Last night the Canadian Opera Company announced the line up for the 2017/18 season. It was all pretty much as predicted. My predictions post got five out of six right and Dylan was right on the money down to timing. So what do we get?
The fall season features, finally, Tim Albery’s production of Strauss’ Arabella first seen at Santa Fe. Erin Wall, as expected, takes the title role while Jane Archibald, in one of three season appearances, sings Zdenka. The Mandryka will be one of the few high profile imports, Tomasz Konieczny. There are welcome appearances for David Pomery as Matteo and Claire de Sevigné as Flakermilli. It’s a season full of Ensemble Studio graduates. Patrick Lange conducts. Partnering Arabella is Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore in a production by James Robinson adapted to set the piece in pre WW1 Niagara on the Lake. Simone Osborne and Andrew Haji play Adina and Nemorino with Gordon Bintner as Belcore. This is, I think, the first time I’ve seen husband and wife as soloists at the COC though the Pomeroys have been seen on stage together quite a few times. Brit Andrew Shore rounds things out as Dulcemara. Yves Abel makes his COC debut in the pit.
Winter sees a revival of Christopher Alden’s Rigoletto with Roland Wood, Anna Christy and Stephen Costello (alternating with Joshua Gurrero). Stephen Lord conducts. It’s partnered with Wajdi Mouawad’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail. It’s the production that premiered at Lyon this last summer and features rewritten dialogue. Jane Archibald is Kostanze with Claire de Sevigné as Blonde, Mauro Peter as Belmonte, Owen MCausland as Pedrillo and Goran Jurić as Osmin. Johannes Debus conducts.
In the spring we get the predicted revival of Stravinsky’s The Nightingale and Other Short Tales with Jane Archibald as the birdie. It’s a Robert Lepage production and was a box office and critical success first time around in both Toronto and New York (BAM). Also appearing are Owen McAusland, Meredith Arwardy and Christian Van Horn. Johannes Debus conducts. Finally, one that was on my radar screen but didn’t make it into my predictions list is Donizetti’s Anna Bolena with Sondra Radvanovsky completing the COC’s Tudor queens cycle. The production is by Stephen Lawless, who was responsible for the “Shakespearean” Roberto Devereux, and has previously been seen in Dallas. Eric Owens is Henry, Bruce Sledge is Percy, Keri Alkema is Giovanna Seymour and Allyson McHardy is Smeton. Corrado Rovaris conducts.
Once again there will be no Ensemble Studio production as such but a collection of scenes will be presented on May 25th.
Jane Archibald’s frequent presence is part of a newly announced”Artist in Residence” program and we can expect to see her around in various capacities during the year.
So, what to make of it? No big surprises for sure. It’s a solid but not particularly adventurous line up. A revisionist Entführung and the Alden Rigoletto might not be to the taste of ultra-conservatives but there’s nothing to really raise hackles dramatically or musically. There are a handful of A listers appearing but for the most part they are familiar enough in Toronto. Konieczny may be the biggest newcomer but he’s not exactly a household name on this side of the pond. No brilliant new Neef landings! I am surprised that the Onegin didn’t make the cut. I think the COC is missing a trick in not catering to the surprisingly large Russian (and for that matter Czech) musical audience in the city. 18/19 maybe?. It’s good to see so many Ensemble Studio graduates in major roles and not just the most recent ones.
Steady as she goes.