Ensemble Studio Competition 2019

The Ensemble Studio Competition again last night.  Seven singers were competing with Ben Heppner’s jokes for cash prizes, champagne and, possibly, a place in the COC Ensemble Studio.  There’s one thing I think is vital to understand about the Ensemble Studio Competition.  The judges have been working with the singers for a week.  The audience gets to hear them sing one aria.  It’s easy to see why there isn’t always concurrence between the hall and the judging table.  (That’s my excuse anyway).

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The contestants with Alexander Neef and Johannes Debus

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Rusalka – Dream or Nightmare?

David McVicar’s production of Dvořák’s Rusalka opens with a prelude while the overture plays.  We see the Foreign Princess and the Prince.  She appears to be upbraiding him and he is drinking hard.  Are we seeing a failed/forced marriage that in reality the Prince made rather than some preferred alternative?  Is what we see over the next three and half hours some dream version of what might have been?  In this most Freudian of operas, why not?

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Centre Stage line up

The Canadian Opera Company’s ninth annual Ensemble Studio Competition is being held on October 30, 2019 at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. The 2019  finalists are: sopranos Kirsten LeBlanc (Moncton, NB), Midori Marsh (Cleveland, Ohio), and Charlotte Siegel (Toronto, ON); mezzo-soprano Sarah Bissonnette (Boucherville, QC); tenor Marcel d’Entremont (Merigomish, NS); bass-baritone Alex Halliday (St. John’s, NL); and bass Brenden Friesen (Langham, SK).

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What’s on in October

rusalka-1-1I can’t believe an October preview post already.  But here it is.  So what’s on?  Against the Grain’s Opera Pub kicks off again on the 5th at the Amsterdam Bicycle Club.  It’s the usual 9pm start but come really early if you want a table.  The 10th to the 12th sees Amplified Opera’s series of three shows at the Ernest Balmer Studio.  The 11th is the first Toronto date for Against the Grain’s La Bohème tour.  That’s 7.30pm at the Tranzac.  Other dates and other city information here.  The 12th is opening night for Dvořák’s Rusalka at the COC.  Full details on dates, cast, tickets etc here.  On the 19th UoT’s Early Music programme are doing Handel’s Acis and Galatea at the Heliconian Club at 2pm.

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Looking ahead to September

September starts the slow ramp up to the new season.  The first thing in my calendar is Mysterious Barricades on September 14th from 1pm to 2pm in Walter Hall.  This is a series of coast to coast, dawn to dusk concerts in aid of Suicide Awareness.  Russell Braun, Monica Whicher and Nathalie Paulin are all involved.  It’s free but ticketed.  Check the link for details.

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