We had a fabulous success with the opening of Orfeo yesterday afternoon. It's impossible to choose between children, but this might well be the strongest and most beautiful production I've seen on our stage since The Nightingale. I'm glad that it is only the first of many collaborations with director Robert Carsen and can't wait for the fall when we will continue our mini-exploration of Gluck's operas with his production of Iphigénie en Tauride. Conductor Harry Bicket, in his third production with the COC, truly has become a member of our family by now, getting our orchestra to play like a true baroque band, on modern instruments! He's already booked for another project in the future and I hope there will be many more. And when have you heard our great chorus (led by the amazing Sandra Horst) sound better? The last opening of the season couldn't have been better.
We also had a special visitor over the weekend, Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho. Her first opera L'amour de loin is on our schedule for next season. She was in town for the Toronto premieres of two of her works at the TSO, an amazing concert with Karita Mattila and Ansi Karttunen as soloists, conducted by Hanno Lintu, a quadruple triumph for Finnish music and artists. My family and I spent the day with Kaija whom I've known since my very first beginnings in opera eleven years ago. She's a very special person and one of the great composers of our time. I look forward to having her back next year.
Posted by Alexander Neef / in Orfeo ed Euridice / comments (4) / permalink
Yesterday evening, one of the Toronto families that belong to the group of the COC's most longstanding supporters opened their home for us to host the launch of an exciting new membership initiative. The COC Ensemble Circle (EC) is our brand new and long overdue program for younger patrons. A few months ago we decided to create the EC in order to establish a stronger connection between our younger audience and the Company. The membership will include three operas, a ticket for our annual fundraiser Operanation and a number of special events throughout the year.
Working on establishing the EC over the past few months has been an extremely gratifying experience. The level of enthusiasm and commitment to the COC from our EC Committee, consisting of members with the most diverse backgrounds, has been fantastic. I'm very grateful for all your support and looking back at the success of last night's launch party I am sure the EC will be an amazing experience for everybody involved. The EC has the potential to become a great group of ambassadors for the relevance of opera and the COC. Exciting times ahead.
A very big thanks has to go to our special agents Ambur Braid and Wallis Giunta (and their great accompanists Akki Mackay, bass, and Patrick Power, guitar) who, with their smashing performance at yesterday's party, once more extinguished any doubt of opera being anything else but the most contemporary of art forms. You're amazing ambassadors of the COC and our art form as well.
On a different note I'm on twitter since yesterday as well. Follow me @alexanderncoc.
Posted by Alexander Neef / in Ensemble Circle / comments (0) / permalink
One of the biggest dangers in our business is that singers can get sick and aren't able to perform. This is what happened to Adrianne Pieczonka, our Ariadne. Half way through the dress rehearsal on Wednesday she had to cancel and the virus she caught was so persistent that yesterday at 8:30am she called in sick for the opening of Ariadne auf Naxos as well. It is particularly disappointing for a singer not to be able to sing the opening night of a production and I hope Adrianne will be in great form for the second performance on Tuesday.
For financial reasons we don't have a cover system with understudies for every single role, some of them are taken care of by the members of the Ensemble Studio, if appropriate, and we always try to make sure that we cover the most important or difficult cast. As an understudy for Ariadne we are fortunate enough to have Amber Wagner from the Ryan Opera Center at Chicago Lyric Opera. She mastered taking over the dress and performing Ariadne for yesterday's opening night with admirable confidence. What a great voice. Thank you, Amber.
This isn't exactly a calm weekend. After yesterday's opening I started today at the residence of Sabine Sparwasser, the German Consul General, then went to the Four Seasons Centre to do my intermission duty at the third performance of La Cenerentola. Now, I'm at home and will soon leave for dinner with Lotfi Mansouri, my pre-pre-predecessor as General Director of the COC. Lotfi will be with us for a week to pass on his wealth of knowledge to our young artists of the Ensemble Studio.
Posted by Alexander Neef / in Season / comments (6) / permalink
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