COC WELCOMES RISING YOUNG OPERA STARS TO 2004/05 ENSEMBLE STUDIO
Toronto, Ontario – The Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio is proud to announce four new young artists for the 2004/05 season. Mezzo-soprano Michèle Bogdanowicz, soprano Joni Henson, tenor Victor Micallef, and accompanist and coach Susan Black join returning members baritone Peter Barrett, bass Robert Gleadow, baritone Peter McGillivray and tenor Luc Robert. Beginning its 24th season, the COC Ensemble Studio is widely recognized as the country’s best performance and training program for young opera professionals.
Ensemble Studio members participate in a diverse and challenging program, taking master classes with internationally recognized professionals in the area of operatic training. They also have the opportunity to not only understudy but perform leading and supporting roles in COC mainstage productions at Toronto’s Hummingbird Centre for the Performing Arts. In addition, each year the COC showcases the talent of the Ensemble Studio with a performance or workshop; this year’s production is Benjamin Britten’s Albert Herring, which runs November 30, December 2, 3 and 5 (m), 2004 at the Harbourfront Centre Theatre.
New Ensemble Studio mezzo-soprano Michèle Bogdanowicz made her COC debut last season in the Ensemble Studio production of Dido and Aeneas and The Coffee Cantata. A graduate of the University of Toronto’s Opera School, she has appeared at the Orford Festival, the Aldeburgh Festival and the Brevard Music Centre Festival as well as with the St. Lawrence String Quartet and the Toronto Sinfonietta. This season with the COC she sings New Ofglen in The Handmaid’s Tale and Florence Pike in Albert Herring.
Soprano Joni Henson is a recent graduate of the University of Toronto’s Opera School and has also studied at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, California. In 2003, she competed in two of Europe’s premier music competitions and was awarded the Opera Grand Prize at the XVth Concours International de Chant de Verviers in Belgium and the First Place Opera Award at the Concours International de Chant de Marmande in France. She makes her COC mainstage debut as Alisa in Lucia di Lammermoor followed by Lady Billows in Albert Herring and Inez in Il Trovatore.
Maltese-Canadian tenor Victor Micallef is a graduate of the University of Western Ontario’s Bachelor of Music Arts in Voice Performance and continued his studies in Toronto, New York and most recently in Italy, where he’s attended Oberlin College’s Lieder and Opera Workshops in Casalmaggiore. This young tenor has appeared in concert on numerous occasions in Europe, performing under conductors Daniel Oren, Zubin Mehta and Claudio Abbado, among others. He makes his COC mainstage debut as Luke in The Handmaid’s Tale followed by Ruiz in Il Trovatore.
Pianist and singer Susan Black holds a Master’s degree in Voice Performance from the University of Toronto. In recent years, she has served as an opera coach and vocal accompanist for the U of T and the Royal Conservatory of Music as well as a vocal accompanist for the prestigious Mozarteum in Salzburg.
Ensemble baritone Peter Barrett returns this season as Nick in The Handmaid’s Tale and the Vicar/Sid in Albert Herring. Baritone Peter McGillivray recently appeared at the Tanglewood Music Centre as Demetrius in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He returns to the COC to sing the roles of the Vicar/Sid in Albert Herring and Schaunard in La Bohème. Tenor Luc Robert returns as Arturo in Lucia di Lammermoor and in the title role in Albert Herring. Nineteen-year-old Ensemble bass Robert Gleadow recently won the Toti Dal Monte International Competition for Singers, awarding him the role of Basilio in Il barbiere di Siviglia to be performed in Treviso, Italy this December and then in Portugal. This season, Mr. Gleadow sings the roles of Colline in La Bohème and the Old Gypsy in Il Trovatore.
COC General Director Richard Bradshaw extends the company’s warmest congratulations to tenor Peter Collins, sopranos Colleen Skull and Frédérique Vézina and coach Kinza Tyrell, who all completed the 2003/04 Ensemble Studio program. Mr. Collins and Ms Vézina both return to the COC in September in The Handmaid’s Tale as Commander X and Ofglen respectively. Other Ensemble graduates making appearances with the COC include mezzo-sopranos Sonya Gosse (The Handmaid’s Tale, Albert Herring), Andrea Ludwig (The Handmaid’s Tale, Albert Herring) and Krisztina Szabó (The Handmaid’s Tale, Albert Herring, La Bohème), soprano Jennie Such (The Handmaid’s Tale) and tenors Stephen McClare (The Handmaid’s Tale, Il Trovatore) and Michael Colvin (Tancredi).
The members of the Ensemble Studio are the COC’s resident artists and are important ambassadors for the company. They receive specialized training and participate in the Zellers Ensemble Studio School Tour, providing young people throughout Ontario with an introduction to the world of opera. Since its inception in 1980, more than 140 young professional Canadian singers, opera coaches, and stage directors have acquired their first major professional operatic experience through the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio. Chosen through a national audition process, members of the Ensemble Studio receive a blend of advanced study and practical experience over a period of one to three years.
Single tickets for the Ensemble Studio production of Albert Herring went on sale August 16, 2004 and may be purchased by calling the COC Box Office at 416-363-8231, or in person at the COC Box Office, 227 Front St. East, Toronto, Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Ticket prices for all performances are $60. For more information on Albert Herring and the COC Ensemble Studio, visit www.coc.ca.
Subscriptions for the COC’s 2004/05 season may be purchased by calling 416-363-8231, toll-free at
1-800-250-4563, or in person at the COC Box Office, 227 Front St. East, Toronto. Patrons can also purchase subscriptions securely online at www.coc.ca .
The COC Ensemble Studio 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 generously supported by the Government of Canada through the Department of Canadian Heritage, The John A. Cook Young Artist Development Fund, Harris Steel Group, The Henry N.R. Jackman Foundation, Ruby Mercer Fund, George Cedric Metcalf Charitable Foundation, Roger D. Moore Ensemble Studio Endowment Fund, RBC Financial Group, and an anonymous donor.
2004/05 Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio
Peter Barrett, Baritone
2004/05 season: Nick, The Handmaid’s Tale; Enrico (understudy), Lucia di Lammermoor; The Vicar/Sid, Albert Herring; Marcello (understudy), La Bohème
Last season, Ensemble Studio baritone Peter Barrett performed the role of Aeneas in Dido and Aeneas, Schlendrian in The Coffee Cantata, a Mandarin in Turandot and Marullo in Rigoletto. He also covered the roles of Ned Keene in Peter Grimes and Ping in Turandot. His other roles include Papageno in The Magic Flute and Guglielmo in Così fan tutte. In 2002, Mr. Barrett was a member of the chorus in the COC’s critically acclaimed Oedipus Rex with Symphony of Psalms which was staged at the Edinburgh International Festival. Mr. Barrett studied voice at the Glenn Gould Professional School and also received training at Hartwick College and Tanglewood. He was awarded the Galaxie Rising Star Prize at the CBC National Competition for Young Performers for most promising young artist.
Susan Black, Pianist/Coach
2004/05 season: Pianist, Albert Herring; La Bohème
Susan Black is both a pianist and a mezzo-soprano. She has worked with numerous choirs and dance ensembles, including the Crescent School Boys’ Choir, Cardinal Carter Choir, Mosaic Choir, Interplay School of Dance, KIDCO Dance School and Panorama Ballet Camp. She was a vocal accompanist at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Oberlin College, the Royal Conservatory of Music and the University of Victoria. After receiving diplomas in piano performance, Ms Black completed a Bachelors of Music at the University of Victoria. She was an opera school coach and vocal accompanist at University of Toronto where she graduated in 2003 with a Masters of Music in Voice Performance. Ms Black was awarded University of Toronto’s Greta Kraus Scholarship and Scace Fellowship in 2001 and 2002 and was recipient of the B.C. Arts Council Scholarship and Koerner Foundation Scholarship in 1999.
Michèle Bogdanowicz, Mezzo-Soprano
2004/05 season: New Ofglen, Offred (understudy), The Handmaid’s Tale; Florence Pike, Nancy (understudy), Albert Herring; Musetta (understudy), La Bohème; Isaura (understudy), Roggerio (understudy), Tancredi
Mezzo-soprano Michèle Bogdanowicz made her COC debut in the Ensemble Studio production of Dido and Aeneas as the Second Witch last season. Her previous performances include Zerlina in Mozart’s Don Giovanni at the 2002 Orford Festival, and the title role in Maurice Ravel’s L’Enfant et les Sortilèges and Nancy in Benjamin Britten’s Albert Herring with the University of Toronto’s Opera Division in 2001. In concert, Ms Bogdanowicz has appeared with the Toronto Sinfonietta, the University of Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the St. Lawrence String Quartet. She has also appeared at the Aldeburgh Festival, the Brevard Music Centre Festival and the Northern Lights Festival in Mexico. Ms Bogdanowicz holds an Honours BA in Music and received a diploma in Operatic Performance from the University of Toronto in 2002.
Robert Gleadow, Bass
2004/05 season: Raimondo (understudy), Lucia di Lammermoor; Colline, La Bohème; the Old Gypsy, Ferrando (understudy), Il Trovatore; Orbazzano (understudy), Tancredi
Ensemble Studio bass Robert Gleadow made his COC debut last season at the Altamira Summer Opera Concerts and appeared in the Ensemble Studio production of Dido and Aeneas and The Coffee Cantata. He also understudied the role of Pistola in Falstaff and was a member of the COC Chorus. Mr. Gleadow made his stage debut as Sarastro in the 2002/03 production of Die Zauberflöte at the Glenn Gould Professional School. He has appeared in a recital of Schubert’s Die Winterreise and the works of Brahms and Vaughan Williams, as well as in a concert of St. Cecilia’s Mass with the Orpheus Choir of Toronto. Recently, Mr. Gleadow appeared at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence and won the Toti Dal Monte International Competition where he was awarded the role of Basilio in a production of Il barbiere di Siviglia to be performed in Italy and Portugal.
Joni Henson, Soprano
2004/05 Season: Alisa, Lucia di Lammermoor; Lady Billows, Albert Herring; Mimì (understudy), La Bohème; Leonora (understudy), Il Trovatore
Soprano Joni Henson recently performed the role of Anaide in Rota’s Il Cappello di paglia de Firenze at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, California. Her past performances include Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte and the title role in Handel’s Alcina with the University of Toronto’s Opera Division. In 2003, Ms Henson was awarded the Opera Grand Prize at the XVth Concours International de Chant de Verviers in Belgium and received the First Place Opera Award at the Concours International de Chant de Marmande in France. Ms Henson earned a Bachelor’s degree in Vocal Performance from the University of Toronto and recently received her diploma in Operatic Performance from the University of Toronto’s Opera Division.
Peter McGillivray, Baritone
2004/05 Season: Enrico (understudy), Lucia di Lammermoor; The Vicar/Sid, Albert Herring; Schaunard, La Bohème
Baritone Peter McGillivray first appeared with the COC Ensemble Studio last season in Dido and Aeneas as Aeneas, The Coffee Cantata as Schlendrian and Rigoletto as the Usher. His past operatic performances include the title roles in Don Giovanni and Gianni Schicchi as well as the Vicar in Britten’s Albert Herring. This summer, Mr. McGillivray performed in a Tanglewood Music Centre production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the role of Demetrius. He received a diploma in Operatic Performance from the Opera Division at the University of Toronto and participated in master classes at the Britten-Pears School in Aldeburgh, England. Mr. McGillivray recently received the 2004 Jenny Lind Award and in past years has won the CBC National Competition for Young Performers, the Jean Chalmers Award, the 2002 Eckhardt-Gramatté Competition and the NAC’s Peoples Choice Award.
Victor Micallef, Tenor
2004/05 season: Luke, The Handmaid’s Tale; Edgardo (understudy), Arturo (understudy), Lucia di Lammermoor; The Mayor (understudy), Albert Herring (understudy), Albert Herring; Parpignol, Rodolfo (understudy), La Bohème; Ruiz, Il Trovatore
Tenor Victor Micallef has appeared in a number of roles including Arbace in Idomeneo for Opera Anonymous in Toronto and the Prince of Persia in Turandot with Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, where he returned to appear in concert in May 2004. In concert he has performed role exerpts of Tamino in Die Zauberflöte, Lensky in Eugene Onegin and Cavaradossi in Tosca. Mr. Micallef has worked under the baton of Daniel Oren, Zubin Mehta and Claudio Abbado and was a featured soloist in a recording with the Orpheus Choir. Mr. Micallef received a Bachelor of Musical Arts in Voice Performance from University of Western Ontario and trained at the Lieder and Opera Workshop in Casalmaggiore, Italy, where he performed works by Mozart, Verdi and Schubert.
Luc Robert, Tenor
2004/05 season: Arturo, Edgardo (understudy), Lucia di Lammermoor; Albert Herring, Albert Herring; Rodolfo (understudy), La Bohème
During the 2003/04 season Ensemble Studio tenor Luc Robert performed the role of Pang in Turnandot, Borsa in Rigoletto and the Narrator in the Ensemble Studio production of The Coffee Cantata. Mr. Robert made his COC mainstage debut in the 2002/03 production of The Queen of Spades and was the Servant in Un ballo in maschera. Recently, he appeared as Nemorino in L’elisir d’amore with l’Opéra de Québec. Previous roles include Dr. Falke in Die Fledermaus and Frederic in The Pirates of Penzance. Other repertoire includes Offenbach’s Les contes d’Hoffmann, Haydn’s Mass in D Major and Rossini’s Petite messe solennelle. Mr. Robert studied at the Conservatoire de musique de Québec in Montreal with well-known Canadian coaches, Claudette Denys and Louise-Andrée Baril and has trained with Éliane Bouchard and Hélène Morasse.
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