CCOC’s 50th Anniversary Season Announcement

Ben Heppner and other opera stars join the Canadian Children’s Opera Company for thrilling 50th Anniversary Season

TORONTO – The Canadian Children’s Opera Company presents the thrilling lineup of its 2016/2017 50th Anniversary Season.  Founded by Ruby Mercer and Lloyd Bradshaw in 1968 to provide the children’s chorus for the Canadian Opera Company, the CCOC has gone on to become an internationally-recognized organization in the field of children’s opera.

50th Anniversary Celebration Concert

On October 26, 2017, the CCOC will kick of its momentous 50th anniversary celebrations with a celebratory concert at Canada’s foremost opera house, the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.  The company has shared the stage with countless opera stars over the years and we are happy to invite some of the best Canada has to offer to share the occasion.  Internationally renowned tenor and radio personality Ben Heppner will host, with performances by Richard Margison, Krisztina Szabó, Simone Osborne and Andrew Haji.  CCOC Music Director Teri Dunn will conduct the choruses of the CCOC while former music and artistic directors John Tuttle and Ann Cooper Gay will lead a chorus of the company’s many alumni.  The event, one of the largest in the CCOC’s history, is generously supported by our partners at BMO Financial Group, Donnelley Financial Solutions, and the Canadian Opera Company.

The Monkiest King

The main opera production for the season is the world premiere of The Monkiest King, a new CCOC commission by award-winning composer Alice Ping Yee Ho and librettist Marjorie Chan.  The duo won the 2013 Dora Award for Outstanding New Opera for their Toronto Masque Theatre commission of The Lessons of Da Ji.

The story is adapted from the Song Dynasty mythological figure of Sun Wukong – the Monkey King.  The character, which grew to include Taoist, Buddhist and Hindu influences, spread outside of China throughout East and Southeast Asia.  He has appeared in many forms and adaptations, prominently including the Classic 16th-century novel Journey to the West by Wu Cheng’en, and remains prevalent in the modern day with appearances in Hong Kong action movies and video games.  A proud trickster character reminiscent of Raven or Loki, Sun Wukong rebels against heaven, but ultimately learns humility.

While we in Canada are most familiar with the European tradition of opera, storytelling through the combination of art forms transcends cultural boundaries.  The CCOC, with this commission, has proclaimed their dedication to exploring the cultural diversity of Toronto and Canada while celebrating the stories of our whole community.   The premiere production will feature a number of Chinese-Canadian artists in addition to the composer and librettist, including orchestral musicians  and choreographer Emily Cheung, Artistic Director of the Little Pear Garden Dance Company.

I am absolutely thrilled to write a new opera “The Monkiest King” for the incredible Canadian Children’s Opera Company.  This is also my second collaboration with award-winning librettist Marjorie Chan in our exploration of new story from an old Chinese tale. The legendary Chinese character “The Monkey King” is probably the most famous modern day Chinese “Marvel” hero – it is a dream project for me to bring this mischievous good-natured character to life in a contemporary children’s opera setting.  The “Monkiest King” will certainly inspire and educate children performers the magic of music/drama in a different cultural premise, the production is a promise of both fun and challenges to all!

-Alice Ho, composer

The Monkiest King

by Marjorie Chan and Alice Ping Yee Ho
May 25-27, 2018
Lyric Theatre
Toronto Centre for the Arts

Featuring members of the CCOC.
With a mixed chamber orchestra of Chinese and Western instruments.

A Cup of Kindness – Choral Concert

In late November, the CCOC presents its annual winter choral concert, presenting all six divisions of the company performing operatic and choral music.

Myths & Monsters – Junior Divisions

In the spring, The Junior Divisions (children aged 3-10) will be presenting Myths and Monsters, a collection of music and theatre examining the fantastic and frightening in the world of myth and legend.  This will include a production of Dean Burry’s opera for young performers, Theseus and the Minotaur.

Chip and His Dog – Youth Chorus

Since 1968, the CCOC has commissioned no less than 12 major operatic works and the Youth Chorus of the CCOC (for older choristers and changed male voices) will present one of the first, Chip and His Dog, by the prominent international composer Gian Carlo Menotti.  In the late seventies, the company’s founder, Ruby Mercer,  commissioned her friend to compose the work. It was premiered at the Guelph Spring Festival in 1979 and has gone on to countless international productions in numerous languages.  The CCOC is excited to be bringing this opera home again.

The Canadian Children’s Opera Company’s 2016/2017 Season continues

Commedia
Saturday, April 29
7pm
Tanenbaum Opera Centre

Spring in Song
Sunday, May 28
5pm
Grace Church on-the-Hill

Brundibár
International Tour of the critically-acclaimed CCOC production
July 2-12, 2017
Prague, Krakow, and Budapest.

About the Canadian Children’s Opera Company

Currently in its 49th season, the CCOC consists of six choruses for ages 3 to 19 and is the only permanent children’s opera company in Canada. Led by Artistic Director Dean Burry, Managing Director Ken Hall, and Music Director Teri Dunn, the company engages young people in the vibrant world of opera by offering intensive musical and dramatic training and numerous professional performing experiences. In addition to their own concerts and opera productions, members regularly perform with the Canadian Opera Company and other major professional organizations, record, and tour nationally and internationally.

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