The Canadian Opera Company’s 2012/2013 season is underway with a line up that brings international opera stars to Canada and continues to place the COC as a world renowned opera company.
zeeBigBang spoke with Alexander Neef, COC’s General Director, about his role in the company, what their new season has in store for their audience and how they plan to continue audience growth for people of all ages.
Neef’s job includes being responsible for the artistic planning of each season as well as managing the finances and business side of the Canadian Opera Company.
“What I like to do when we plan a new season is give people an idea of the diversity of opera as an art-form. We try to program different operas from different countries, different languages and different styles from different time periods. The message should really be, first of all there is no opera quite like the other, and the second message is there are so many different ways of doing an opera. Each time you come as a member of the public, we want it to be new and exciting,” explained Neef.
Preliminary sketch of Eisenstein by Constance Hoffman, costume designer for the Canadian Opera Company production of Die Fledermaus, 2012.
“What really makes [this season] different for us is that there are a lot of big pieces that take a lot of resources and efforts to put on stage for a company. Some of our productions have huge orchestras with over 100 people in the pit alone. You need to be a company of a certain standing to pull off this kind of season off and we’re really playing in the big league with this season. Not only the level of the pieces that we can program but also the level of the artists that we can attract that sing and conduct and direct,” said Neef.
“I think we have to bring the big talents of the world to Canada and we have to showcase the great Canadian talent to the world. I think that’s pretty much what we’re about as a company,” said Neef.
Die Fledermaus, which has a largely Canadian cast, was a co-investment between the English National Opera and the COC. According to Neef, co-investing with other opera companies from around the world is common practice in the industry.
“The English National Opera is going to present it [Die Fledermaus] in London in a year from now. We’re sharing the investment of sets and costumes. Companies all over the world have started doing that more and more ever since the recession started because it’s a much more economical use of everybody’s resources.”
Neef went on to explain that the COC is constantly finding ways of bringing more people to the opera.
“I think the challenge is to introduce people to opera where they haven’t been exposed to it in the past. They haven’t grown up with it because it’s not part of their cultural heritage. We do a lot of outreach to new people to make them discover opera, regardless of their age. We bring smaller operas with piano and simple staging to schools throughout the GTA. There are a lot of school kids that that is their first exposure to opera ever. For adult audiences, we rely very heavily on our subscribers and board members to introduce their friends and encourage them to very actively bring new people to the opera as their guest and hopefully a few of them stick,” explained Neef.
The COC’s 2012/2013 started on September 29 with the premier of Il Trovatore, which will continue with more performances throughout October. Check out their website for more information on the season and to purchase tickets.
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