysonMcHardy_AdinaNitescu-COC-2009-production-credit-Michael-Cooper2Photo Credit – Michael Cooper

Mozart – Don Giovanni

This is the Tcherniakov production already on DVD and broadcast on TFO recently.  Russell Braun sings the Don with Kyle Ketelsen as Leporello and Michael Schade as Don Ottavio (yay!).  Jane Archibald is Donna Anna (also yay!) and Jennifer Holloway is Donna Elvira.  Michael Hofstetter conducts.  There are ten performances in January and February 2015.

Don-Giovanni-VIC10062721-Aix-en-Provence-production-photo-credit-Pascal-Victor-ArtcomartPhoto credit – Pascal Victor Artcomart

Wagner – Die Walküre

This is a revival of the Atom Egoyan production seen in 2004 and 2006.  Christine Goerke, as expected, sings Brünnhilde and will sing the role in Siegfried and Götterdämmerung in future seasons.  The Walsungs are Clifton Forbis and Heidi Melton and Johan Reuter will sing Wotan.  Johannes Debus conducts seven performances in January and February 2015.

Die-Walkure-33-Clifton-Forbis-as-Siegmund-COC-2006-production-photo-credit-Gary-BeecheyPhoto credit – Gary Beechey

Rossini – The Barber of Seville

The other crowd puller is a co-production from Els Comediants who created the COC’s La Cenerentola a few seasons back.  It’s been seen already in Houston and Bordeaux. Joshua Hopkins sings Figaro, Alek Shrader is Almaviva and Serena Malfi and Cecelia Hall share Rosina.  Rory Macdonald conducts thirteen performances from April 17 to May 22 2015.

Barber-of-Seville-2327-Houston-Grand-Opera-production-photo-credit-Felix-SanchezPhoto credit – Felix-Sanchez

Bartók – Blue Beard’s Castle and Schoenberg – Erwartung

Robert Lepage’s first opera production returns.  First seen at the COC in 1993, it has toured to Brooklyn, Edinburgh, Melbourne and Hong Kong and now appears at the Four Seasons Centre. John Relyea sings the Duke and Ekaterina Gubanova sings Judith.  Kristina Szabó sings the Woman in the Schoenberg.  Johannes Debus conducts seven performances in May 2015.

Erwartung-466-Nina-Warren-Pamela-Sue-Johnson-and-Noam-Markus-from-COC-2001-production-of-Erwartung-Photo-credit-Michael-CPhoto Credit – Michael Cooper

So, a 56 performance season, just one down on last year but spread across one fewer production.  I think it’s a fairly well balanced season and certainly it’s virtually risk free.  It’s good to see some high profile new names as well as returning favourites.  On the down side, I really wouldn’t care if I never saw Butterfly again, let alone in a twenty something year old revival production.  Also, the most recent works on view are over a hundred years old.  It’s really time something closer to contemporary came to the COC stage.

4 thoughts on “The COC’s 2014/15 season announced

  1. It all looks pretty safe and uninspiring. Finley as Falstaff should certainly be interesting even thought I found the production very disappointing. How this has become the world’s Falstaff is a mystery to me. In particular I thought the entire final scene was one big WTF moment. The horse is great, however. I look forward to reading your review. I have read that the Lepage double bill is very good-much better than what we have seen from him at the Met.

    • Yes. Not terribly exciting but serviceable enough. We’ve been lucky with Lepage. Not just DBC/E but the Stravinsky Nightingale that they had to schedule an extra performance to meet the demand.

  2. I thought the gala idea, rather than the traditional low-key press conference, was a great idea. Certainly the assembled guests seemed to be enjoying the proceedings and I overheard several of them gushing about the line-up (free wine helps!). Apart from the Lepage revival (a show I’ve wanted to come back for years now) nothing is really to my taste, but taking an objective viewpoint and considering the sentiments of the local gentry, I think they struck a decent balance. Unfortunately for those of us who entertain hopes that the COC will come to embrace contemporary works the structural changes to the season make this even less likely. Since we all knew that Falstaff was coming I’ve avoided seeing it broadcast from elsewhere. I’m not fond of Verdi, and the production seems unfocused, but I’ve learned to trust Robert Carsen no matter what, I think his Orfeo ed Eurydice is the best thing I’ve ever seen at the COC.

    • I liked the format too and I share your concerns about the paucity of modern/contemporary works. Unfortunately there’s still a large audience that don’t get anything post Puccini and in this climate the COC sees the need to play it safe I guess.

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