COC launches 2011-12 season with Gluck masterpiece

Susan Graham (centre) as Iphigenia in the Lyric Opera of Chicago production, 2006. Photo: Robert Kusel

From the same creative team that brought Toronto audiences the 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.

Iphigenia marks its company premiere with director Robert Carsen at the helm and featuring Susan Graham, who makes her COC debut in the title role.  Leading the COC Orchestra and Chorus is Spanish conductor Pablo Heras-Casado,who conducted 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, May 2011.

A scene from the Lyric Opera of Chicago production, 2006. Photo: Robert Kusel

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  distraction and highlights the opera’s emotions and music drama.

Renowned mezzo-soprano Susan Graham is a leader in the international revival of Gluck’s operas.  Recent performances as Iphigenia include 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).  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, will also debut in the title role,  sings Iphigenia on October15.

Graham and Whyte are joined by Canadian lyric baritone Russell Braun is Iphigenia’s brother Orestes. Braun is a regular presence at the Metropolitan Opera, l’Opéra national de Paris, Vienna State Opera, Chicago Lyric Opera, LA Opera, La Scala and the Salzburg and Glyndebourne festivals.  Returning  to the COC in the role of Orestes’ best friend, Pylades, is Met regular and COC Ensemble Studio graduate tenor Joseph Kaiser, who has performed in opera, oratorio and concerts 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.

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.

A co-production of Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera and Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Carsen’s Iphigenia in Tauris that has already played to 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.

Individual tickets go on sale tomorrow. For more information, see the COC website at

1 Comment

Filed under North American Opera, Opera Marketing

One response to “COC launches 2011-12 season with Gluck masterpiece

  1. Sounds like a great lineup! I thought Graham was excellent (and unusually intense) in the role at the Met last season. I’ve been really impressed with Braun both times I’ve heard him live, as well.