COC to Present Family-Friendly Production of THE MAGIC VICTROLA
This December, opera's youngest fans can experience a production created just for them with the Canadian Opera Company's new, family-friendly presentation of The Magic Victrola.
Offered through the company's new Opera for Young Audiences program, the one-act opera features some of the greatest hits by Bizet, Delibes, Donizetti, Mozart, Offenbach, and Puccini, sung by rising stars of the COC Ensemble Studio.
Four public performances take place on December 2 and 3, 2017 at the Imperial Oil Opera Theatre in Toronto.
Opera for Young Audiences aims to engage the next generation of opera-goers with fully staged productions that are accessible to children and youth. Tickets to the public performances are free for children under 12 (to a maximum of two free children's tickets for each adult ticket sold), making the operatic experience further accessible to young people. The Magic Victrola is 55 minutes in length and is sung in Italian, French, and German, with the dialogue spoken in English. It is suitable for children ages 5 - 12 years old. Each performance ends with a 10-minute Q&A session with the cast and crew.
"With Opera for Young Audiences, the COC is able to provide an accessible entry point for children to discover the wonders of opera," says COC General Director Alexander Neef. "The Magic Victrola, with its familiar music and engaging staging, is not only a perfect first opera for young people, but it's also enjoyable for kids-and kids at heart-who are more familiar with the art form."
The production features current and former artists of the COC Ensemble Studio, Canada's premier training program for young opera professionals, as characters from famous operas brought to life by a magical Victrola phonograph. With an original libretto by David Kersnar and Jacqueline Russell, the opera includes some of the most popular arias of the operatic repertoire, including works from Mozart's The Magic Flute, Offenbach's The Tales of Hoffmann, Puccini's Gianni Schicchi, Delibe's Lakmé, and Bizet's Carmen.
Tenor Andrew Haji, a recent graduate of The Ensemble Studio, sings the operatic characters of Tamino and Nemorino. He is joined by current Ensemble Studio artists, soprano Samantha Pickett as Gracie and Sam's mother, and First Lady; baritones Samuel Chan and Bruno Roy, sharing the role of Papageno; soprano Danika Lorèn as Olympia, Lakmé, and Papagena; mezzo-soprano Simone McIntosh as Mallika, Carmen, and Second Lady; soprano Lauren Eberwein as Lauretta; and mezzo-soprano Megan Quick as Third Lady.
The cast is rounded out by three actors whose characters set the opera's action in motion. Real-life sister and brother, Megan and James Dunn, play Gracie and Sam, two mischievous children who discover the mysterious Victrola in their grandfather's attic. Gemini Award-nominated Canadian actor Ardon Bess is Grandpa.
This new COC production of The Magic Victrola reunites Dora Award-winning director Ashlie Corcoran (revival director of the COC's 2017 production of The Magic Flute) and designer Camellia Koo, the duo behind the COC's inventive school tour productions of The Bremen Town Musicians and Second Nature. Combined with Corcoran's engaging staging and lighting design by Davida Tkach, young audiences will be surprised and delighted by Koo's set that recreates an old attic and incorporates a few theatrical surprises.
To fully immerse the audience in the world of The Magic Victrola, patrons can participate in free hands-on activities related to the opera's themes one hour before each performance. Composer and artist-educator Chris Thornborrow will also lead an interactive opera creation workshop, guiding participants through some elements of creating an opera, in advance of the afternoon performances on December 2 and 3.
Four performances of The Magic Victrola, taking place on November 29 and December 1, are open to student audiences and community groups. School groups attending these performances at the Imperial Oil Opera Theatre are also offered a complimentary in-school workshop, led by a COC artist-educator, that explores the opera's themes and further deepens the students' understanding of the art form.
IF YOU GO:
THE MAGIC VICTROLA
Libretto by: David Kersnar and Jacqueline Russell
Music by: Bizet, Delibes, Donizetti, Mozart, Offenbach and Puccini
First Performance: Lyric Unlimited (The Lyric Opera of Chicago), 2015, Civic Opera House, Chicago
In The Magic Victrola, siblings Gracie and Sam discover a mysterious trunk in their grandfather's attic, full of costumes, opera recordings, and an old-fashioned record player-a Victrola. As they begin to play it, scenes from great operas by Bizet, Mozart, Puccini and more magically come to life before them.
Cast and Creative Team:
Director: Ashlie Corcoran
Music Directors: Rachael Kerr/Stéphane Mayer
Set and Costume Designer: Camellia Koo
Lighting Designer: Davida Tkach
Grandpa: Ardon Bess
Gracie: Megan Dunn
Sam: James Dunn
Mother/First Lady: Samantha Pickett
Papageno: Samuel Chan/Bruno Roy
Olympia/Lakmé/Papagena: Danika Lorèn
Nemorino/Tamino: Andrew Haji
Mallika/Carmen/Second Lady: Simone McIntosh
Lauretta: Lauren Eberwein
Third Lady: Megan Quick
All performances take place in the Imperial Oil Opera Theatre at the Joey and Toby Tanenbaum Opera Centre (227 Front St. E., at Berkeley Street). Tickets are FREE for children under 12 (maximum of two free children's tickets for each adult ticket sold). Tickets for adults are $30 and additional children's tickets are $10 each. To purchase tickets, visit coc.ca, call COC Ticket Services at 416-363-8231, or visit the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts Box Office (145 Queen St. W.).
The COC Ensemble Studio is Canada's premier training program for young opera professionals. Since the inception of the program in 1980, over 230 young professional Canadian singers, opera coaches, stage directors and conductors have acquired their first major professional operatic experience through The Ensemble Studio. Former members include Ben Heppner, Isabel Bayrakdarian, John Fanning, Wendy Nielsen, Joseph Kaiser, Allyson McHardy, David Pomeroy, Lauren Segal and Krisztina Szabó.
The members of The Ensemble Studio are the COC's resident artists and important ambassadors for the company. They 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.
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 Canadian Opera Company, visit coc.ca.