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Canadian Opera Company's Ensemble Studio Recruits Seven New Artists

Toronto - The Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio, Canada's premier training program for young opera professionals, welcomes seven outstanding new artists for the 2016/2017 season: sopranos Danika Lorènand Samantha Pickett, mezzo-sopranos Emily D'Angelo, Lauren Eberwein and Megan Quick, baritone Bruno Roy, and pianist Stéphane Mayer. The seven artists join the Ensemble Studio in August 2016 and become part of an illustrious program that, since its inception in 1980, has launched the careers of over 215 Canadian singers, opera coaches, mainstage directors and conductors.

D'Angelo, Eberwein and Roy were the top prize winners this past November at the COC's fifth annual Ensemble Studio Competition, a vocal showcase of young artists vying for a spot in the program. Pickett is a fellow 2015 competition finalist, and Lorèn and Quick are two singers who impressed the COC artistic administration during the preliminary auditions for the Ensemble Studio this past fall.

"We've assembled an exceptional group of artists to join the COC next season," says COC General Director Alexander Neef. "This group is young in their careers but are poised to take that next step in becoming Canada's future opera stars. It will be exciting to watch their talent grow and develop through the training and experience the Ensemble Studio has to offer."

Members of the Ensemble Studio receive a blend of advanced study and practical experience through an individually tailored, multi-year program, involving understudying and performing mainstage roles, intensive vocal coaching, language and acting studies, and career skills development, as well as participation in masterclasses with internationally renowned opera professionals. In addition, they appear in a showcase performance on the COC's mainstage, give several concert performances and perform in the COC's annual school tour.

The new and returning artists of the Ensemble Studio open the 16/17 season of the Free Concert Series in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre with Meet the Young Artists in September 2016. Next fall, they'll also participate in the COC's annual Ensemble Studio School Tour, providing school-aged audiences throughout Ontario with an introduction to the world of opera. Then on February 23, 2017, the young artists have their moment to shine on the mainstage of the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, performing an evening of operatic scenes with COC Music Director Johannes Debus leading the celebrated COC Orchestra in the Ensemble Studio Showcase.

Lorèn, Pickett, D'Angelo, Eberwein, Quick, Roy and Mayer join four returning members of the Ensemble Studio for the 16/17 season: soprano Karine Boucher, tenors Aaron Sheppard and Charles Sy, and pianist Hyejin Kwon.

Toronto native mezzo-soprano Emily D'Angelo is the first prize and audience choice award winner of the COC's 2015 Ensemble Studio Competition, and a recent winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Buffalo/Toronto District Auditions. D'Angelo is in her final year of her bachelor of music in voice at the University of Toronto, where she was the 2015 recipient of the Jim and Charlotte Norcop Prize in Song. Operatic credits include Sesto in Giulio Cesare (Halifax Summer Opera Festival); Nerone in L'incoronazione di Poppea; Annio in La clemenza di Tito (Centre for Opera Studies in Italy); Berta in The Barber of Seville (Opera York); and Cherubino in scenes from The Marriage of Figaro (UofT Opera). D'Angelo has participated in young artists programs at the Ravinia Festival, SongFest at Colburn, and Boston University Tanglewood Institute. She made her solo debut with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in 2011.

Mezzo-soprano Lauren Eberwein is the second prize winner of the COC's 2015 Ensemble Studio Competition. She is a native of Qualicum Beach, BC, studies at the Curtis Institute of Music and is a member of Opera Philadelphia's Emerging Artist Program. Her credits include Baba the Turk in The Rake's Progress, The Composer in Ariadne auf Naxos, Zita in Gianni Schicchi, Tisbe in La Cenerentola, Mère Marie in Dialogues des Carmélites, Second Lady in The Magic Flute, and Dido in Dido and Aeneas (Curtis Opera Theater), as well as Sorrel and Dodo in Double Exposure with Opera Philadelphia. She was a featured soloist with the Curtis Baroque Ensemble, and the Curtis and Maryland symphony orchestras. She also began her residency at The Marlboro Music Festival this past summer. This season, she appears at Opera Philadelphia as Olivia in Cold Mountain and Clairon in Cappriccio, and makes her Carnegie Hall debut singing Handel's Israel in Egypt with the New York Choral Society.

A native of Saskatoon, soprano Danika Lorèn is a recent winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Buffalo/Toronto District Auditions and 2015 recipient of the University of Toronto Concerto Competition. Her roles include Monica in The Medium, Lady with a Hand Mirror in Postcard from Morocco, Mimì in La Bohème, Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi, Frasquita in Carmen, Pamina/2nd Lady in The Magic Flute, Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro, and Rosina in The Barber of Seville. Orchestral appearances include Richard Strauss' Op. 27 with the University of Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Fauré's Requiem with the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra and Mozart's Coronation Mass with the London Fanshawe Chorus. In recital, Lorèn has appeared with internationally acclaimed singers Stephanie Blythe, Adrianne Pieczonka and Catherine Wyn-Rogers. She is also a founding member of Collectìf: an artist collective dedicated to exploring art song as theatre. Lorèn completed her bachelor's degree at UofT, where she is currently earning a master's degree. Future engagements include Tiny in Paul Bunyan (UofT Opera) and Rosina in The Barber of Seville (Saskatoon Opera).

Pianist Stéphane Mayer is a graduate of McGill's Schulich School of Music in Montreal and has studied under the tutelage of acclaimed Canadian pianists Kyoko Hashimoto and Michael McMahon. He has served as an opera répétiteur for productions of The Marriage of Figaro and Ariadne auf Naxos (Opera NUOVA) and Don Giovanni (McGill University), and as the pit pianist for Into the Woods (Musical Theatre Montreal). As a piano accompanist, he has assisted vocal coaches and instructors from the Metropolitan Opera at the internationally renowned Canadian Vocal Arts Festival, and studied alongside noted interpreters of German Lied: Elly Ameling, Robert Holl, Julius Drake, Andreas Schmidt and Roger Vignoles, at the Franz-Schubert Institut in Baden bei Wien, Austria. Mayer recently served as vocal coach and accompanist at Western University in London, Ontario, working in the studios of Canadian artists Theodore Baerg, Patricia Green and Tom Wiebe.

Soprano Samantha Pickett is originally from Kitchener, Ontario, and studied opera at McGill and Wilfrid Laurier universities. Her credits include Anna in Crush (Banff Centre); the Countess in The Marriage of Figaro (Opera McGill and Opera Laurier); La Ciesca in Gianni Schicchi, understudy for the title role in Suor Angelica and Elle in La voix humaine (Opera McGill); Micaëla in Carmen and Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni (Opera NUOVA); Mrs. Demers in City Workers in Love, Lady Gerstein in One Lump or Two, Sophia in May 23, and First Lady in The Magic Flute (Opera Laurier). Pickett recently participated in the St. Andrews by-the-Sea Opera Workshop and the Bel Canto Summer Voice Program in Munich.

Mezzo-soprano Megan Quick is a native of Brockville, Ont., and is currently completing her diploma in operatic performance at the University of Toronto. Her credits include Dido in Dido and Aeneas, Eva in Comedy on the Bridge, and Zita in Gianni Schicchi at Dalhousie University, where she earned a bachelor of music. While at Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, pursuing a masters in performance, Quick was part of the opera choruses in stagings of Ned Rorem's Our Town and Otto Nicolai's Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor. Her recent engagements include performances of Edward Elgar's Sea Pictures and Gustav Mahler's Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (Isle of Wight Symphony Orchestra), as well as Little Buttercup in HMS Pinafore, Baba in The Medium and The Fatal Gaze and The Art of the Prima Donna (UofT Opera). Later this season, Quick sings Moppet in Paul Bunyan (UofT Opera).

Montreal-born baritone Bruno Roy is the third prize winner of the COC's 2015 Ensemble Studio Competition, and is currently studying for his master of music performance at McGill University, where he also received his bachelor's degree. His recent operatic credits include Count Almaviva in The Marriage of Figaro (Opera McGill); Matt in Crush (Banff Centre); L'Horloge/Le Chat in L'enfant et les sortilèges (Opera on the Avalon); Papageno in The Magic Flute (Blooming Voce Summer Opera Workshop); Masetto in Don Giovanni (FAVA Opera); and Raoul de Gardefeu in La Vie Parisienne (Opera Without Fences). In 2016, he appears as John Brooke in Little Women and Belcore in L'elisir d'amore at Opera McGill.

COC General Director Alexander Neef extends the company's congratulations to soprano Aviva Fortunata, tenors Jean-Philippe Fortier-Lazure and Andrew Haji, baritone Gordon Bintner, bass-baritone Iain MacNeil and pianist Jennifer Szeto, who graduate from the Ensemble Studio program at the end of the 2015/2016 season. Before leaving the program, these young artists can be heard in several performances.

The Ensemble Studio performance of the COC's mainstage production of The Marriage of Figaro takes place on February 22, 2016. This special presentation stars Bintner, Fortier-Lazure, Fortunata and MacNeil. Additional mainstage performances include apperances by Fortier-Lazure in the mainstage production of The Marriage of Figaro and Carmen, Haji in Maometto II and MacNeil in Carmen.

The graduating artists can be heard in six upcoming noon-hour recitals through the COC's Free Concert Series at the Four Seasons Centre:

  • January 19, 2016 - Bintner and Ensemble Studio tenor Charles Sy present a program comprised of two song cycles: Schumann's Liederkreis and Britten's Les Illuminations.
  • January 22, 2016 - Fortier-Lazure presents Fauré's song cycle, La bonne chanson, accompanied by members of the COC Orchestra Academy and pianist Anne Larlee.
  • March 29, 2016 - Fortier-Lazure and Haji team up with fellow Ensemble Studio tenors Aaron Sheppard and Charles Sy in a program featuring arias and ensembles that showcase the beauty of the tenor voice.
  • April 28, 2015 - Fortier-Lazure and MacNeil perform alongside singers from the l'Opéra de Montréal young artist program in a recital of arias and ensembles.
  • May 10, 2016 - Fortunata and MacNeil perform a special concert featuring John Greer's arrangements for singer and piano quintet of Strauss' Four Last Songs, and Vaughan Williams' Songs of Travel.
  • May 17, 2016 - Artists of the COC Ensemble Studio give a special farewell performance, Les Adieux: Moonlit Night, with a program featuring Haji performing Britten's Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings.

The COC Ensemble Studio, underwritten in part by Peter M. Deeb, RBC Foundation and The Slaight Family Foundation, is Canada's premier training program for young opera professionals and provides advanced instruction, hands-on experience, and career development opportunities. The Ensemble Studio is also supported by the Government of Canada, the Hal Jackman Foundation and other generous donors.

About the Canadian Opera Company
Based in Toronto, the Canadian Opera Company is the largest producer of opera in Canada and one of the largest in North America. The COC enjoys a loyal audience support-base and one of the highest attendance and subscription rates in North America. Under its leadership team of General Director Alexander Neef and Music Director Johannes Debus, the COC is increasingly capturing the opera world's attention. The COC maintains its international reputation for artistic excellence and creative innovation by creating new productions within its diverse repertoire, collaborating with leading opera companies and festivals, and attracting the world's foremost Canadian and international artists. The COC performs in its own opera house, the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, hailed internationally as one of the finest in the world. Designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects, the Four Seasons Centre opened in 2006. For more information on the COC, visit its award-winning website,

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