Karita Mattila, Thomas Hampson & Angel Blue Headline Canadian Opera Company 2018-19 Season

By Francisco Salazar

The Canadian Opera Company has announced its 2018-19 season filled with numerous classics and a world premiere. And there is also a major surprise.

As in previous years, the season will include six productions divided into three pairs, for the fall, winter and spring seasons.

The season will open on Sept. 30, 2018, with “Eugene Onegin” in Robert Carsen’s classic production. Bass-baritone Gordon Bintner sings the title role while Joyce El-Khoury, last seen as Violetta with the company, returns as Tatiana. Joseph Kaiser takes on his signature Lensky while mezzo Varduhi Abrahamyan sings the role of Olga. Bass Oleg Tsibulko rounds out the cast as Prince Gremin and music director Johannes Debus conducts.

Performance Dates: Sept. 30 – Nov. 3 (8 performances)

On Oct. 13  world premiere of the COC commissioned piece, “Hadrian,” by Canadian songwriter/singer/composer Rufus Wainwright will be presented. The all-star cast will include baritone Thomas Hampson in the title role, and Finnish soprano Karita Mattila in the role of Plotina. Tenor Isaiah Bell and Ambur Braid round out the cast with Ben Heppner returning to the stage in a cameo role as Dinarchus. Debus conducts.

Performance Dates: Oct. 13 – 27 (7 performances)

On Jan. 26, 2019, soprano Christine Goerke sings the title role of “Elektra” in Strauss’ masterpiece. She is joined by soprano Susan Bullock as Klytemnestra and soprano Erin Wall who takes on her first Chrysothemis. Bass Wilhelm Schwinghammer makes his COC debut as Orest, and Canadian tenor Michael Schade is Aegisth. Debus conducts.

Performance Dates: Jan. 26 – Feb. 22 (7 performances)

“Elektra” will be followed by Mozart’s “Così Fan Tutte” on Feb. 5, 2019. Atom Egoyan’s production will be revived with soprano Kirsten MacKinnon and mezzo Emily D’Angelo and Russell Braun as Don Alfonso. Tracy Dahl sings Despina while tenor Ben Bliss and baritone Johannes Kammler make their COC debuts as Fernando and Gugliemo. Mozart specialist Bernard Labadie conducts.

Performance Dates: Feb. 5 – 23 (9 performances)

“La Bohème” takes the stage on April 17, 2019 with Angle Blue in her COC debut. She shares the role with soprano Miriam Khalil, a COC Ensemble graduate. Meanwhile, Musetta is shared by sopranos Andriana Chuchman and Danika Loren, an Ensemble Studio artist. Tenor Atalla Ayan makes his COC debut as Rodolfo, sharing it with Joshua Guerrero. Baritone Lucas Meacham and Polish baritone Andrej Filonczyk share Marcello. Maestro Paolo Carignani conducts.

Performance Dates: April 17 – May 22 (11 performances)

The season concludes with Verdi’s masterpiece “Otello” on April 27, 2019 in a new production by David Alden. The production from the ENO is set to star tenor Russell Thomas in the title role with baritone Gerald Finley as Iago in his role debut. Soprano Tamara Wilson returns as Desdemona and Debus conducts.

Performance Date: April 27 – May 21 (8 performances)