Sunday, January 29, 2012

Actors, Lawyers and Business People... Oh My! Introducing our Board of Directors!

Behind every non-profit organization is a Board of Directors. The role of the Board is to mentor, guide and ensure that decisions made, fully support the mandate of organization. As such, it is with excitement that we announce Vancouver Concert Opera Society's Founding Board Members! 
  • Andy Maton, Chair
  • Jack J Huberman QC, Vice-Chair
  • Paul D. Carter, Secretary/Treasurer
  • Susan Freedman, Director-At-Large
  • Colleen Tracy Torrison, Director-At-Large
  • Andrew Tilston, Director-At-Large
To read more about these amazing people, visit our website!

We are thrilled to have such a diverse group of individuals at the helm of this organization and are looking forward to a bright and prosperous future under their guidance and leadership!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

VanCOCO Live at the 2012 Ovation Awards!

Yes, you read that correctly! Contralto Natalie Burdeny and Pianist Wenwen Du will be performing an excerpt from our 2011 Hit Show "Trouble In Tahiti" at the 8TH ANNUAL OVATION AWARDS this Sunday January 29th at 7PM at the Vancouver Academy of Music. And why have we been asked to perform? Well it's because we have been nominated for an Award in the category of for Outstanding Ensemble Production!

Contralto, Natalie Burdeny
As the Ovation Awards are a public award you can vote for us! Today is the last day though! Visit the Applause Musicals website and click on the link to take you to the voting ballot! One entry per person! You have until midnight!

Why should you vote for us? Well, this is quite an honour! The Ovation Awards are typically reserved for Musical Theatre productions and the fact that our little "jazz-influence" opera production has made the list is quite impressive. Regardless of the outcome, we are extremely pleased to have hit the radar of this organization and honoured (we said that once already - we know!) to be recognized for our efforts.
Pianist, Wenwen Du

Interested in attending the awards ceremony? You can still get tickets! The ticket price includes an amazing showcase of nominated artists. Doors open at 6:30 followed at 7PM by a revue including performances from various productions and special guest presenters. Cash bar, before and after show. Full details here!

See you there!

Monday, January 23, 2012

2 for 2! Our second review in Opera Canada!

Trouble In Tahiti
Opera Canada Review
Winter 2011
Honestly we could not have asked for a better year! Our inaugural performance of Bizet's Carmen was a sell-out and garnered a gushing review from our industry magazine Opera Canada!

Hot off the press is Opera Canada's Winter 2011 edition and we were elated to see that our second show of 2011, Bernstein's Trouble In Tahiti, received equal praise!

Honourable mention goes out to the entire cast and production team! This is a great start to 2012!

To read the entire review simply click here!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Cast Corner - Frédérik Robert

A TENOR WHO REQUIRES NO INTRODUCTION! For those of you who saw VanCOCO's debut performance of Carmen last January will remember the magic that occurred. Faced with ailing Don Jose, Frédérik stepped in with less than 48 hours notice and sang an utterly moving (and critically acclaimed) performance of Carmen. We at VanCOCO are so glad that he was able to step in on such short notice. Frédérik is thumbs up in our book and he should be in yours as well. We are so excited to have him back to join us for our upcoming February performances of Verdi's Rigoletto where he will be featured as Il Duca (Duke of Mantua). Imagine what he can do when he has had time to prepare! Quite simply, Frédérik is a force to be reckoned with!

Here's what he had to say when we asked him a few inside question.

(Q) We all have a guilty pleasure when it comes to our listening tastes, what do you enjoy listening to that we might find as a surprise?

(A) Guilty? Never! I love musicals and pop ballads from the 80's and 90's. I love my old school Mariah.  The cheesier the better.  As for musicals, the more obscure the better.  ie: if you've ever heard the music from Starlight Express, I'd be super impressed!

(Q) How did you get started with opera?

(A) I started singing opera by accident. In 1999, while I was in full training as a pop and musical theater singer, my voice teacher in Edmonton got notice of a new opera program starting in Edmonton called Opera Nuova. He wanted me to audition as he and I had dabbled in classical music previously. We chose two arias (Pourquoi me reveiller and Che gelida manina) and I went home and started to work on it. Basically I copied Pavarotti's voice, as best I could, and came back to my lesson with my best imitation. My teacher couldn't believe how natural it sounded and how the music suited me. Several months later I did my audition and got the lead in both operas that summer.

(Q)  What would someone who has never experienced opera before enjoy about Rigoletto?

(A) There are very few operas in existence today with so many incredible melodies as you'll find in Rigoletto. If a person is new to opera, they are sure to walk away with the feeling that Rigoletto was one of the BEST shows they've ever heard and seen. They'll be sure to leave the hall whistling one of the tunes from the opera.

Stay tuned for more from "Cast Corner" and don't forget to get your tickets for Rigoletto! February 15 and 17 in Vancouver and February 18 in White Rock where we will be making our debut! Advance tickets are ON SALE NOW and you benefit from savings by getting your tickets early! 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Behind the Baton - Maestro Gordon Gerrard

Making his debut with VanCOCO is Maestro Gordon Gerrard. Maestro Gerrard is no stranger to Vancouver having worked as principal repetiteur with Vancouver Opera a number of years ago. We are fortunate and excited to be able to have him return to Vancouver to take the helm for our upcoming performances of Rigoletto. Maestro Gerrard graciously took some time out of his busy schedule to share with us a glimpse at the man behind the baton.

(Q) What is the most exciting thing about Rigoletto for you?

(A)  I had listened to recordings of Rigoletto for years, and I had even worked on the famous bits (Gilda’s big aria and the famous quartet), but when I moved to New York to go to grad school, Rigoletto was the first opera that I saw at the Met. It’s an experience I will never forget. This music is amazing! Rigoletto is about midway through Verdi’s operas, and by this point he had perfected something magical. The way that he wrote for the voices is unlike anything else in the operatic repertoire. The music is so completely conceived for the human voice. He knew more than anyone before him exactly how the human voice works, and how it can connect with the emotional guts of any listener.

(Q)  How did you get started with opera?

(A) I came to opera a little later than some. I grew up in a small town in Manitoba, and opera was not high on the list of activities for a Saturday night. I saw my first opera when I was an undergrad at the University of Manitoba (Hänsel und Gretel). I had at this point started to play for a lot of singers at school, even though my degree was in solo piano. I went to a summer art song festival where I met my now friend and mentor, Michael McMahon, who encouraged me to apply for the brand new opera training program, Opera Nuova in Edmonton. I thought I was unqualified to go, and I said to him, “I don’t know anything about opera!” He replied, “Well, it’s about time you learned.” I’m happy to say that I’m still learning.

(Q) What might you say to someone who has never been to an opera before to get them excited about this particular show?

(A) One of the criticisms that’s often leveled against opera is that the people and situations are too unbelievable for us to engage. Rigoletto is not to be included in this category. The first time (and every time) I see this opera, I am bowled over by the inescapable plight of poor Rigoletto himself. There’s a tragic inevitability about the story; we can see the outcome approaching a mile away, and Rigoletto cannot. As the opera charges on, you can’t help but become involved. You want to tell Rigoletto to change course, but of course you are stuck in your seat, helpless.

(Q) And one last question, everbody has a guilty pleasure when it comes to music, what yours?

(A) Eek. Well I’m kind of a music nerd. My iTunes is nearly all classical. I do own a couple of Rufus Wainwright albums. I recently discovered Madeleine Peyroux, Gavin Creel and Zee Avi. Sadly, that’s about it.

Well admittedly, we were sort of hoping to hear that the Maestro likes to listen to a little Jay-Z or Snoop Doggy Dogg when not waving his arms around passionately, but we know what it's like to have an iTunes account and be frustrated at the lack of classical categories like Romantic, 20th Century, and Baroque! To read more about Maestro Gerrard, click here go directly to his bio!

Stay tuned for our next blog update featuring the multi-talented Tenor, Frédérik Robert who will be joining us again to sing Il Duca after an impressive and memorable jump in as Don Jose in our January 2011 production of Carmen!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Cast Corner - Keith O'Brien

Back again with our "Cast Corner" series, we are excited to introduce you to the talented artists that will be hitting the stage in February for our production of Verdi's Rigoletto.

What do you get when you cross a surfer, an oarsman, an architect, and an opera singer?  You get Toronto based Baritone Keith O'Brien! We have known Keith for a long time and are extremely excited to have him joining us in the Title Role of Rigoletto.

As always, we like to give our audience a view of the performer that you might not see from the stage. Here are a few questions to wet your appetite for our show.

(Q) How did you get your start in opera?

(A) I started out as a trumpet player in high school, and went on to McGill in the jazz programme. But I had always been involved with theatre in high school, and so it seemed like opera was a perfect way to combine music and theatre. I had done some singing in high school, so I made the switch to opera in my second year of university. I've done plenty of music theatre along the way, but opera is far more edifying musically as well more intense dramatically. 
(Q) What is the most exciting aspect of Rigoletto for you?

(A) Baritones rarely get to play the lead role, so that alone makes this production very interesting for me. In addition, this is a Verdi role, which puts Rigoletto in a special category. Verdi understood and wrote so well for a particular subset of the baritone fach. Since his writing essentially created the category, it became known as the Verdi Baritone. The vocal demands of Verdi's writing for his baritones are far greater than any composer previous to him. The choice to cast the baritone as the lead means that the dramatic demands are greater than usual, but Verdi was always good at creating multifaceted characters for the baritone in all of his operas. Even when he casts the baritone as the villain, which is most of the time, there is a multidimensionality there that goes beyond the simple archetype.

(Q) When you are not immersed in opera what is your favorite pastime.

(A)  I work as an Architect in Toronto when I'm not singing.  During my undergrad at McGill and my Masters at University of Toronto I was an oarsman on the varsity rowing team and I enjoyed many chances to compete internationally all over North America, Europe and Asia. Nowadays, my new athletic passion is surfing. Living in the centre of Canada means that I only get a chance to surf when I'm on vacation, so lately I can't imagine taking a vacation anywhere that doesn't offer excellent surfing.

Don't miss this rare opportunity to hear Keith as he debuts the role of Rigoletto with VanCOCO and stay tuned for more from Keith and the rest of our cast!

Take advantage of advance ticket pricing and click here to buy your tickets today!