The COC team pitches the season
The Canadian Opera Company (COC) announced its season earlier today and it promises to be one of the most solid years in the house since the death of Richard Bradshaw and the beginning of the management by Alexander Neef. All are productions which promise to thrill both opera newbies and hardened purists. The season consists of Verdi's Il Trovatore, Johann Strauss II's Die Fledermaus, Wagner's Tristan und Isolde, Mozart's La clemenza di Tito, Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor, Richard Strauss's Salome and Francis Poulenc's Dialogues des Carmélites.
However, the list of operas is only part of the story. The house has once again attracted a fascinating array of theatre craftspeople and singers. International stars Ramon Vargas and Ben Heppner will be appearing (the former in Trovatore, the latter in Tristan) as well as Anna Christy in a Lucia which may blow Toronto audiences away as it did London audiences at the English National Opera (ENO) in 2008. As well, two stellar directors are helming: Peter Sellars on the Wagner, Atom Egoyan on Salome.
What is clear is that Neef has taken control and the season now seems to have a fluidity and lucidity missing in previous years. Where Neef may face some trouble, however, is with his star singers. Heppner, one of the greatest Tristans in history, has had health issues and has missed some performances over the last years. Vargas, who exploded onto the scene as a sub for Luciano Pavarotti, in 1992, has one of the best voices in the world when he is on but has shown, recently, some signs of vocal stress. (GLC)