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Avril Sequeira, Director of Public Relations
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Kristin McKinnon, Publicist and Content Producer
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    By Public Relations
    Read the PDF version here.

    Toronto –
    Canadian-American soprano Midori Marsh, of Cleveland, Ohio, took home First Prize and the Audience Choice Award at the Canadian Opera Company’s ninth annual Ensemble Studio Competition on October 30, 2019 at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. The evening marks the grand finale of a national search for Canada’s top young opera singers, all of whom are vying for a coveted spot in the company’s prestigious Ensemble Studio training program. This year’s competitors hailed from all over the country, with seven finalists selected from six Canadian provinces.

    Marsh won the $5,000 award, as well as a performance opportunity at Ontario’s Elora Festival. She also took home the Audience Choice Award, worth $2,000. Bass-baritone Alex Halliday of St. John’s, NL won the Second Prize of $3,500, and soprano Charlotte Siegel of Toronto was awarded the Third Prize of $2,000. The CBC Music Young Artist Development Prize, which offers a professional studio recording session for future broadcast, went to tenor Marcel d’Entremont of Merigomish, NS.

    “Canada’s wealth of operatic talent continues to impress me. Each of this year’s Ensemble Studio Competition finalists should be exceptionally proud of what they’ve accomplished,” says COC General Director Alexander Neef. “The competition may be over, but their journeys are just beginning and I think I speak for everyone in the audience last night when I say I can’t wait to see what comes next for them.”

    Seven finalists were selected from a pool of 109 online applicants and ensuing nationwide live auditions. On October 30, each finalist performed one final aria for the judges and the audience, accompanied by the COC Orchestra led by COC Music Director Johannes Debus. The COC Orchestra also kicked off the evening with a special performance of the overture from Verdi’s Luisa Miller.

    The competition jury comprised COC General Director Alexander Neef; COC Director, Artistic Planning Roberto Mauro; COC Director, Access & Training Nina Draganić; Head of the COC Ensemble Studio Liz Upchurch; and Canadian soprano and Ensemble Studio Head Vocal Consultant Wendy Nielsen, also a graduate of the COC’s program. Jeff McClellan, Manager, Classics & Jazz for Universal Music Canada, was this year’s special guest judge, stepping in for Universal Music Canada President and CEO Jeffrey Remedios (co-chair of the COC’s Centre Stage Gala which followed the competition).

    The winner of the CBC Music Young Artist Development Prize was chosen by CBC Music producer Alison Howard, in consultation with famed Canadian tenor and CBC Radio broadcaster Ben Heppner; Heppner is a graduate of the Ensemble Studio himself and was host of the evening’s competition.

    The Ensemble Studio Competition also serves as the final stage of the audition process for the 2020/2021 Ensemble Studio. COC artistic staff will confirm the 20/21 Ensemble Studio lineup at a later date. Those invited to the Ensemble Studio will join a pioneering program that, since its inception in 1980, has launched the careers of over 230 Canadian singers, opera coaches, stage directors and conductors, including Emily D’Angelo, Gordon Bintner, Ambur Braid, Isabel Bayrakdarian, John Fanning, Joseph Kaiser, David Pomeroy, Krisztina Szabó, Allyson McHardy, and Lauren Segal.

    During the pre-competition cocktail reception, Ensemble Studio Competition guests enjoyed a selection of cheese and charcuterie, as well as savoury handmade donuts with foie gras mousse, provided by Cheese Boutique.

    Following the competition, 400 Centre Stage Gala: Subaqueous guests went on to enjoy an exclusive, on-stage dinner created by Executive Chef David Lee, of Chase Hospitality Group. They were treated to performances by current artists of the COC Ensemble Studio, as well as an immersive lighting experience by Toronto-based artist Radha Chaddah. Taking inspiration from the aquatic theme of this year’s gala, Chaddah created a shimmering, underwater projection that covered the entire stage.

    Proceeds raised from the Ensemble Studio Competition and the ensuing Centre Stage Gala directly support the Ensemble Studio.


    Midori Marsh
    , First Prize ($5,000) and Elora Festival performance opportunity, and Audience Choice Award ($2,000)
    Aria performed: “Quel guardo, il cavaliere” from Don Pasquale by Gaetano Donizetti

    Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Midori Marsh is completing her Master of Music in opera at the University of Toronto, following undergraduate studies at Wilfrid Laurier University. Recent engagements include Sarah Thorpe in No One’s Safe and Johan’s Mother in Silent Light (Banff Centre); Frasquita in Carmen (Waterloo Symphony); Arminda in La finta giardiniera and Rose Maurrant in Street Scene (UofT Opera); Annina in La Traviata (Cambridge Symphony Orchestra); Zerlina in Don Giovanni (Portland Summer Opera Workshop); Laurie Moss in The Tender Land and Antonia in The Tales of Hoffmann (Opera Laurier). This season with UofT Opera, she sings the roles of Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro, Cecilia Corfield in Maid & Master: The Massey Murder, and Mary Crawford in Mansfield Park.

    Alex Halliday
    , Second Prize ($3,500)
    Aria performed: “Sorge infausta una procella” from Orlando by George Frederic Handel

    Alex Halliday is from St. John’s, Newfoundland, where he received his Bachelor of Music in vocal performance from Memorial University of Newfoundland. He is currently studying for his master’s degree in opera performance at the University of Toronto, where his roles include Figaro in The Marriage of Figaro, Sir Thomas Bertram in Mansfield Park, Colonel Denison/Samuel Miller in Maid & Master: The Massey Murder, Nardo in La finta giardiniera, Inspector Brinks in Who Killed Adrianna?, Carl Olsen in Street Scene, Alexander Throttlebottom in Of Thee I Sing, and Masetto in Don Giovanni. Additional roles include Father in Silent Light (Banff Centre), Berto in Un avvertimento ai gelosi, and Sir John Falstaff in The Merry Wives of Windsor (Memorial University).

    Charlotte Siegel, Third Prize ($2,000)
    Aria performed: “Ah! Je ris de me voir si belle” from Faust by Charles Gounod

    Toronto-born soprano Charlotte Siegel is currently pursuing a Graduate Diploma at the Schulich School of Music at McGill University, where she also completed her master’s degree. She received a bachelor’s degree in classical voice performance from the University of Toronto. Her operatic credits include Elle in Knoxville: Summer of 1915, Nancy in Albert Herring and Mère Marie in Dialogues des Carmélites (Opera McGill); and Micaëla in Carmen (Summer Opera Lyric Theatre). She has also performed in the choruses for Carmen, The Elixir of Love and The Student Prince (Chautauqua Voice Program), and Lucia di Lammermoor (Opera McGill). Upcoming roles include Rose Maurrant in Street Scene (Opera McGill) and a performance of Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater.

    Marcel d’Entremont, CBC Music Young Artist Development Prize
    Aria performed: “Kuda, kuda” from Eugene Onegin by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

    Originally from Merigomish, Nova Scotia, Marcel d’Entremont is a graduate of Vancouver Opera’s Yulanda M. Faris Young Artist Program. He received his Master of Music from the University of Toronto and recently completed a graduate diploma in performance at McGill University, where he sang the roles of Tamino in The Magic Flute, L’Aumonier in Dialogues des Carmélites, and Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor. Additional roles include Rodolfo in La Bohème (Against the Grain Theatre and Saskatoon Opera), Zacarias in Silent Light (Banff Centre), Il Podestà in La finta giardiniera (Opera Nova Scotia), and Borsa in Rigoletto (Vancouver Opera). He is a winner of the 2018 Wirth Vocal Prize and Jeunesses Musicales Canada’s 2019 Choquette-Symcox Award.


    2019/2020 SEASON PARTNERS
    BMO Financial Group: Season Sponsor

    Volvo Car Canada: Official Automotive Partner of the Canadian Opera Company and the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts

    Perrier-Jouët: Official Champagne Partner of the Canadian Opera Company and the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts

    RBC Foundation: Platinum Supporter
    BT/A: Creative Partner

    First Prize generously provided by the Temerty Foundation
    Second Prize generously provided by ARIAS: Canadian Opera Student Development Fund
    Third Prize generously provided by Tom C. Logan
    Audience Choice generously provided by Classical 96.3 FM

    Additional support for Second, Third and Audience Choice prizes provided by Jack Whiteside

    The COC Academy is underwritten by The Catherine and Maxwell Meighen Foundation, with additional support by Keith Ambachtsheer & Virginia Atkin.

    Major support for the COC Ensemble Studio program also made possible by Anne & Tony Arrell, Marjorie & Roy Linden, Sheila K. Piercey, RBC Foundation, The Slaight Family Foundation, Government of Canada, with additional support from ARIAS: Canadian Opera Student Development Fund, Margaret Harriett Cameron, Catherine Fauquier, Ethel Harris & the late Milton E. Harris, Patrick and Barbara Keenan Foundation, Joy Levine, Patricia & Frank Mills, The Stratton Trust, Janet Stubbs, Brian Wilks, Nora Wilson.

    Based in Toronto, the Canadian Opera Company is the largest producer of opera in Canada and one of the largest in North America. The COC enjoys a loyal audience including a dedicated base of subscribers. Under its leadership team of General Director Alexander Neef and Music Director Johannes Debus, the company has an international reputation for artistic excellence and creative innovation. Its diverse repertoire includes new commissions and productions, local and international collaborations with leading opera companies and festivals, and attracts the world’s foremost Canadian and international artists. The COC Academy is an incubator for the future of the art form, nurturing Canada’s new wave of opera creators with customized training and support. The COC performs in its own opera house, the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, hailed internationally as one of the finest in the world. For more information, visit

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    For competition inquiries and photography, please contact:
    Avril Sequeira, Director of Public Relations, tel: 416-306-2387, email: [email protected]
    Kristin McKinnon, Publicist and Content Producer, tel: 416-306-2383, email: [email protected]

    Posted In Press Releases

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