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More new voices for the COC

L. Eberwein, E. D’Angelo & B. Roy (© Michael Cooper)

The Canadian Opera Company’s annual gala, called Centre Stage, during which young artists are selected for entry into the company’s Ensemble Studio, has become a November bright spot. This year there were eight contestants (two sopranos, four mezzo-sopranos, and two baritones) selected from 120 applicants from across the country.

The eight singers spent a week in Toronto preparing their arias with the COC’s orchestra and Music Director Johannes Dubus, as well as being kitted out with gowns and suits courtesy of the Hudson Bay Company.

As in past years, each singer sang two arias. A panel of five COC staff members (led by General Director Alexander Neef) selected three winners. The evening was hosted (very ably) by two current members of the Ensemble Studio, mezzo-soprano Karine Boucher, who gained the top prize in 2013, and tenor Charles Sy, last year’s winner.

The winners: in third place was baritone Bruno Roy from Montreal, where he is studying for his masters degree at McGill University. He performed a skillfully modulated “Bella siccome un angelo” from Donizetti’s Don Pasquale, then “Hai vinta la causa” from Le nozze di Figaro.

Coming in second was Lauren Eberwein, a mezzo-soprano from British Columbia currently studying at the Curtis Institute. She is already a member of Opera Philadelphia’s Emerging Artist Program. Her first aria was a remarkably assured performance of “Sein wir wieder gut”, the Composer’s aria from Ariadne auf Naxos, and her second one was “Parto, parto” from La clemenza di Tito.

Winning the top prize, as well as the audience choice award, was Emily D’Angelo of Toronto, where she is in her final year for a BMus. at the University of Toronto. In spite of being on crutches (due to an injured foot or leg - the show must go on!), she impressed with “Voi che sapete” from Le nozze di Figaro and then “Contro un cor” from Il barbiere di Siviglia.

While the panel discussed their results, we were treated to three arias sung by cast members from the company’s current production of La traviata. Tenor Andrew Haji (who is in his third and final year in the Ensemble Studio) sang des Grieux’s “En fermant les yeux” from Massenet’s Manon, then soprano Joyce El-Khouri sang “The Hymn to the Moon” from Dvorák’s Rusalka, then the “Jewel Song” from Gounod’s Faust.

Decorative elements from the La traviata set, plus effective lighting, created a dazzling backdrop and, as in the previous galas, the young singers all looked as if they truly belong on the stage of the Four Seasons Centre.

Michael Johnson



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