The Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts in downtown Toronto officially opened back in June with a few gala performances, then went on summer hiatus. (No doubt some fine-tuning of the facilities went on.)
The $135 million Four Seasons Centre, which took about three years to build, includes the R. Fraser Elliott Hall, a 2,043-seat auditorium; the Jackman Lounge, an event space; the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre (named for the company's longtime music director), an indoor space (remember, this is Canada) for free performances and lectures; a clear glass fa‹ade facing Queen Street; and a three-story glass staircase suspended from the ceiling. Architect Jack Diamond created the clean modern design, and the acoustics, widely praised so far (not least for being so well insulated from the subway below the building), are by Robert Essert and Sound Space Design. COC owns the Centre, with the other resident company, the National Ballet of Canada, as a tenant.
Beginning tonight, the house gets the proverbial baptism of fire, with the biggest test an opera company can face: Wagner's Ring cycle. (This is another first: Canada's never had a homegrown Ring before.) Canadian Opera Company is presenting three complete cycles of the tetralogy — with each of the four operas having a different stage director — through October 1.
More information about the Four Seasons Centre, the Canadian Opera Company and the Ring cycle can be found at www.fourseasonscentre.ca, www.coc.ca and www.ringcycle.ca. In addition, CBC Radio One and Two will be broadcasting (with live streaming audio over the Web) all four operas as well as related programming; for details, see http://www.cbc.ca/thering/schedule.html.