Canadian Opera Company

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It was commissioned by the Floyd S. Chalmers Foundation and produced by the Canadian Opera Company. Due to its important role in the national celebrations of 1967, it was subsidized by the Canadian Centennial Commission, the Canada Council, and the Province of Ontario Council for the Arts. The Canadian Opera Company (COC) is an opera company in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is the largest opera company in Canada and one of the largest producers of opera in North America. The COC performs in its own opera house, the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. Enter your Email Address and Password below to log in to your account.

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As an old form of art in a new country, opera came to Canada relatively late. Although the first composition can be traced back to the seventeenth century it was not until 150 years later that Canadian opera caught up. Canadian opera became especially fashionable on Canada's 1967 centennial year. These celebrations set off an interest in operas among Canadian composers that was never seen before. This interest in opera, among composers and audience alike, is noticeable until today. However, most Canadian operatic works are not known internationally since many of them specifically concern Canadian themes and are small in scale.

Canadian operas are typically influenced by the history of the country. Many deal with First Nations and immigration themes or concern specific historical events and figures. Canada's diversity is thus very much reflected by the operatic works of its composers.

Early Canadian opera[edit]

The first opera written on Canadian soil was Joseph Quesnel's Colas et Colinette. Written in 1788 and first performed in 1790 in Montreal, it was again produced in Quebec in 1805. The comedic opera in three acts is written in a manner that clearly shows the composer's French heritage. The characters are “stock characters” that were often found in French comedies such as Molière's and Jean-Jacques Rousseau's.[1] The similarities between the characters but also the plots may be due to the fact, that the plays as well as operas show the morals of French society at the time. From the musical part of Colas et Colinette, only the vocal and second-violin parts are preserved. It contains many arias and duets that differ and vary to show the contrasting characters. The opera ends with a vaudeville finale before the closing chorus – a common practice at the time.

In 1963, Godfrey Ridout reconstructed the musical parts of Colas et Colinette. He also composed an overture for the work that he based on the themes of the opera. Since the piece was first composed as an afterpiece, there was no overture included. The reconstructed version was first staged in 1963 at the Ten Centuries Concerts in Toronto and broadcast on television by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) in 1968.[2] Even though it is regarded the first Canadian opera, Colas et Colinette is in its tradition still closer to France than to Canada.[citation needed]

Joseph Quesnel also wrote a second opera, Lucas et Cécile. A notice on its production can be found in 1808 while an actual performance of it is not certain.[3] Of this work, only the vocal parts were preserved. Five singers are employed in the twelve solo numbers, two duets, two trios and one finale.[1] The opera was reconstructed by John Beckwith in 1989 and staged by Tafelmusik in Toronto in 1994 and later in Montreal.[3]

Nineteenth century[edit]

After Quesnel's compositions, the next occurrence of Canadian opera is not found until the 1860s.[4] Major European operas were now regularly staged in Canada, and so Canadian composers became motivated to contribute similar works themselves.[5] Canadian opera at this point starts to deal with Canadian themes such as politics and First Nations issues.

Calixa Lavallée – today mostly known for composing the national anthem of Canada – wrote three comedic operas from 1865/66 until 1880. TIQ – The Indian Question Settled at Last (1865/66) deals with First Nations issues of the time. The composer also tried to include aspects of the music from the native Sioux people. Of his other operas, The Widow (1880) has been preserved. However, his second opera Lou-Lou from 1872 is lost today.[6]

In the 1880s, comical operas as well as parodies of other operatic works became popular. One of these is Leo, the Royal Cadet (1889), by the German-born composer Oscar Ferdinand Telgmann (1855–1946). It deals with the career of the protagonist, Leo, and features caricatures of the Royal Military College of Canada's professors, from which many situations and characters were drawn. The opera was first staged at Martin's Opera House in Kingston during July 1889 and went on tour with several groups afterwards.[7] By 1925 it had been performed around 150 times, making it a record among Canadian operas.[8]

Among the works that parodied other operas was George Broughall's The Tearful and Tragical Tale of the Tricky Troubadour; or The Truant Tracked (1886) that satirically adapted Verdi's Il trovatore. A parody based on Canadian politics of that time as well as on Arthur Sullivan's H.M.S. Pinafore was William Harry Fuller's HMS Parliament, or, The Lady Who Loved a Government Clerk (1879).

Other Canadian operas written during the nineteenth century include Frederick W. Mills's Maire of St Brieux (1875), Susie Frances Harrison's three-act comic opera Pipandour (1884) and Arthur Clappé's Canada's Welcome: A Masque (1897). All of which had librettos written by F. A. Dixon. Arthur Clappé's opera was written for thirteen soloists representing different regions and people of Canada. It also featured a chorus of 100 voices and an orchestra.[9]

The twentieth century[edit]

During the twentieth century, Canada's composers were writing more operas than ever. Since the 1940s the CBC has had a big part in promoting the composition of operas by commission. As promotion, CBC has also been broadcasting new operas on their radio shows and television networks. The centennial celebrations of 1967 also led to many new operas concerning Canadian themes.[10] The celebrations gave Canadian opera a popularity that is noticeable until today.


During the first half of the twentieth century only a few Canadian operas were known. Roberta Geddes-Harvey's La Terre Bonne, or the Land of the Maple Leaf was first performed in 1903.[11]Joseph Vézina's operetta La Fétiche from 1912 deals with First Nations subjects like the conflict between the Iroquois and the French settlers in the early eighteenth century.[12]J. Ulric Voyer's three-act opera L'Intendant Bigot was performed in Montreal and Quebec City in 1929.

In the 1940s, Healey Willan's Transit through Fire (1942) was broadcast by the CBC; and Eugène Lapierre's operas La Père des amours (1942) and La Vagabond de la gloire (1947) were based on the lives of Joseph Quesnel and Calixa Lavallée. Another opera of the 1940s is Graham George's Evangeline that premiered in 1948 in Kingston, Ontario.

The operas that followed in the 1950s and 60s typically continued to be short in length – mostly one-act operas were composed.[13]Harry Somers's The Fool was written in 1953 with a libretto by Michael E. Fram. It is set in a medieval court and the four characters represent not only themselves, but also aspects of our society and psychology. The music of the opera is very diverse as it includes aspects of four different centuries: ground bass figures, chorale and motet style, tonal folk song and twelve-tone technique.[14]

John Beckwith's Night Blooming Cereus (1958) is another example of Canadian themes in opera and a 'parable of the redemptive powers of love'[15] in a small town in Southern Ontario. It also features Southern Ontario vernacular music and texts.[15]

During the 1960s, the construction of many new theatres and the establishment of new opera companies resulted in the production of many new Canadian operas to be performed on stage.[16] Healey Willan's Deirdre, first composed in 1946 for a radio broadcast of the CBC, was revised and performed on stage in 1965. Richard Wagner's influence on the musical style of this work is especially recognizable in Willan's use of the leitmotif principle.[17]

Canadian opera was also produced for broadcast on television, one example being R. Murray Schafer's Loving/Toi (1964/5). It is bilingual drama about love in four loosely connected parts, which can be performed independently. The opera very much represents the avant garde music of the 1960s.[18]

1967: Canada's centennial celebrations[edit]

To mark Canada's centennial year in 1967, many new operas concerning Canadian subjects were commissioned and composed. One of the best known and greatest operas in Canada until today is Harry Somers's Louis Riel. It was commissioned by the Floyd S. Chalmers Foundation and produced by the Canadian Opera Company. Due to its important role in the nationalcelebrations of 1967, it was subsidized by the Canadian [[Centennial Commission, the Canada Council, and the Province of Ontario Council for the Arts.[19] As basis for the libretto by Mavor Moore, John Coulter's play Riel: A Play in Two Parts (1950) was used.[20] It is written in English, French, Cree and Latin, to represent the different parties that were involved in the conflict between settlers and Métis. The diverse music is full of contrast in its use of different musical traditions and further supports the notion of struggle between different cultures.[21]

Other operas that were written for the centennial celebrations include Raymond Pannell's The Luck of Ginger Coffrey, Murray Adaskin's Grant, Warden of the Plains, Kelsey Jones's Sam Slick, Robert Turner's The Brideship, and Douglas Major's The Loyalists.[11]


After the great success of Louis Riel and other centennial operas, works based on Canadian themes continued to grow in popularity among composers. In fact, there have never been more operas composed in Canada than after 1967 – until 1978 there were already 25 new Canadian operas.[22] However, due to economic issues, most compositions were small in scale. A great opera, such as the heavily subsidized Louis Riel, did not happen to be composed again.

Operas based on Canadian themes, composed between 1967 and 1978, include István Anhalt's La Tourangelle (1975), Charles Wilson's Kamourska (1975), Derek Healey's Seabird Island (1977) and Samuel Dolin's Drakkar (1972).[23]

Another popular form of opera were works specially composed for children. Examples of these are Gabriel Charpentier's An English Lesson (1968), Walter Buczynski's From the Buczynski Book of the Living (1972), Violet Archer's Sganarelle (1973), Tibor Polgar's The Glove (1973) and Paul McIntyre's work based on 'The Little Red Hen' (1976).

The International Year of Canadian Music in 1986 was another celebration that induced new operas. István Anhalt's work Winthrop was composed in this context. In this opera, as before in La Tourangelle, Anhalt plays with the notion of time and combines the historical time represented in the story with the audience's contemporary time.[24]

In the 1980s composers started to experiment with multimedia and the limits of the art form. Sometimes the audience was incorporated in the performance such as can be seen in R. Murray Schafer's Ra (1983). Other composers include Ruth Watson Henderson, and Elizabeth Raum.[10]

Contemporary Canadian opera[edit]

Contemporary Canadian composers still have to deal with economic issues that influence the scale of a newly composed operas. New operas are often funded by the Canada Council and are less elaborate than grand opera. However, opera continues to be popular among composers and audience alike. Between 1980 and 2001 as many as 57 operas were composed by Canadians.[25]

Contemporary opera often incorporates different musical traditions and styles as well as multimedia. Productions often focus more on the drama and theatricality and use methods that can also be found in film and performance art.[26] In the 1990s smaller opera companies such as the Queen of Puddings, Tapestry Opera and Autumn Leaf Productions in Toronto as well as Montreal's Chants Libres were established, producing many new Canadian operas. Queen of Puddings embraces their economic restrictions using smaller auditoriums to ensure a closer and more intimate connection between performers and audience.[27]

In 1999, Queen of Puddings produced James Rolfe's opera Beatrice Chancy with a libretto by George Elliott Clarke. As many other Canadian operas, it deals with a Canadian theme of slavery that was present in Nova Scotia in the nineteenth century.[27]

When concerning cultural roots, Canadian operas do not only deal with First Nations topics but, since Canada is a nation of immigrants, many composers have multicultural roots and base their musical works on these as well. An example is Chan Ka Nin's chamber operaIron Road from 2001, which concerns the exploitation of Chinese workers during the construction of the trans-Canada railroad. The libretto by Mark Bromwell and George K. Wong is written in English and Cantonese and the music draws aspects from both musical traditions.[21]

John Estacio's works Filumena (2003) and Frobisher (2007) deal with individuals of the Canadian history. Whereas Filumena is based on the only woman that was put to death in Alberta, Frobisher deals with the Elizabethan pirate Martin Frobisher but from a contemporary perspective. Estacio's Lillian Alling, with libretto by John Murrell 2010), was premiered by Vancouver Opera and told the story of a real-life adventurer who walked across the continent in the 1920s.

Other contemporary Canadian operas include Harry Somers's Mario and the Magician (1992), Bruce Mather's La princesse blanche (1993), Randolph Peters's The Golden Ass (1999), John Beckwith's Taptoo! (1999), David McIntyre's The Architect (1991), István Anhalt's Traces (1995) and Millennial Mall (2000), Sadie Buck's Bones (2001), Victor Davies's Transit of Venus (2007), Alexina Louie's The Scarlet Princess (2002) and Mulroney (2011), Ramona Luengen's 'Naomi's Road (2005), and James Rolfe's Orpheus and Euridice (2003), Rosa (2004), Elijah's Kite (2006), Swan (2006), Aeneas and Dido (2007) and Inês (2009).

The field of chamber opera is opening further prospects for new Canadian opera. One of the most successful Canadian chamber operas is Nigredo Hotel (1992), composed by Nic Gotham to a libretto by Ann-Marie MacDonald. More recently, City Opera of Vancouver has commissioned and premiered Fallujah (2012) by Tobin Stokes and Heather Raffo; Pauline', by Margaret Atwood and Tobin Stokes (2014); and, has announced Missing (2017) by First Nations playwright Marie Clements.

Canadian opera company posters

See also[edit]


  1. ^ abKallmann 1987, p. 65.
  2. ^Keillor 2006, pp. 90–91.
  3. ^ abKeillor 2006, p. 91.
  4. ^Keillor 2006, p. 138.
  5. ^Keillor 2006, pp. 139-140.
  6. ^Keillor 2006, p. 139.
  7. ^Keillor 2006, p. 387, note 44.
  8. ^Kallmann 1987, p. 256.
  9. ^Kallmann 1987, p. 139.
  10. ^ abJones 1992, p. 711.
  11. ^ abWillis 1992, p. 986.
  12. ^Keillor 2006, p. 140.
  13. ^Willis 1992, p. 968.
  14. ^Proctor 1980, p. 92.
  15. ^ abDomville 2003, pp. 18–21.
  16. ^Grout & Weigel Williams 2003, p. 724.
  17. ^Proctor 1980, pp. 134–135.
  18. ^Proctor 1980, pp. 135, 136.
  19. ^Renihan 2011, p. 261.
  20. ^Renihan 2011, p. 259, note 3.
  21. ^ abDomville 2003, p. 20.
  22. ^Proctor 1980, p. 209.
  23. ^Proctor 1980, p. 210.
  24. ^Renihan 2011, p. 433.
  25. ^Keillor 2006, p. 266.
  26. ^Keillor 2006, pp. 266–267.
  27. ^ abDomville 2002, pp. 22–24.


  • Domville, Eric (2002). 'Canadian Overtures'. Opera Canada. 43 (3): 22–24.
  • Domville, Eric (2003). 'Canadian Themes and Variations'. Opera Canada. 44 (1): 18–21.
  • Grout, Donald; Weigel Williams, Hermine (2003). A Short History of Opera (4th ed.). New York: University of Columbia Press.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  • Jones, Gaynor G. (1992). 'Canada'. In Stanley Sadie (ed.). The New Grove Dictionary of Opera. 1. London: MacMillan.
  • Kallmann, Helmut (1987). A History of Music in Canada 1534–1914. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
  • Keillor, Elaine (2006). Music in Canada: Capturing Landscape and Diversity. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press.
  • Proctor, George A. (1980). Canadian Music of the Twentieth Century. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
  • Renihan, Colleen L (2011). 'The Politics of Genre: Exposing Historical Tensions in Harry Somers's Louis Riel'. In Pamela Karantonis; Dylan Robinson (eds.). Opera Indigene: Re/Presenting First Nations and Indigenous Cultures. Surrey: Ashgate Publishing. pp. 259–276.
  • Willis, Stephen (1992). 'Opera composition'. In Helmut Kallmann; Gilles Potvin; Kenneth Winters; Robin Elliott; Mark Miller (eds.). Encyclopedia of Music in Canada (2nd ed.). Toronto: University of Toronto Press. pp. 968–969.

External links[edit]

  • Media related to Opera of Canada at Wikimedia Commons
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Canadian Opera Company

Canadian Opera Company (COC). Leading producer of opera in Canada after the middle of the 20th century. (An earlier COC, Montreal 1931, mounted only one production, Gounod's Roméo et Juliette.)

The Origins of the COC
The COC emerged as a direct result of the establishment in 1946 of the Royal Conservatory Opera School (University of Toronto Opera Division) under Arnold Walter, with Nicholas Goldschmidt as music director and conductor, and with Felix Brentano as stage director, succeeded by Herman Geiger-Torel in 1948. By 1949 the school had presented opera excerpts at Hart House Theatre, five complete operas at Eaton Auditorium, and one production each at the Art Gallery of Toronto and the Royal Alexandra Theatre. Public interest and support encouraged the school's directors to form the Royal Conservatory Opera Company and to present the first Opera Festival - Don Giovanni, Rigoletto, and La Bohème - at the Royal Alexandra Theatre in February 1950. Although the singers and most of the technical and musical staff were from the Opera School, this festival marked the true beginning of the COC.

In November 1950 the Opera Festival Association was incorporated to sponsor the annual presentations of the company and, by assuming all administrative and financial responsibility for the productions, to absolve the Royal Conservatory of Music of direct costs while providing an opportunity for the school's students and staff to exercise their talents. Geiger-Torel, stage director and producer, was named artistic director in 1956 and Goldschmidt remained music director until 1957. Ernesto Barbini had begun his long association as a conductor with the COC when he joined the RCM staff in 1953. With the 1955 season the Opera Festival Association began to mount its own productions under the name Opera Festival Company of Toronto. Casting and preparation were independent of the RCM and personnel were hired under contract.

After a successful fall season of operetta in 1957 the main season was shifted to the fall, where it remained for many years (locked there 1968-76 by the availability of the Toronto Symphony [TS]). Ettore Mazzoleni, director of the Opera School 1952-66, was artistic director 1953-4, managing director 1954-5, and general director 1955-6 of the Festival; in 1956 the last official links with the school were broken. Although the increased use of professional casts and the limiting of the season to the fall precluded Opera School participation on more than a supportive basis, the COC continued to use the school's facilities and to co-operate until 1976, through mutual employment agreements with the school, in ensuring the year-round availability to both organizations of competent stage directors.

Adoption of Name; Support Organizations

During 1958, with the beginning of the first tours, the name Canadian Opera Company came into use and remained the popular and operative name of the organization. The appointment in 1959 of Geiger-Torel as general director and Barbini as music adviser preceded the letters patent of 20 Sep 1960 that changed the old name (Opera Festival Association of Toronto) to The Canadian Opera Association. This remained the legal title until 1977, when Canadian Opera Company was adopted.

Ancillary to the COC but important as supporting organizations have been the Canadian Opera Company Women's Committee, which originated in the Opera and Concert Committee of the RCM, founded in 1947 with Mrs Floyd Chalmers as its first president; and the Canadian Opera Guild, formed by Vida Peene in 1959. The Guild began to publish Opera Canada in 1960.


Although securely based in Toronto, with the O'Keefe Centre as its home after 1961 and the TS as its accompanying orchestra 1968-76, the company justified the inclusion of 'Canadian' in its title by its intention to tour. Indeed, a 1958 tour that took 19 performances of The Barber of Seville, with George Brough as accompanist and music director, to cities in eastern Canada was the beginning of regular tours by a special COC touring company that travelled some 15,000 km each year, visiting virtually every urban area of Canada and parts of the USA. At first performing with only piano accompaniment, the touring company began travelling with its own orchestra in 1968. The last tour, a production of L'Incoronazione di Poppea, took place in 1991. In addition to the touring company's performances outside Toronto, the main company has appeared elsewhere in Ontario (Hamilton, Kitchener, London, and Ottawa), and also in Montreal (including Expo 67), Washington, DC, at the Brooklyn Academy, and at the Edinburgh International Festival.

Extended Season
Geiger-Torel continued as general director of the COC until his retirement in 1976, when he was succeeded by Iranian-born Lotfi Mansouri. Geiger-Torel would have continued as general director emeritus, but he died suddenly the same year.

In 1977, under Mansouri, the COC decided to spread its opera productions throughout the year instead of giving them all in a fall season. Since the TS, because of its heavy concert commitments, could reserve only September for the COC, continued collaboration became impractical under the new system, and the COC began working with its own orchestra. A transitional step toward the new schedule was the presentation of two spring seasons at the Royal Alexandra Theatre (1978 and 1979). Beginning in 1979-80, performances were given in three periods - fall, winter, and spring.

COC Ensemble and Composers-in-Residence
The Canadian Opera Company Ensemble was established in 1980 to provide training and experience for young Canadian singers. Stuart Hamilton was the first musical director. The ensemble formed the nucleus of the touring company, and acted as a resident company, participating in productions at the O'Keefe Centre and performing at Toronto's Harbourfront, in Toronto area schools, and from 1986, at the Joey and Toby Tanenbaum Opera Centre (which provided much-needed rehearsal and performance facilities as well as a home for the company's administration and archives). The need to foster young Canadian talent was also recognized in the establishment in 1987 of a 'composers-in-residence' program. By 1995 the program had resulted in the creation of three full-length and six one-act operas by Canadian composers Michel-Georges Brégent, Richard Désilets, Denis Gougeon, Peter Paul Koprowski, Gary Kulesha, Andrew MacDonald, John Oliver, Randolph Peters, and Timothy Sullivan.

Development of Surtitles
In 1982 the COC's director of operations, John Leberg, developed a system for projecting translations of opera libretti onto a screen above the stage. Known as surtitles, in 1983 the system began to be used for every COC foreign-language production, and it has been adopted by a number of opera companies in Canada and abroad.

Appointments 1989-Present

Canadian Opera Company

Brian Dickie, former general administrator of the Glyndebourne Festival Opera, succeeded Mansouri in 1989. With the declared intention of placing emphasis on musical standards, Dickie re-organized the COC's administration to include a music department and appointed Richard Bradshaw as permanent conductor. Dickie left the company in November 1993, and Bradshaw was appointed in January 1994 as artistic and musical director. Elaine Calder was made general manager, but in 1998 the administration returned to a single administrative head when Bradshaw was made general director. After Bradshaw's sudden death in August 2007, Alexander Neef (b Germany) became general director in 2008, and Johannes Debus (b Germany 1974) was made music director in January 2009.


By 2004 the COC had given about 1,900 performances of 122 different operas by the main company in Toronto and approximately 1,650 performances by the touring company. Although the COC repertoire has leaned heavily on standard works, such as La Bohème (13 productions up to 2004), Madama Butterfly (14 productions), The Barber of Seville (9 productions), and Rigoletto (11 productions), it also has staged less-heard works, such as Boris Godunov (1974, 1986, 2002), Don Carlos in the original French (1977, 1988), Billy Budd (2001), Death in Venice (1984), Wozzeck (1977, 1990), Lulu (1980, 1991), Poulenc's Dialogues of the Carmelites (1986, 1997), Janáček's The Makropulos Case (1989) and The Cunning Little Vixen (1998), Henze's Venus und Adonis (2001), Schoenberg's Erwartung (1993, 1995, 2001), Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex (1997, 2002), and John Adams' Nixon in China (2011). In September 2006 the company successfully mounted the first full Canadian productions of Wagner's The Ring Cycle, the first time the cycle had been heard in Canada since it was sung in 1914 by a visiting English company.

Operas Composed by Canadians

The COC performed Willan's Deirdre in 1966 and has commissioned operas by Canadian composers, including Harry Somers' critically acclaimed Louis Riel (performed 1967, 1968, 1975) and Mario and the Magician (1992); Raymond Pannell's The Luck of Ginger Coffey (1967); Charles Wilson'sHeloise and Abelard (1973); and Randolph Peters' The Golden Ass (1999).

Performers and Staff

Many of Canada's leading singers have risen within the COC ranks, including John Arab, Peter Barcza, Alexander Gray, Peter Milne, Mary Morrison, Patricia Rideout, Jan Rubes, Heather Thomson, and Bernard Turgeon. Over the years almost every Canadian singer of note has appeared with the company, among them Pierrette Alarie, Isabel Bayrakdarian, Emile Belcourt, Colette Boky, Jean Bonhomme, Benoit Boutet, Pierre Boutet, Russell Braun, Victor Braun, Claude Corbeil, Alan Crofoot, Tracy Dahl, Mark DuBois, Pierre Duval, Gerald Finley, Judith Forst, Don Garrard, Marguerite Gignac, Frances Ginzer, Robert Goulet, Ben Heppner, Gwenlynn Little, Richard Margison, Ermanno Mauro, Morley Meredith, James Milligan, Allan Monk, Cornelis Opthof, Maria Pellegrini, Adrianne Pieczonka, Louis Quilico, Gino Quilico, Joseph Rouleau, Irene Salemka, Michael Schade, Léopold Simoneau, Teresa Stratas, Richard Verreau, Jon Vickers, and Jeannette Zarou.

Administration and Budget

The growth in the COC's season and repertoire has been accompanied by a corresponding growth in the company's annual budget. In the 10-year period 1980-90 the budget rose from $3.6 million to $14.6 million, the funds assembled from production revenue (40 per cent), federal, provincial and municipal grants (30 per cent), and fundraising (30 per cent). The company enjoyed four surpluses in a row in the early 2000s. In 2005-6, box office revenues were $8,919,000 and attendance was 92 per cent of capacity; box office receipts provided 40 per cent of total revenues, fundraising 34 per cent, and government only 22 per cent.

In April 2003 the company broke ground for a new theatre in Toronto - the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts - which opened in June 2006. Box office revenues alone for the 2006-7 season shot up to $16.9 million. The company continued to draw crowds in 2009-10. A number of sold-out productions, including Madama Butterfly and Robert Lepage's acclaimed The Nightingale and Other Short Fables, resulted in an average attendance of 97.6 per cent and individual ticket sales numbering more than 51,000. It was the highest number of tickets sold in the company's history.

The COC's administration has evolved to meet the needs of the company's operations, growing from seven full-time staff in 1960. In 2004 the company engaged about 120 people in all branches of its administrative and artistic operation, in addition to 55 permanently contracted members of the orchestra. There were seven departments: executive; artistic (including music, archives, and the Ensemble); production (including the scene shop); development; finance and administration; marketing; and public relations.

The COC Ensemble

From its inception the COC Ensemble proved to be a valuable training ground for many of Canada's leading young singers, including Theodore Baerg, Kimberly Barber, Odette Beaupré, Peter Blanchet, Alain Coulombe, Michael Colvin, John Fanning, Joanne Kolomyjec, Gaétan Laperrière, Linda Maguire, Brian McIntosh, Robert Milne, Wendy Nielsen, Mark Pedrotti, Gabrielle Prata, Christiane Riel, Janet Stubbs, Krisztina Szabó, Patrick Timney, Frédérique Vézina, and Irena Welhasch-Baerg.

Visiting Artists

Leading singers from outside of Canada who have sung with the COC include Martina Arroyo, Ingrid Bjoner, Richard Cassilly, David Daniels, Marilyn Horne, Siegfried Jerusalem, James McCracken, Johanna Meier, Marina Mescheriakova, Regina Resnik, Neil Shicoff, Elisabeth Söderström, Joan Sutherland, Tatiana Troyanos, Carol Vaness, and Astrid Varnay.

Conductors and Directors

Among Canadian conductors frequently engaged by the COC (besides resident conductors Barbini, Goldschmidt, and Bradshaw) have been Derek Bate, Mario Bernardi, James Craig, Victor Feldbrill, and Ettore Mazzoleni. Conductors from abroad have included Heinrich Bender, Richard Bonynge, Leopold Hager, Kenneth Montgomery, Nicola Rescigno, Julius Rudel, and Walter Susskind (when he was conductor of the Toronto Symphony). John Fenwick, Errol Gay, and Timothy Vernon have conducted many touring and COC Ensemble productions.

Canadian Opera Company

The company's stage directors have included Geiger-Torel (34 different operas), Mansouri (42 different operas), Carlos Alexander, Robert Carsen, John Copley, Peter Ebert, Atom Egoyan, Anne Ewers, Constance Fisher, François Girard, Colin Graham, Irving Guttman, Robert Lepage, Leon Major, Mavor Moore, Nicholas Muni, and Robin Phillips.

Designers, Archivists


Among its designers have been Hans Berends, Murray Laufer, Michael Levine, Lawrence Schafer, and Wolfram Skalicki (sets), Marie Day, Warren Hartman, Suzanne Mess, Amrei Skalicki, and Michael Stennett (costumes), and Wallace Russell and Michael Whitfield (lighting).

Canadian Opera Company Employment

In 1974 Joan Baillie (d 1997) founded the COC archives, which were named in her honour in 1988. Christopher Morris was assistant archivist 1988-90 and became the archivist and resource centre supervisor in 1990. Birthe Joergensen became the archivist in 1995.