Well meh!

fscSo no big launch event to herald the COC’s 2022/23 season announcement, just an email.  I’m not surprised because if the season had been announced in front of a large crowd at the Four Seasons Centre there would probably have been a riot. There are six productions on the main stage and each gets only seven or eight performances for a total of 45 which is the lowest since the house opened.  Five of them are revivals and there’s no Parsifal.  I begin to think that I have more chance of finding the Holy Grail than ever seeing Parsifal in Toronto.

So what do we get?

From October 7th to 23rd 2022 it’s Christopher Alden’s production of Wagner’s Flying Dutchman conducted by Johannes Debus.  It’s a decent cast with Johan Reuter and Franz-Josef Selig.

It’s paired with Joel Ivany’s tweak of Bizet’s Carmen.  Casting is not especially remarkable.  Runs October 14th to November 4th.

From January 27th to February 18th 2023 it’s Claus Guth’s now venerable take on Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro with Luca Pisaroni, Gordon Bintner, Louise Alder, Johanni van Oostrum and Emily Fons.  Harry Bicket is conducting which is a plus.

From February 3rd to 24th it’s Atom Egoyan’s production of Richard Strauss’ Salome.  There’s some good news in the casting with Ambur Braid, Michael Schade and Karita Mattila all featuring.  Johannes Debus conducts.

Spring (April 28th to May 20th 2023 brings the one new production.  It’s a co-pro with Chicago of Verdi’s Macbeth.  David McVicar directs with, more genuinely good news, Speranza Scappucci conducting.  Quinn Kelsey and Sondra Radvanovsky are the royal couple.

Finally from May 5th to 27th 2023 it’s Paul Curran’s production of Puccini’s Tosca with a far from starry cast.

There are also three performances of Kye Marshal and Amanda Hale’s Pomegranate at the Canadian Opera Company Theatre; June 2nd to 4th 2023.

A premier subscription (all six shows) will set you back anything from $186 (Ring 5 Middle) to $2152 (Grand Ring) with 3 and 4 show packages also available.

Full details here.

If you haven’t figured it out by now I’m not terribly impressed.  No doubt there are financial pressures but I just don’t see this line up bringing people back to the opera house.  It seems to be an article of faith among opera company managements in Canada, certainly the COC, that the way to bring the audience back is to offer the familiar and, certainly, the unchallenging.  I am absolutely not convinced.  A bolder approach might be riskier but is suicide by a thousand cuts really the way forward?

5 thoughts on “Well meh!

  1. Maybe all they want to do this post-covid season is to get bums in the seats? I expect the “average” opera goer (big question if there is such a thing in the GTA, or anywhere) is a little less adventurous/snobby than you and I. I wonder what the state of their subscriptions is like. Subs have been down in every big house…

    But this worries me the most: “There are six productions on the main stage and each gets only seven or eight performances for a total of 45 which is the lowest since the house opened.”

    Good news: Speranza, McVicar, Ambur, Karita, the cast of that bleak Guth Figaro — and perhaps the introduction of the Imperial Oil stage as a the chamber opera space. They could, if they want to, program an entire parallel season of small works on that stage.

    Parsifal is not the only one left forever in the lurch. The Sokolovic opera AND the Girl King opera are also nowhere to be seen.

    They should have co-produced the new ENO production of Handmaid’s Tale which would have sold out here — and it did extremely well in London earlier this year.

    • Don’t disagree with any of that. It’s worrying. I am not at all convinced that 5/6 shows that almost every subscriber has seen will boost renewals. If I had to buy tickets I wouldn’t renew. I’d probably only see Macbeth and Salome. It’s got to the point where K won’t even come to COC shows with me most of the time!
      The new commissions situation is weird. I hear rumours of yet another one but they always seem to find a reason not to do them.

    • “But this worries me the most:”
      Every mainstream company in North America has this problem. The reaction in almost every case is to become more conservative. It’s the trickle down economics of opera. It doesn’t work but they do it anyway. I can only think because if, as a GD, you program a boring season and it fails it gets attributed to anything but the programming but if you do something bolder and it fails it’s your fault!

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