Following a decade of declining ticket sales and revenue the Canadian Opera Company has decided that the logical step is to go in search of a new audience. As General Director Alexander Neef puts it “We’ve tried everything in the playbook to build a new audience in Toronto; discounts for seniors, discounts for under 30s, community outreach, the lot and nothing has really worked so the board decided that if the audience won’t come to us, we must go to the audience. So we are moving lock, stock and barrel to Frankfurt. There’s a great audience there, as well as most of our singers. Besides it’s not like we will no longer be accessible to our existing audience. Air Canada has three direct flights per day from Pearson to our new home.”
The Canadian Opera Company released its annual report and accounts for 2016/17 last night. The big news was the extension of General Director Alexander Neef’s tenure to the end of the 2025/26 season. The financial news was basically “same old same old”. Ticket sales once again showed a small decline which was compensated for by record fundraising performance to yield, essentially, a break even.
The Christina and Louis Quilico Awards are a singing competition for members of the COC’s Ensemble Studio. This year’s edition took place early yesterday evening in the RBA. Only five members of the Ensemble Studio were competing. Megan Quick and Sam Pickett were not for reasons that I don’t think were announced and Aaron Sheppard was sick. So it was a pretty brief affair. The format as usual was that each contestant offered three arias and got to sing the one of their choice with the judges choosing which of the other two they should sing.
Observers of the Toronto opera scene will have noted the creeping influence of facial hair in the industry locally. Perhaps it didn’t start with COC General Director Alexander Neef’s intellectually Germanic goatee but who could deny that it had a profound impact. Earlier this week the four tenors of the Ensemble Studio appeared together sporting face rugs in varying stages of development and the scene is replete with other notable beardies. Geoff Sirett, Robert Gleadow, Greg Finney and Alexander Dobson come to mind. It’s almost compulsory, it seems, for baritones. Continue reading →
It’s the logical follow up to Alexander Neef’s speech on the opening night of The Marriage of Figaro run. The COC has announced the creation of Opera Access for New Canadians, a community outreach and engagement initiative. It will offer newcomers to Canada, including immigrants and refugees, and new Canadian citizens access to dress rehearsals and selected performances. The first phase begins this spring with the COC joining the Institute for Canadian Citizenship’s Cultural Access Pass (CAP) program, which offers new Canadian citizens one year of complimentary admission to more than 1,200 cultural attractions across the country. (There are 1,200 cultural attractions in Canada, who knew?) Continue reading →
Last night was the “event” at which the COC brass and guests, with a bit of help from Brent Bambury, announced the upcoming season to a packed house of subscribers and friends. What struck me was how much news was packed in. It was far more than the usual schedule presentation with announcements of several major new projects. But first the season. Continue reading →
The Canadian Opera Company has announced the addition of three singers and a pianist to the Ensemble Studio for next season. The singers, unsurprisingly, are the three prize winners from November’s Centre Stage; Soprano Karine Boucher, tenor Jean-Philippe Fortier-Lazure and bass-baritone Iain MacNeil, The pianist is Jennifer Szeto. The COC also announced the setting up of an orchestral equivalent of the Ensemble Studio in which a number of young musicians will work with Johannes Debus and the COC Orchestra. Names were announced on Wedneday night but I can’t find them in any of the press releases. Continue reading →