The Canadian Opera Company's 2012/2013 season opens with the quintessential Italian opera, Giuseppe Verdi's Il Trovatore, featuring internationally renowned Mexican tenor Ramón Vargas and acclaimed Canadian baritone Russell Braun in role debut performances. A staple of the operatic repertoire, Il Trovatore has mesmerized audiences since its premiere in 1853 with its fiery, melodramatic tale of the vengeful gypsy Azucena, her son Manrico's romance with the noblewoman Leonora, and his rivalry with Conte di Luna. Last performed by the COC in 2005, Il Trovatore returns with director Charles Roubaud's acclaimed production from Opéra de Marseille and celebrated conductor Marco Guidarini leading the COC Orchestra and Chorus through Verdi's rich score. Il Trovatore is sung in Italian with English SURTITLES™ and runs for 10 performances at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts on Sept. 29, Oct. 2, 5, 10, 13, 19, 21, 25, 28, and 31, 2012.

It's been said that all it takes for a successful performance of Il Trovatore are four of the greatest singers in the world to fulfil the demanding roles of Manrico, Conte di Luna, Azucena and Leonora. The COC has brought together a world-class cast to helm Verdi's thrilling tale of love, hate and revenge. Ramón Vargas, one of the leading tenors of our time, who last appeared with the COC for the company's 60th anniversary concert, returns to make his mainstage and role debut as the rebel troubadour Manrico. He's joined in the role by Italian tenor Riccardo Massi, who's quickly gathering international acclaim following debut performances at La Scala, Glyndebourne Festival, Staatsoper Berlin and Metropolitan Opera. Massi makes his COC debut when he sings Manrico on Oct. 28 and 31, 2012. Cast as Manrico's rival, the Conte di Luna, is internationally acclaimed Canadian baritone Russell Braun. He, too, marks a role debut with this production, returning to the company after dazzling COC audiences and critics alike in 2012's Love from Afar and 2011's Iphigenia in Tauris. Russian mezzo-soprano Elena Manistina makes her COC debut as the gypsy Azucena, bringing her vocal power and dramatic command to a role she reprises following performances at Gran Teatre del Liceu and Opéra national de Bordeaux. South African soprano Elza van den Heever makes her COC debut as the lovelorn Leonora, following a season of triumphant performances with Hamburgische Staatsoper, Oper Frankfurt, Lyric Opera of Chicago and Opéra National de Bordeaux.

Ukrainian bass Dmitry Beloselsky, a soloist with the Bolshoi Theatre who is quickly making a name for himself with performances at the Metropolitan Opera and Salzburg Festival, appears with the COC for the first time as di Luna's officer, Ferrando. COC Ensemble Studio mezzo-soprano Rihab Chaieb, recently heard in last spring's Gianni Schicchi and the Ensemble Studio performance of Semele, is Leonora's confidante, Inez; rising young Mexican-American tenor Edgar Ernesto Ramírez has his COC debut as Manrico's aide, Ruiz; COC Ensemble Studio graduate bass Robert Gleadow, recently heard as the Speaker in 2011's The Magic Flute, is the Old Gypsy; and new COC Ensemble Studio tenor Owen McCausland makes his company mainstage debut as the Messenger.

A frequent collaborator with Opéra de Marseille, director Charles Roubaud makes his COC debut with this production of Il Trovatore. Roubaud's staging purposefully places the action in Verdi's lifetime, fully capturing the world of 19th-century Italy. Sculptor Jean-Noël Lavesvre makes his COC debut designing Il Trovatore's atmospheric set that is at once castle, gypsy camp and lovers haven, as does costume designer Katia Duflot with designs that capture the shifting world of elegance to hardship in this period production. Lighting designer Marc Delamézière also works with the COC for the first time.

Last with the COC in 2009 for Verdi's Simon Boccanegra, Marco Guidarini returns to conduct another rich Verdi composition. He leads the COC Orchestra and Chorus through an unsurpassed score of melody and energy that features some of Romantic opera's most rousing and recognizable music.

Il Trovatore (The Troubadour) is based on the play El Trovador (1836) by Antonio García Gutiérrez. Within the first three years following the opera's triumphant premiere at the Teatro Apollo in Rome in 1853, 229 productions of Il Trovatore were given worldwide. The opera and its music were featured in the Marx Brothers' film, A Night at the Opera, and director Luchino Visconti used a performance of Il Trovatore at La Fenice opera house for the opening sequence of his 1954 film Senso. It continues to be one of the most performed operas in the world.

Single tickets for Il Trovatore are $12 – $325 (includes applicable taxes), and go on sale as of August 27, 2012.  Tickets are available online at, by calling 416-363-8231, or in person at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts Box Office, located at 145 Queen St. W., Monday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.