Canadian Opera Company Announces 2007-08 Season

Classic Arts News   Canadian Opera Company Announces 2007-08 Season
 
The Canadian Opera Company's 2007-08 season, expanded from previous years, will feature two new stagings — one by a Broadway veteran and one by a renowned Russian experimenter — plus appearances by hot young conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya and singers including Isabel Bayrakdarian, Ying Huang, Adrianne Pieczonka, Giselle Allen, Alan Opie, Daniil Shtoda and Rodion Pogossov.

The season, the company's second in Toronto's Four Seasons Centre, opens on October 2 with a revival of Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro. Sopranos Isabel Bayrakdarian and Ying Huang alternate as Susanna, Russell Braun sings Count Almaviva, bass Robert Gleadow is Figaro, Jessica Muirhead takes the role of the Countess and Sandra Piques Eddy plays Cherubino. English conductor Julia Jones makes her COC debut with this production, which features sets by Morris Ertman and costumes by Ann Curtis. A director has not yet been announced.

October 12 brings the opening of Verdi's Don Carlos in the composer's original five-act French version. This co-production with the Welsh National Opera will be directed by John Caird, the Tony Award winner who helmed (with Trevor Nunn) the Broadway/West End extravaganzas Les Misérables and Nicholas Nickleby. The cast includes tenor Mikhail Agafonov in the title role, soprano Adrianne Pieczonka as Elisabeth de Valois (one performance will be sung by soprano Joni Henson) and mezzo-sopranos Guang Yang and Mary Phillips sharing the role of Princess Eboli. There will be two COC debuts: baritone Scott Hendricks as Rodrigue and bass-baritone Terje Stensvold as King Philip. Sets are by Johan Engels and costumes by Carl Friedrich Oberle; COC general director Richard Bradshaw conducts.

A new COC production of Tosca opens the company's winter season on January 26. Soprano Eszter S‹megi will play Tosca; Cavaradossi will be sung by tenor Mikhail Agafonov and baritone Alan Opie will sing Scarpia. Richard Buckley conducts; Paul Curran directs and sets and costumes are by Kevin Knight.

Groundhog Day (February 2) brings a COC premiere: Janácek's From the House of the Dead, directed by Dmitri Bertman, head of Moscow's award-winning Helikon Opera Company. Tenor Robert K‹nzli will sing Luka Kumi, tenor David Pomeroy will play Skuratov, bass-baritone Pavlo Hunka will apppear as Shiskov and bass Robert Pomakov as Alexander Petrovi Gorjanikov. Sets and costumes are by Astrid Janson; Richard Bradshaw conducts.

Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin opens on April 2, featuring soprano Giselle Allen as Tatyana, baritone Brett Polegato as Onegin, tenor Daniil Shtoda as Lensky, mezzo-soprano Allyson McHardy as Olga, bass Pavel Daniluk as Prince Gremin and mezzo-soprano Barbara Dever as Filipyevna. Richard Bradshaw will conduct the production (originally created for Strasbourg's Op_ra national du Rhin), which is directed and designed by Marco Arturo Marelli with costumes are by Bettina Walter.

The spring lineup also includes Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia, which opens on April 16 with mezzo-soprano Enkelejda Shkosa as Rosina and tenor Jeremy Ovenden as Almaviva. Baritone Rodion Pogossov makes his Canadian debut as Figaro; baritone Patrick Carfizzi is Dr. Bartolo and bass Burak Bilgili sings Don Basilio. Michael Patrick Albano will direct the revival of this 1999 COC production; conducting will be Miguel Harth-Bedoya, the rising young talent who turned many heads (and ears) during his term as Assistant Conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and who now serves as music director of the Fort Worth Symphony.

The COC season closes with a seventh mainstage presentation, up from the six of previous years. That production will be a revival of Nicholas Muni's 2000 staging of Debussy's Pell_as et M_lisande, featuring Russell Braun and Isabel Bayrakdarian in the title roles. Bass-baritone Pavlo Hunka is Golaud; Richard Wiegold makes his company debut as King Arkel and Barbara Dever is Genevive. Richard Bradshaw conducts; sets and costumes are by Dany Lyne. Pell_as opens on May 6 and concludes the season on May 20.

The Toronto Globe and Mail points out that 2007-08 will mark the second straight year that the COC has offered no Canadian works. Bradshaw told the paper, however, that the company had planned to perform Inanna, a full-length 2000 COC commission from composer Randolph Peters — with a libretto by novelist Margaret Atwood — but health problems reportedly prevented Peters from completing the work. The company "can't just do anything Canadian," Bradshaw said, "I have to do something first-rate. It has to convince our audience that contemporary opera matters."

In any event, the season features a strong lineup of Canadian singers: Bayrakdarian, Braun, Pieczonka and Polegato are all Canadian.


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