The Canadian Opera Company (COC) is the largest of its kind in Canada. Based in Toronto, it also has the distinction of being one of the grandest in North America – the third largest producer of opera, to be exact. The company has come a long way since its humble beginnings in 1950. Founders Arnold Walter, Nicholas Goldschmidt, and Herman Geiger-Torel came together in 1946 and established the company under the Royal Conservatory Opera School. After many successful productions and much public support, the school directors formed the Royal Conservatory Opera Company and in 1950 held the first Opera Festival. The company then became the Canadian Opera Association before adopting its current moniker, the Canadian Opera Company.
Until recently, the COC had been putting on performances at various theatres and venues, but now holds residence at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, and has since 2006. The venue was built specifically for opera and ballet performances, and caters to the COC appropriately. After numerous successors of the title of general director, Alexander Neef presently holds the reigns.
The COC is a not-for-profit organization and focuses on bringing the art and appreciation of opera to new audiences. With an emphasis on serving the youth, the Canadian Opera Company holds annual school tours ensuring that young Ontarians do not fail to see the beauty of opera. In 45-minute sessions, opera is brought up in a new light to over 200,000 students annually across Ontario.
Not only is the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra the oldest opera orchestra in Canada – formed in 1977 – it is also one of the most notable and reputable, having received worldwide acclaim. It is composed of more than 50 instrumentalists. The COC Chorus is made of about 40 professional singers, some of whom have worked with the company for over 20 years.
Every year, the COC puts on what’s called Operanation. This is a gala event the Canadian Opera Company organizes, and it is by far one of its biggest and most prestigious events of the year. This year is the 8th annual celebration, and the gala, titled A Muse Ball, to be held Friday, October 21st is featuring the world-renowned singer/songwriter Rufus Wainwright and other amazing performances. It will be a fantastic night celebrating artistic inspiration and the mix-and-mingle of art and life.