"The COC production is presented by Daniele Finzi Pasca, best known for his work with Cirque du Soleil’s Corteo and the creation of the closing ceremonies of the XX Olympic Winter Games in Torino in 2006. In Love from Afar, Finzi Pasca also serves as lighting designer, working with set designer Jean Rabasse and costume designer Kevin Pollard. He brings his signature style to a visually arresting new production that uses innovative Cirque-like techniques to extend the range of effects possible on stage. Acrobats gliding through the air, backgrounds of silk and coloured lights, and costumes with seemingly endless silken extensions seductively weave this 12th-century love affair with the 21st century."
"Sasha Djihanian was born in Montreal and is a graduate of the Conservatoire de Musique de Montréal with honours of First Prize and Great Distinction. She is a Jacqueline Desmarais Grant Holder, winner of the Third Prize at the Czech and Slovak International Competition, and Second Prize at the Gerda Lissner International Vocal Competition. Ms Djihanian was a national finalist in the 2011 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, a semi-finalist in the 2011 Queen Elisabeth Competition and a finalist in the 2011 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition. Upcoming performances include Haydn's Die Schöpfung and Micaëla in Carmen at the Teatro Petruzzelli in Bari, Italy with Lorin Maazel conducting."
Operanation 8: A Muse Ball, the fundraising gala thrown by the Canadian Opera Company in support of the Ensemble Circle was definitely the highlight of my fall event season. It was my first time attending the bash and I was blown away by how many people (over a thousand) came out to support our great musical talent. I have a bunch of photos that I'll be putting up in a future post, but for now I hope you enjoy this video I produced. The best part is the amazing clip of Rufus Wainwright performing "The Art Teacher." I was standing so close I felt like I could reach out and play some upper harmonies with him on his baby grand. Look out for cameos by the outstanding COC Musical Director, Johannes Debus, and the ever charming General Director, Alexander Neef.
Operanation 8: A Muse Ball is happening Friday, October 21, 2011. This year the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio fundraiser has chosen "the Muse" as it's theme, and has created a teaser website called The Daily Muse which features notable designers, industry insiders, film and media notables, and members of the Canadian Opera Company talking about their Muses and personal inspiration. Operanation will showcase Canadian fashion designs and custom made garments from Calla (by Calla Haynes), Joeffer Caoc, Greta Constantine (by Kirk Pickersgill and Stephen Wong), Arthur Mendonça and Ashley Rowe. These designers have created garments that reflect the personal muses of the design house, presented in the form of a fashion installation curated by RAC Boutique, with shoes provided by Holt Renfrew.
Now that fashion has been covered, let's get to the music. Rufus Wainwright will be headlining the evening and there will be a special performance by Austra in collaboration with soprano Ambur Braid and baritone Adrian Kramer, two rising opera stars from the COC’s Ensemble Studio. I love the mix of popular and opera.
Tickets to this magical night of dancing, rousing live entertainment and specialty food and drink are $150 per person, and are on sale at operanation.ca or by calling COC Ticket Services at 416-363-8231.
Cecily Carver, the Social Media Guru at the COC has posted a series of behind the scenes photos from the poster shoot on the COC blog. Check out my gallery below for a selection of those photos. Cecily's original post can be seen on the Parlando blog.
Diana Di Mauro and Mark S. Doss - Photo by Charles Leonio
In the third part of my interview with Mark S. Doss I tried to have some fun with him, asking a series of short answer questions. We talked about his idols, favourite performers, and his aspirations. He told me about the difficulty involved with being an opera singer and how his work has changed over the last twenty-five years.
Thanks again Mark!
Please enjoy the last installment of my three part interview with Mark S. Doss, filmed at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, Toronto
Mark S. Doss and Diana Di Mauro - Photo by Charles Leonio
In this second clip with Mark S. Doss, the focus is on singing and the technical demands of performing operatic repertoire. I asked him about how he trained and maintains his voice, and he sang me a few impromptu high notes. Mark loves his technology, and mentions a few singer friendly Apps while we talked about everything from the musical score, to solfeggio and scales.
Please enjoy part two of my three part interview with Mark S. Doss, filmed at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, Toronto
Mark S. Doss and Diana Di Mauro - Photo by Charles Leonio
After months of work, I'm finally ready to reveal the latest addition to Art Life and Stilettos. I will be featuring video interviews and features on artists and events alongside my coverage and musings on all things artistic, fashionable and opera related. My first interview features bass baritone Mark S. Doss, the wonderful singer who is performing this month as Thoas in Gluck's Iphigenie en Tauride at the Canadian Opera Company. It is a three part interview discussing Mark's work, his role preparation and life as an opera singer. Mark is a really interesting individual with many stories to tell and decades of experience in the industry. His sense of style (love the pocket square), matches his his rich and powerful voice perfectly, and it was a real treat having the opportunity to sit down and chat with him. Go hear him in Iphigenie this month while you can.
What I had intended to be a short interview, grew into a three-part introspective feature on Mark and his work. In this first part Mark talked to me about his current role as Thoas in Gluck's Iphigenie en Tauride at the Canadian Opera Company before talking about other Kings and larger than life characters from other operas. From the devil to John the Baptist, Mark has played a huge variety of larger than life characters. He also told me a bit about his life before he became an opera singer, which had little to do with music.
Please enjoy part one of my three part interview with Mark S. Doss, filmed at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, Toronto.
I have been so busy over the last few weeks and meaning to write some in depth reviews of the productions and concerts I have attended, but I would hate for you to read about this stuff in July, so here is a quick overview of my experience at Ariadne auf Naxos last week.
I had the opportunity to attend the COC's opening night (4:30pm!?!) performance of Ariadne auf Naxos last weekend. Why on earth start an opera at 4:30pm on a Saturday? I made it through the entrance prior to the overture, was in the elevator prior to the overture, but by the time I reached my floor the music had started. I was literally seconds late. Was I allowed to enter the theatre and sit in my single seat directly on the other side of the door? No. Now, I hate a disruption but I'm talking about side ring seats which are all separate, kind of like a long private box, ie. barely anyone would notice you scoot in and sit down. Fine, I accepted my fate of having to watch the entire first act on the atrium television along with what amounted to as many as 40 patrons watching from a single plasma TV alongside me. This situation could have been acceptable, but one thing was not: THE TV HAD NO SOUND. Can I repeat that? No sound. That means I had to watch the entire first act of a two act opera without sound. Oh, okay, fine, they were gently pumping sound from the auditorium through the lobby intercom system, but the low volume and poor transmission made it feel like I was listening to a version of musical white noise, rather than a brilliant Straussian opera. The single shot camera mounted somewhere at the back of the theatre meant that I could barely make out any of the practically silent stage action either. COC, if you aren't going to have late seating or even the option to stand at the back of the theatre (as was the case in the past) then please make the atrium viewing experience worthy of the money I paid for the ticket. I'm not asking for the VIP experience, but seriously, provide us with sound at the very least.
Once I got into the theatre for the second act I relaxed and enjoyed the experience. Well, almost. Adrienne Pieczonka who was to play Ariadne was unfortunately ill with a virus. She was replaced on very short notice by Amber Wagner, from the Ryan Opera Center at Chicago Lyric Opera. She did a very good job considering she was a last minute replacement, and kudos to her for standing up to the challenge. Unfortunately, the chemistry between her and Bacchus, Played by Richard Margison, was non-existent. Margison has had a fantastic career and loads of experience,which meant that I expected a lot more from him. His portrayal of the god Bacchus was lacklustre and his singing seemed somewhat laborious in the upper register. Overall, during "the opera" I felt that the buttery, expansive tonal colouring that makes Strauss' music so sumptuous was missing. Jane Archibald was a precise and entertaining Zerbinetta and I will refrain from discussing her singing since she was suffering from a chest infection at the time of the performance.
The production runs for eight performances at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts on April 30, May 3, 12, 15, 18, 21, 27 and 29, 2011.
It has been a very busy Easter weekend for Art Life and Stilettos. Between Opera Atelier, The Met Opera Broadcast, the Canadian Opera Company's spring productions, and buying cute bunny themed gifts for the girls in my life, I am spent. For those of you who have a couple of hours to spare why not attend a production this evening? Tonight is opening night of the Canadian Opera Company's production of La Cenerentola (Cinderella) by Rossini. His is a wonderful adaptation of the classic fable that is a perfect showpiece for coloratura mezzo. American soprano Elizabeth DeShong will be dazzling the audience as Cinderella, you may remember her as Hermia in the COC’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 2009. Tenor Lawrence Brownlee is her Prince, Don Ramiro – a role he sang in a recent Metropolitan Opera HD broadcast. Ramiro’s valet, Dandini, is sung by COC favourite, baritone Brett Polegato (2009’s Madama Butterfly and 2008’s Don Giovanni). American bass-baritone Kyle Ketelsen, (2001’s The Girl of the Golden West) returns to sing Ramiro’s tutor, Alidoro, who befriends Angelina. Italian bass Donato DiStefano (2007’s The Marriage of Figaro) is the evil stepfather Don Magnifico. Angelina’s wicked stepsisters, Clorinda and Tisbe, are played by two rising young stars of the COC Ensemble Studio, soprano Ileana Montalbetti, whose Elettra in last season’s Ensemble performance of Idomeneo was highly praised, and mezzo-soprano Rihab Chaieb, most recently seen as one of Chairman Mao’s secretaries in the COC’s critically-acclaimed Nixon in China.
Italian conductor Leonardo Vordoni makes his COC debut with this production. A former staff member of the Metropolitan Opera, Vordoni made his conducting debut in 2008 at the internationally renowned Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro, Italy, followed by what critics have called a “scintillating” debut performance at the prestigious Wexford Opera Festival. He is married to Joyce Di Donato and she may or may not be attending tonight's performance...
It doesn't have to cost your Alexander Wang budget to attend the opera, in fact there are a number of ways to attend that will cost you less than a subscription to Vogue. Here is the low down on your ticket options, along with my handy (guide) to each group:
Standing Room (Stay fit and Watch Opera) Standing Room tickets for only $12 go on sale at 11 a.m. on the morning of each performance at the Four Seasons Centre Box Office. Limit of two tickets per person. Subject to availability.
Young People (Those under 5 feet tall may actually like opera) Special young people’s tickets are priced from $31 to $95, plus applicable taxes. These ticket prices apply to those who are 15 years of age or under, accompanied by and sitting next to an adult.
Opera for a New Age (How Art Life and Stilettos rolls, just say I sent you) Patrons between the ages of 16 and 29 may purchase $22 Opera for a New Age tickets as of Sat., April 9, 2011 at 10 a.m., online at coc.ca or in person at the Four Seasons Centre Box Office. Opera for a New Age is presented by TD Bank Financial Group.
Student Group Tickets (Bring your whole crew, then invite me to the after-party) Student group tickets are $22 per student and may be purchased by calling 416-306-2356. Rush Seats (Just show up) Rush seats, starting at $22 and subject to availability, go on sale at 11 a.m. on the morning of each performance at the Four Seasons Centre Box Office.
Tickets for Cinderella are available online at coc.ca, by calling 416-363-8231 or in person at the Four Seasons Centre Box Office (145 Queen St. W., Toronto). Sung in Italian with English SURTITLES™, Cinderella runs for nine performances at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts on April 23, 28, May 1, 7, 10, 13, 19, 22 and 25, 2011.
Now for the photos. Here is a sneak peak at the costumes and wigs that will make an appearance this evening, courtesy of the lovely Cecily Carver and the COC.
(l–r) Tamara Wilson as Clorinda, Earle Patriarco as Dandini, and Catherine Cook as Tisbe in the Houston Grand Opera’s production of La Cenerentola, 2007. Photo: Brett Coomer January, 2007
(l–r) D'arcy Bleiker as Harlequin and Katarzyna Dondalska as Zerbinetta) in the Welsh National Opera’s production ofAriadne auf Naxos, 2004. Photo: Clive Barda
Tomorrow is a big day for fans of the Canadian Opera Company as you will have two separate opportunities to see, hear and speak to some of your favourite singers, and the best part is that both events are free. Yes, you read that correctly.
The event that has the most unique format is Opera 101, and this session features tenor Richard Margison and Soprano Jane Archibald talking with host Brent Bambury from the CBC. The singer's will be talking about their upcoming production of Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos. The event takes place at the Drake Hotel which is a great venue for this sort of thing. It's very intimate and they make a killer Porn Star martini. Just saying...
The second event is The 2011 Christina and Louis Quilico Awards in support of extraordinary young artists. This year the COC Ensemble Studio members will compete for the awards by singing arias in front of judges Alexander Neef, General Director of the COC, David Speers, Artistic Director of Opera Hamilton, and John Hess, Co-Artistic Director of Queen of Puddings Music Theatre.
This vocal competition is free and open to the public, with doors opening at 5:00 p.m. Seating will be available on a first-come, first-served basis, and is limited.
The COC Ensemble Studio's Wallis Giunta, a mezzo-soprano who has charmed critics with her creamy voice and charismatic stage presence, is collaborating with noted Canadian couturier McCaffrey Haute Couture. She will be featured modelling David McCaffrey's gowns in print and online ads, and McCaffrey will supply custom-made gowns for her upcoming recitals.
...and here is their dramatic new logo. Please ignore the poor quality, I snapped it from my brochure.
Now for the really interesting information. In case you have missed it, Canadian Opera Company announced its 2011-2012 season on Wednesday morning during a very elegant reception at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre, Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. They warmed up the crowd of media, sponsors, artists, conductors, COC staff, and opera enthusiasts with a short, entertaining teaser video featuring artists from the upcoming season.
How many times have you watched an opera and wanted desperately to tell the director what you really thought about the production? Or perhaps you had a question about how the soprano managed to pull off such a glorious pianissimo high C in Act II? Well, the Canadian Opera Company is giving you that chance. On Saturday, December 4, during the CBC Radio 2 Saturday Afternoon at the Opera broadcast of Verdi’s Aida, you have the chance to do exactly that. Kind of like giving you your own, personalized, running commentary for the entire show.