Tonight the Canadian Opera Company announced their 2017-2018 season aka #coc1718, an event hosted by Brent Bambury in conversation with Johannes Debus & Alexander Neef.  How novel to be permitted –nay encouraged– to tweet during the show about #coc1718.

That’s just one of several innovations.


Jane Archibald as Konstanze, in the Opéra de Lyon/COC co-production of Abduction from the Seraglio, 2016 copyright ©Stofleth

As the shows were announced and we kept hearing Jane Archibald’s name announced in show after show, I wondered. And so the COC will now have an “Artist in Residence” for 2017-18, namely soprano Jane Archibald, coming on the heels of several wonderful recent portrayals with the COC, most recently in Ariodante.  As this is the first time the COC undertakes this kind of thing, I suppose it begins with a season organized around her portrayals of several powerful roles:

  • As Konstanze in Mozart’s Abduction from the Seraglio, a new translation & production by Wajdi Mouawad, a co-production with Opera de Lyon
  • As Zdenka in Richard Strauss’s Arabella, a COC premiere, a co-production with Santa Fe & Minnesota Operas,
  • As the Nightingale in a revival of Robert Lepage’s The Nightingale and other short fables

But I can see other ways that an artist in residence might be put to use, mentoring the ensemble while contributing to the company as well as the community.  We’re told that Archibald will do more than just these roles, including a concert in RBA, and who knows what other intriguing responsibilities might develop from this appointment.

It’s a wonderful idea!

Three other shows fill out the season:

  • Rigoletto, in the revival of the Christopher Alden production, this time starring Roland Wood Anna Christy, and Stephen Costello alternating with Joshua Guerrero as the Duke, conducted by Stephen Lord.
  • The Elixir of Love in a new production with a Canadian focus, both in its cast –Simone Osborne, Andrew Haji and Gordon Bintner—and its design concept, which we were told would be Canadian as well.
  • Anna Bolena, as we’ll see a revival of one of the Stephen Lawless productions of Donizetti’s Elizabethan trilogy, starring Sondra Radvanovsky in the title role.

The event was truly celebratory, from the opening number –a chorus from Abduction from the Seraglio—to three solo performances by former ensemble studio member Andrew Haji, plus current members  Danika Lorèn and Emily D’Angelo, each singing an aria from one of the operas to be presented.


Members of the 2016/2017 COC Ensemble Studio. (back row, l-r) intern coach and pianist Stéphane Mayer, mezzo-soprano Megan Quick, mezzo-soprano Emily D’Angelo, soprano Samatha Pickett, baritone Bruno Roy, tenor Aaron Sheppard. (front row, l-r) soprano Danika Lorèn, mezzo-soprano Lauren Eberwein, intern coach and pianist Hyejin Kwon, tenor Charles Sy. Photo: Bronwen Sharp

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