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Canadian Opera Company unveils 2006-07 season

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TORONTO (CP) - Under the motto Home at Last, the Canadian Opera Company announced the inaugural season Tuesday for its new venue, the first in the country built specifically for opera.

The company opens the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts next September with Wagner's Ring cycle.

Then in October, the season officially begins with Mozart's Cosi fan tutte, followed by Gounod's Faust, Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, Verdi's Luisa Miller, Richard Strauss's Elektra and finally Verdi's La Traviata.

"This is the best of all times - the house is on time, we will open in September with the Ring and we are on budget," Rob Collins, president of the board of the COC, said of the Four Seasons Centre, which will also be the new performance venue for the National Ballet of Canada.

"We've for long had the artistic resources, and now it looks as if we've got the money," said general director Richard Bradshaw, who added that fundraising has been good.

He said, though, that the number of performances of each opera, and the mounting of other elaborate productions like the Ring, will depend on how much funding he gets from government.

Bradshaw also had enormous praise for the new opera house.

"We've kept the seat count to something which makes it acoustically desirable and, we hope, acoustically perfect."

He said, too, the intimate horseshoe design of the theatre means no view-restricted seats.

"I have to pinch myself on many fronts, but that is one of the more satisfying."

The COC's former residence, the Hummingbird Centre, was not designed exclusively for an opera company, which means thousands of bad seats, he said.

"It's easier to sell someone a seat when they know all the seats are good."

Bradshaw noted, too, that more than 80 per cent of the tickets for the Ring have been sold, and more than 30 per cent of those are from outside Canada, including Japan, New Zealand, Australia and, of course, the U.S.

Bradshaw confirmed there would be $20 tickets available for each performance for younger people and student groups.

"So no one can say that they can't go if they're willing to queue up."

The conductor also expressed a desire for more media coverage of arts events.

"Not more criticism, but more awareness," he said. "Opera and symphony and ballet and theatre and dance, everything, are not seen as something for a limited few but they're seen as something which is a part of every real civilization."

He said that doesn't mean he's going to "dumb down and popularize offerings in any Jerry Springer the Opera fashion," a reference to the pop opera based on Springer's TV show phenomenon.


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© The Canadian Press, 2005

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