The COC Ensemble Studio

Centre Stage Ensemble Studio Competition Gala

On November 3, 2015, the Canadian Opera Company held its fundraising gala Centre Stagea magical evening dedicated to the discovery and celebration of the next generation of opera stars.

About the competition

An event unlike any other in Canada, Centre Stage features the competitive vocal showcase of the COC’s Ensemble Studio Competition with a twist that intensifies the already awe-inspiring display of operatic talent being fostered in this country. Finalists in the Ensemble Studio Competition perform from the mainstage of the Four Seasons Centre, accompanied by the internationally acclaimed COC Orchestra conducted by COC Music Director Johannes Debus.

The competition was launched in 2011 by COC General Director Alexander Neef to showcase the operatic talent the COC had scouted from across the country and create a public platform for celebrating the future of opera in Canada.

With the creation of Centre Stage in 2013, the COC now opens the Ensemble Studio Competition to an audience of over 1,000 opera lovers and interested guests as it moves from the intimate setting of the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre at the Four Seasons Centre to R. Fraser Elliott Hall. This is a must-see event for all who are invested in and intrigued by the future of opera in Canada. An exclusive insiders’ experience, the Ensemble Studio Competition introduces the stars of tomorrow well before they step onto the COC stage. The audience at the vocal competition will hear the singers selected to follow in the footsteps of such renowned Ensemble Studio graduates as Ben Heppner, Isabel Bayrakdarian, Joseph Kaiser, Wendy Nielsen and John Fanning, among many others.

The annual Ensemble Studio audition process, open only to Canadian citizens and permanent residents, takes COC artistic staff across Canada and into the U.S. for preliminary auditions in Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto and New York, followed by a final callback audition at the COC’s Joey and Toby Tanenbaum Opera Centre in Toronto. It’s from this pool of singers that finalists are selected for the Ensemble Studio Competition. 

The Ensemble Studio Competition is underwritten in part by RBC Foundation, Peter M. Deeb and the Hal Jackman Foundation.

2015 Finalists

  • Mezzo-soprano Emily D'Angelo (Toronto, Ont.) 
  • Mezzo-soprano Lauren Eberwein (Qualicum Beach, B.C.) 
  • Soprano Eliza Johnson (Stratford, Ont.)
  • Mezzo-sopranoMarjorie Maltais (La Malbaie, Q.C.)
  • Soprano Samantha Pickett (Kitchener, Ont.)
  • Baritone Zachary Read (Halifax, N.S.)
  • Baritone Bruno Roy (Montrèal, Q.C.) 
  • Mezzo-soprano Pascale Spinney (Laval, Q.C.)


2015 Winners

  • First prize and Audience Choice award: Mezzo-soprano Emily D'Angelo
  • Second prize: Mezzo-soprano Lauren Eberwein
  • Baritone Bruno Roy

Centre Stage 2016

Save the date! Centre Stage will take place on November 3, 2016 — check back to find out how you can purchase tickets to this thrilling event.  

Photo: (l-r) Ensemble Studio Competition Second Prize winner mezzo-soprano Lauren Eberwein, Ensemble Studio Competition First Prize and Audience Choice Award winner mezzo-soprano Emily D’Angelo, Ensemble Studio Competition Third Prize winner baritone Bruno Roy, Centre Stage 2015.