What to expect from the Canadian Opera Company this winter

The Canadian Opera Company (COC) is showcasing two exciting operas this upcoming winter season: The Barber of Seville and Hansel & Gretel.


You may think you know this classic Brothers Grimm fairy tale, but expect the unexpected in the COC’s reimagination of the fable—a unique collaboration between Canadian award-winning stage director Joel Ivany and dramaturg Katherine Syer to create something entirely new. 

In this retelling of the story, siblings Hansel and Gretel wander through modern-day Toronto in search of food, relying on their wits and each other to outsmart danger in the city. Fantastical witches aren’t the only fear on the children’s minds, however—they also experience relatable worries of the day and age, like food inequality and environmental sustainability. Innovative set design by S. Katy Tucker enhances the performance as the children’s imaginations are projected onstage, weaving storybook elements into the urban landscape. 

The role of Hansel is performed by American mezzo-soprano Emily Fons, who has been dubbed one of opera’s rising stars by Opera News. She is accompanied by COC Ensemble Studio graduate soprano Simone Osborne as Gretel, and tenor Michael Colvin makes his COC role debut as the evil witch. The orchestra is conducted by COC Music Director Johannes Debus, alongside the Canadian Children’s Opera Company singing the children’s chorus. 

Hansel & Gretel runs for seven performances at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts on February 6, 8, 11, 15, 16, 19, 21, 2020, and is sung in German with English surtitles. 

Left to right: Renato Girolami as Doctor Bartolo and Joshua Hopkins as Figaro in the Canadian Opera Company production of The Barber of Seville, 2015, photo: Michael Cooper


A classic and popular comedic opera, The Barber of Seville is a perfect choice for opera newcomers and young audiences alike, because of its familiar music and playful humour.

Follow the story of the beautiful Rosina, played by soprano Emily D’Angelo in her COC debut role, who has become orphaned but inherits a large fortune, making her a target for her riches-seeking older guardian, Bartolo. Young Count Almaviva truly loves Rosina and goes to Figaro, the witty barber who is everyone’s go-to man, for help to win her over. 

The performance features several COC debut roles, including Juliard-trained Italian conductor Speranza Scappucci leading the orchestra, Argentinian tenor Santiago Ballerini as Count Almaviva, as well as Italian baritone Vito Priante as Figaro. 

The Barber of Seville will give eight performances at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, sung in Italian with English surtitles, from January 19, 22, 25 and 30, through February 1, 2, 4 and 7, 2020.

Single tickets for both The Barber of Seville and Hansel & Gretel range from $35 to $250, with Grand Ring seats available at $290 and $350. Through the COC’s Opera Under 30 program, guests between the ages of 15 and 29 can purchase tickets for only $22. There are also specially priced tickets for guests under the age of 15. Tickets can be purchased at coc.ca, by calling 416-363-8231, or in person at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts (145 Queen St. W.)

R. Fraser Elliott Hall at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, photo: Lucia Graca

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