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Canadian Opera Company's Iphigenia in Tauris with Susan Graham - Tickets on Sale August 15 2011

Update September 23 - my interview/profile with bass baritone Mark S. Doss on Sway Magazine

From a media release:

world’s leading iphigenia, susan graham, makes coc debut in
robert carsen’s emotionally gripping production of iphigenia in tauris
September 22 to October 15, 2011

– From the same creative team that brought Toronto audiences to their feet night after night this past spring with the Canadian Opera Company’s Dora Award-winning production of Orfeo ed Euridice comes the COC’s 2011/2012 season opening production of Christoph Willibald Gluck’s Iphigenia in Tauris.

Gluck’s masterpiece has its company premiere with director Robert Carsen at the helm of an emotionally gripping production that features Susan Graham, one of the opera world’s foremost opera stars, making her eagerly anticipated COC debut in the title role.  Leading the COC Orchestra and Chorus is Spanish conductor Pablo Heras-Casado, returning to the company after his thrilling debut in last season’s Nixon in China.

“This is why we go to the opera,” said the Globe and Mail of the COC’s Orfeo ed Euridice last May, and director Robert Carsen is poised to deliver again this fall with a production of Iphigenia in Tauris that has already played to great acclaim in Chicago, San Francisco, London and Madrid.

• Sung in French with English SURTITLES™, Iphigenia in Tauris runs for eight performances at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts on Sept. 22, 25, 28 and Oct. 1, 4, 7, 12, 15, 2011.

Renowned mezzo-soprano Susan Graham is a leader in the international revival of Gluck’s operas.  Her COC debut follows recent performances as Iphigenia for the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, Royal Opera House Covent Garden and Teatro Real de Madrid, for which her “molten tone and vivid acting” (Financial Times) as well as “nobility and vibrant vocal beauty” (Chicago Tribune), has been praised in performances described as “poignant and majestic” (Opera News) and “riveting” (New York Times).

Also making her COC debut in the title role is rising Canadian soprano Katherine Whyte, “a compelling vocal and dramatic presence” (Opera Canada) who has made impressive debuts with English National Opera, Atlanta Opera and l’Opéra national de Bordeaux in recent years. She sings Iphigenia on Oct. 15, 2011.

Graham and Whyte are joined by a dream cast.  Canadian lyric baritone Russell Braun is Iphigenia’s brother Orestes. In addition to being a favourite and frequent artist at the COC, Braun is a regular presence on the world’s finest stages.

Making his long-awaited return to the COC in the role of Orestes’ best friend, Pylades, is Met regular and COC Ensemble Studio graduate tenor Joseph Kaiser.  Internationally acclaimed as one of the most gifted artists of his generation, Kaiser has seen success in opera, oratorio and concert throughout North America and Europe, as well as in film, having starred as Tamino in the Kenneth Branagh film adaptation of The Magic Flute in 2007.

Grammy Award-winning bass-baritone Mark S. Doss (1999’s Il Trovatore) is Thoas, the Scythian king who orders Orestes’ death, and COC Ensemble graduate mezzo-soprano Lauren Segal (2011’s The Magic Flute, Nixon in China and Ariadne auf Naxos) is the goddess Diana.

Rounding out the cast is a crop of Canada’s rising opera stars from the COC Ensemble Studio: returning sopranos Ambur Braid as a Greek Woman and Jacqueline Woodley as the First Priestess; and new members soprano Mireille Asselin as the Second Priestess and bass-baritone Philippe Sly as a Scythian Man, in their COC debuts.  COC favourite, bass Robert Pomakov, is the Old Servant.

Spanish conductor Pablo Heras-Casado returns to lead the COC Orchestra and Chorus on the heels of a Dora Mavor Moore Award nomination for “Outstanding Musical Direction” of the COC’s Nixon in China.  Heras-Casado has emerged in recent years as one of the brightest stars on the international conducting scene with a remarkable repertoire that spans classical to cutting-edge contemporary scores, with engagements with major ensembles from all over the world.

In returning to direct Iphigenia in Tauris, Robert Carsen brings with him other members of the Orfeo ed Euridice creative team: set and costume designer Tobias Hoheisel and co-lighting designer Peter Van Praet.  Choreography for the 20 dancers in Iphigenia in Tauris is by Philippe Giraudeau, who makes his COC debut.

Iphigenia in Tauris was Gluck’s greatest triumph, telling of how the heroine Iphigenia is rescued from imminent death only to confront the tragic twist of fate of being required to kill her long-lost brother.  Composed in 1779, Gluck created a score of refined, classical beauty that lays bare the emotional intensity of this Greek tragedy.  Carsen’s directorial vision for the COC’s Iphigenia in Tauris takes the ancient Greek myth into a timeless present, with a staging that strips away unnecessary distraction and highlights the opera’s searing emotions and inherent music drama.

This production of Iphigenia in Tauris is a co-production of Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera and Royal Opera House Covent Garden.

Images from the 2006 Lyric Opera of Chicago production:
• 1st & 4th: Susan Graham as Iphigenia Photo: Dan Rest
• 2nd: company. Photo: Robert Kusel

• 3rd: Susan Graham as Iphigenia by Robert Kusel

• Single tickets for Iphigenia in Tauris are $12 – $318 (includes applicable taxes) and go on sale Aug. 15, 2011.
Tickets are available online at,
• by calling 416-363-8231,
• or in person at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts Box Office, located at 145 Queen St. W., Monday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Ask about Standing Room, Young People, Opera for a New Age, Student Group and Rush Seat discounts


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