Pre-performance Opera Chats

Pre-performance Opera Chats

*Please check back in August for our fall pre-performance chat schedule*

Free, insightful and informative chats are presented by COC Education staff and featured guest speakers, 45 minutes before every main stage COC performance.

Time/Duration: 20-minute chats, 45 minutes prior to every opera performance
Tickets: No ticket necessary, free when you attend an opera. Arrive early as seating is limited. 


Stephan Bonfield is Lecturer in music, science and general studies at Ambrose University where he teaches the music history core program and advanced music theory. He is also research associate in an auditory neuroscience lab at the University of Calgary. Stephan runs his own music history and theory studio and is a senior examiner in both disciplines at the Royal Conservatory of Music. He is the dance critic for the Calgary Herald; reviews the performing arts at the Banff Centre plus new music concerts in Calgary. He now covers the National Ballet of Canada for Musical Toronto and lectures on opera for the Canadian Opera Company, Edmonton Opera and Against the Grain Theatre. 


As Director of Education for Seattle Opera, Sue Elliott redesigned the company's public programs, commissioned Jack Perla’s An American Dream, and produced their most successful RingFest ever. A popular lecturer at home and abroad, she also hosted Saturday Night Opera on King-FM. At Houston Grand Opera, she created the award-winning Song of Houston initiative, including 19 new works that have served more than 500,000 people worldwide. Sue started in opera as a stage manager at the COC and worked in that capacity across the U.S. An accomplished clarinetist and pianist, she holds music performance degrees from the University of Southern California, University of Toronto, and McGill. Currently, Sue directs The Royal Conservatory’s online professional development, certificate, and accreditation programs for private music teachers around the world.

Wayne Gooding is a Toronto-based writer and former editor of the quarterly magazine, Opera Canada. In his earlier incarnation as a business journalist, he wrote for such publications as The Financial Post, Report on Business, Policy Options and served as editor of Canadian Business, Marketing Magazine and Financial Post Magazine. Over the past decade, he has increasingly focused on a lifelong interest in opera and music theatre. Besides Opera Canada, his byline has appeared in Playbill, Opera Now and The Wagner Journal, among other publications, and he has given lectures and presentations across Canada. For the COC, he also gives the Opera Talks series at the North York Central Library.


Brian McMillan is the Director of the Music Library at Western University in London, Ontario. In addition to a Masters of Information Studies from the University of Toronto, he holds a bachelors and masters in voice performance from McGill University. He has sung professionally with several ensembles across Canada including the Tafelmusik Chamber Choir, Aradia Ensemble, Quebec's Les Violons du roy, and the chorus of the Canadian Opera Company.


Matthew Timmermans is a graduate student in musicology at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec. He has published on a variety of topics including philosophy of music, performance practice, age studies, and diva worship. He has also received a number of awards and scholarships, including the Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship (2016) from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) for his masters thesis. His forthcoming thesis, “The Diva Dilemma: A Comparative Analysis of Aging on the Operatic Stage,” examines how we interpret  an opera singer’s age on the stage. He has had the opportunity to lecture about opera at Opera Lyra, Pellegrini Opera, and McGill University, and has been invited to present his research at several conferences around the world.

Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, 2010, photo: COC Staff

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