The Canadian Opera Company unveils its 2012-13 season of free concerts at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre

COC Ensemble Studio member Adrian Kramer sang his farewell concert at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre with accompanist Christopher Mokrzewski last May.

The most significant concert presenter in this city outside the Toronto Symphony Orchestra is Nina Draganic, the unheralded doyenne of the Canadian Opera Company’s annual 10-months of free concerts at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre.

The new season kicks off at lunchtime on Sept. 18, with a concert by the COC’s Ensemble Studio and will run its combination of classical, jazz, world and new music, dance and lecture concerts through to the end of June. Continue reading

Canadian Opera Company’s Alexander Neef cements place as country’s most important vocal impresario

Alexander Neef (Michael Cooper photo).

The Canadian Opera Company announced yesterday that it has extended its contract with general director Alexander Neef to the 2020-21 season.

This was, without a doubt, the right thing for the board to do. Continue reading

Review: Canadian Opera Company’s L’Amour de loin (Love from Afar) big on sights, short on interesting sounds

Krisztina Szabó as the Pilgrim and Russell Braun as Jaufré in L'Amour de loin (Michael Cooper photo)

The Canadian Opera Company unveiled a spectacularly beautiful new co-production of L’amour de loin (Love from Afar), a 12-year-old opera by Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho and librettist Amin Maalouf on Thursday night at the Four Seasons Centre.

There were treats for the eyes from the beginning to the end. The three-person singing cast is as spectacular as the staging. And the COC Orchestra was at its best under music director Johannes Debus.

But for all the great efforts, this two-hour, five-act voyage through an atonal, doomed long-distance love affair between a medieval troubadour and a Middle Eastern captive comes in a few high notes shy of a satisfying night at the opera. Continue reading

Toronto’s cultural dilemma: An international city in a small-minded country

There’s a grassroots revolt brewing among Toronto’s new music community over the continued absence of Canadian operas on Canadian Opera Company’s seasons. It’s been 13 seasons and counting since there’s been a Canadian work on its mainstage, and that’s beginning to rankle. Continue reading