Youth Opera Lab

Youth Opera Labs are FREE events for teens and young adults ages 16 to 24. They take place at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. No previous experience with opera is necessary. Participants are selected based on the interest and relevance demonstrated in their online application. Click the panels below to explore this season's Labs.

Singing Duets - September 26, 2016

Vincenzo Bellini

The Lab

Monday, September 26, 2016 from 5 to 9:30 p.m.

  • Singing duets workshop with Aria Umezawa
  • Norma working rehearsal


The Dress Rehearsal

Participate in the lab and you’ll receive two FREE tickets to the dress rehearsal of Norma.
Monday, October 3, 2016 at 7:30 p.m.

Registration for this Youth Opera Lab is now closed.


Aria Umezawa is the Artistic Director of Toronto-based independent opera company, Opera 5, and the creator, director, and writer of the webseries Opera Cheats. Her staging of Poulenc’s La voix humaine took home the Capital City Critics Circle Critic’s Choice Award at the 2013 Ottawa Fringe Festival. She recently participated in the 2016 Merola Opera Program through the San Francisco Opera Centre as the Apprentice Stage Director, where she staged the Merola Grand Finale.

As a lover of new and obscure operas, Aria has directed the Canadian premier of several works including New York-based composer, Milton Granger’s Talk Opera, Darren Russo’s Storybook (commissioned by Opera 5) which took home the 2015 SOCAN Foundation Grand Prize, and the North American premier of Cavalli’s Artemisia (Helios Opera, Boston). She has been praised for her irreverent, post-modern, imaginative and quirky visual style by online and print publications such as The Boston Globe, The Boston Pheonix, The San Francisco Chronicle, and Toronto’s Barcza Blog; her work has been featured in Metro News, Jezebel, and The Huffington Post, as well as on the social media pages of opera companies across North America.

Intro to Opera for Musical Theatre Lovers - January 14, 2017

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

The Lab

Saturday, January 14, 2016 from 5 to 9:30 p.m.

  • Backstage Tour with Jake Gow
  • Interactive Lecture with Kyra Millan, soprano
  • The Magic Flute working rehearsal

The Dress Rehearsal

Participate in the lab and you’ll receive two FREE tickets to the dress rehearsal of The Magic Flute.
Monday, January 16, 2017 at 7:30 p.m.

Registration for this Youth Opera Lab is now closed.


Soprano Kyra Millan is happiest creating quirky shows that allow her to blend education and performance, as her unique career has been a balance of both.

An opera comedienne, she embarks this year on her first Ontario tour of her original show Millan & Faye Present: The Opera, with her music partner Christina Faye. After three popular appearances in the Canadian Opera Company’s Free Concert Series, the duo kicked off their tour at the Four Seasons Centre in March 2016. Other recent performances include headlining Harbourfront’s Voice and Strings Festival in 2014, and a surprise appearance for the TSO’s Pianos in the City earlier this year. In winter 2013, Kyra created her first full-length show, Christmas with Hi and Lo, in collaboration with Canadian jazz icon John Alcorn, and performed to sold-out audiences.

Kyra’s work in arts education began 18 years ago, facilitating opera workshops for the COC, as well as acting as musical director of their Summer Youth Intensive program, and many summer camps. Since then, she has worked in over 200 schools, teaching workshops as a guest artist educator on behalf of the Royal Conservatory of Music, Opera Atelier, and the COC. Other arts organizations for which Kyra has led workshops and training programs include: Workman Arts (CAMH), Abilities Arts, Soundstreams Canada, Kiwanis Music Festival, and TIFF.  

Kyra coaches aspiring singers and professionals in her private studio in Toronto, and she also brings her voice coaching to professional productions in Canada for companies such as Canadian Stage, Stage West, Young People’s Theatre, National Arts Centre, as well as for international touring productions. 

Creating with young people is particularly exciting for Kyra and one of her favourite projects is GLEESICAL– which she created six years ago, and directs– a year-long program where young people create, write, compose, build, design and perform their own musical. Kyra lives in Toronto with her family.

Jake Gow has been an active member of the Canadian theatre industry for several years as a theatre technician, carpenter, designer, and artisan. He is a graduate of the Sheridan College Technical Theatre Production program and his recent positions include carpenter at the Upper Canada Playhouse, Properties intern at the Juilliard School and most recently, touring across Canada as the technical director for Canada’s Ballet Jörgen. He also co-runs a small carpentry shop. Jake is currently Assistant Technical Director at the Canadian Opera Company.

Writing Text for Opera - January 24, 2017

Richard Wagner

The Lab

Tuesday, January 24, 2017 from 5 to 9:30 p.m.

  • Libretto (opera script) writing workshop Julie Tepperman, librettist
  • Götterdämmerung working rehearsal


The Dress Rehearsal

Participate in the lab and you’ll receive two FREE tickets to the dress rehearsal of Götterdämmerung.
Monday, January 30, 2017 at 5 p.m.

Registration for this Youth Opera Lab is now closed.


Julie Tepperman is an actor, playwright, educator and co-artistic director of Convergence Theatre, which has twice been voted by NOW Magazine readers as “The Best Site Specific Theatre Company in Toronto”. Selected playwriting credits include: YICHUD (Seclusion) (Capital Critic's Circle Nomination; published by Playwrights Canada Press); a re-imagining of August Strindberg’s The Father (Winnipeg Jewish Theatre)I Grow Old as part of The Gladstone Variations (Dora nomination, #2 in NOW Magazine's Top Ten Toronto Productions of The Decade); Rosy as part of AutoShow (Best Production, Best New Play, Outstanding Ensemble at the Toronto Fringe). Julie is the co-creator/writer/director (with Mitchell Cushman) of Brantwood – a 15hr. immersive musical theatre choose-your-own-adventure that has audiences following characters all over an abandoned high school. Julie continues to collaborate with composer Christopher Thornborrow on Selfie, a new opera for teens, commissioned by Tapestry Opera, and with composer Kevin Wong on a new musical commissioned by Acting Up Stage Theatre, inspired by the painting The Young Biologist by Paul Peel (1891). Julie regularly teaches self-producing workshops for The Toronto Fringe and SummerWorks Festivals, and teaches playwriting courses and workshops for: The Stratford Festival, The Toronto and Peel District School Boards, Young People’s Theatre, Act II Studio (Ryerson University’s Continuing Ed Program), The JCC and The University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies. Julie was Playwright-In-Residence at Theatre Passe Muraille in 2009-11 with the support of the Canada Council.

Songs of the M├ętis - April 13, 2017

Harry Somers

The Lab

Thursday, April 13, 2016 from 5 to 9:30 p.m.

  • Métis songs workshop and Q&A 
  • Louis Riel working rehearsal


The Dress Rehearsal

Participate in the lab and you’ll receive two FREE tickets to the dress rehearsal of Louis Riel.
Monday, April 17, 2017 at 7:30 p.m.

Registration for this Youth Opera Lab is now CLOSED.  


Conlin Delbaere-Sawchuk is a dynamic performer, drawing inspiration from his heritage to fuse Métis folk traditions with contemporary musical genres and styles. He completed his bachelor of music at the University of Ottawa in classical voice performance. In addition to recitals and lead roles in several operas, he explored jazz on electric bass, recording, sound production, and multimedia art projects. He has toured extensively, along with his three siblings, as part of the Métis Fiddler Quartet. Recent performances include: the 2015 Parapan Am Games opening ceremony, and La Grande Gigue, a collaboration with the Caprice Baroque Ensemble for the 2016 Montreal Baroque Festival.


Youth Opera Lab, 2014. Video: COC

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