Yesterday evening saw the announcement of the line up for the COC’s 2014/15 season. The usual rather prosaic press conference was replaced with a glitzy reception and main stage show featuring Brent Bambury of the COC interviewing Alexander Neef, Johannes Debus and others plus piano accompanied performances by Simone Osborne, Russel Braun, Robert Gleadow, Charlotte Burrage and Aviva Fortunata.
There were few surprises, in itself no surprise given the number of official and unofficial “leaks” this time around. There are three productions new to Toronto, all COC copros, and three revivals so it’s an “all COC” season with no rentals or other imports. Here’s what’s coming up:
Verdi – Falstaff
This is the Robert Carsen production already seen in London, New York and on a bazillion cinema screens. Gerald Finley sings the title role with Simone Osborne as Nanetta (no surprises there), Russell Braun is Ford, Amanda Echalaz is Alice Ford, Marie-Nicole Lemieux is Mustress Quickly. Johannes Debus conducts. There will be seven performances from October 3rd to November 1st 2014.
Puccini – Madama Butterfly
One of two “bums on seats” production is a revival of Brian Macdonald’s traditional but serviceable production already seen five times in Toronto since its 1990 debut. There will be twelve performances from October 10th to 31st 2014. Patricia Racette shares the title role with Kelly Kaduce. Liz DeShong is Suzuki. Pinkerton and Sharpless are also double cast with the roles being shared by Stefano Secco and Andrea Carè and Dwayne Croft and Greg Dahl. Patrick Lang conducts.
Mozart – Don Giovanni
This is the Tcherniakov production already on DVD and broadcast on TFO recently. Russell Braun sings the Don with Kyle Ketelsen as Leporello and Michael Schade as Don Ottavio (yay!). Jane Archibald is Donna Anna (also yay!) and Jennifer Holloway is Donna Elvira. Michael Hofstetter conducts. There are ten performances in January and February 2015.
Wagner – Die Walküre
This is a revival of the Atom Egoyan production seen in 2004 and 2006. Christine Goerke, as expected, sings Brünnhilde and will sing the role in Siegfried and Götterdämmerung in future seasons. The Walsungs are Clifton Forbis and Heidi Melton and Johan Reuter will sing Wotan. Johannes Debus conducts seven performances in January and February 2015.
Rossini – The Barber of Seville
The other crowd puller is a co-production from Els Comediants who created the COC’s La Cenerentola a few seasons back. It’s been seen already in Houston and Bordeaux. Joshua Hopkins sings Figaro, Alek Shrader is Almaviva and Serena Malfi and Cecelia Hall share Rosina. Rory Macdonald conducts thirteen performances from April 17 to May 22 2015.
Bartók – Blue Beard’s Castle and Schoenberg – Erwartung
Robert Lepage’s first opera production returns. First seen at the COC in 1993, it has toured to Brooklyn, Edinburgh, Melbourne and Hong Kong and now appears at the Four Seasons Centre. John Relyea sings the Duke and Ekaterina Gubanova sings Judith. Kristina Szabó sings the Woman in the Schoenberg. Johannes Debus conducts seven performances in May 2015.
So, a 56 performance season, just one down on last year but spread across one fewer production. I think it’s a fairly well balanced season and certainly it’s virtually risk free. It’s good to see some high profile new names as well as returning favourites. On the down side, I really wouldn’t care if I never saw Butterfly again, let alone in a twenty something year old revival production. Also, the most recent works on view are over a hundred years old. It’s really time something closer to contemporary came to the COC stage.