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    By Public Relations

    Read the PDF version here.

    Shortened, English-language adaptation to feature local children’s choirs

    Toronto – Kids are in for a sweet treat this winter when the Canadian Opera Company’s annual Opera for Young Audiences production moves to the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts for two special performances on February 13 and 15, 2020. The Engelbert Humperdinck classic, Hansel & Gretel, has been adapted with young audiences in mind, featuring a shortened 90-minute runtime and English performance. Rising young stars of the COC Ensemble Studio sing the main roles, accompanied by the acclaimed COC Orchestra led by conductor Derek Bate.

    “Opera for Young Audiences is one of the most important ways we introduce young people to the art form and help them become lifelong opera fans. And this year, we’re able to open our doors to more young audience members than ever before,” says COC General Director Alexander Neef. “Hansel & Gretel is an all-time family favourite with universal themes, which makes it perfect for our youth-oriented programming.”

    In this production of Hansel & Gretel, from director Joel Ivany, the classic fairytale gets a modern twist when two curious siblings set off to explore their urban surroundings – and encounter some quirky neighbours along the way. With no limits to their imaginations, the ordinary becomes extraordinary in this timeless story of family, teamwork, and everyday magic. Throughout the familiar story, the production weaves contemporary issues, such as climate change, food sustainability, and personal wellness, giving it particular resonance for today’s youth. On the day of the performance, young audience members can also head to the opera house early to participate in free, hands-on activities that add meaning and context for the Hansel & Gretel show they’re about to watch.

    Another special feature of this year’s Opera for Young Audiences: Hansel & Gretel performances is the inclusion of a mass children’s chorus, made up of five different community choirs from across the GTA: the Canadian Children’s Opera Company, Common Thread Kids!, Nai Children’s Choir, Reaching out Through Music/St. James Town Children’s Choir, and YIP’s Children’s Choir (Canada). Many of these young choristers will be performing in their first opera, or professional production of any kind, and will be singing the children’s chorus part in Hansel & Gretel.

    Opera for Young Audiences: Hansel & Gretel is ideal for young people in grades 4 to 12. It is sung in English, with English SurtitlesTM. Hansel & Gretel is presented in partnership with the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity.

    Cast and Creative Team

    Peter, father: Joel Allison

    Conductor: Derek Bate

    Gertrude, mother: Simona Genga

    Director: Joel Ivany

    Hansel: Jamie Groote

    Assistant Director: Julie McIsaac

    Gretel: Anna-Sophie Neher

    Set & Projection Designer: S. Katy Tucker

    The Witch: Matthew Cairns

    Costume Designer: Ming Wong

    The Dew Fairy/Sandman: Lauren Margison

    Lighting Designer: JAX Messenger


    Dramaturg: Katherine Syer

    Ticket Information
    Tickets for the general public go on sale November 21, 2019. Regular price tickets range from $30–100, children ages 15 and under are eligible for half-price tickets ranging from $15–50. To book tickets, visit, call COC Ticket Services at 416-363-8231, or visit the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts Box Office (145 Queen St. W.).

    Tickets for school groups are $15 per student, which includes one free teacher/chaperone ticket for every 10 student tickets purchased. They can be purchased by contacting [email protected] or calling 416-363-8231.

    About the COC Ensemble Studio
    The COC Ensemble Studio is Canada’s premier training program for young opera professionals. Since the inception of the program in 1980, over 230 young professional Canadian singers, opera coaches, stage directors and conductors have acquired their first major professional operatic experience through the Ensemble Studio. Former members include Ben Heppner, Isabel Bayrakdarian, John Fanning, Wendy Nielsen, Joseph Kaiser, Allyson McHardy, David Pomeroy, Lauren Segal and Krisztina Szabó.

    Members of the Ensemble Studio are the COC’s resident artists and important ambassadors for the company. They receive a blend of advanced study and practical experience through an individually tailored, multi-year program, involving understudying and performing mainstage roles, intensive vocal coaching, language and acting studies, and career skills development, as well as participation in masterclasses with internationally renowned opera professionals.

    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

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

    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, Roger D. Moore, The Stratton Trust, Janet Stubbs, Brian Wilks, Nora Wilson.

    About the Canadian Opera Company
    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 support-base and one of the highest attendance and subscription rates in North America. Under its leadership team of General Director Alexander Neef and Music Director Johannes Debus, the COC is increasingly capturing the opera world’s attention. The COC maintains its international reputation for artistic excellence and creative innovation by creating new productions within its diverse repertoire, collaborating with leading opera companies and festivals, and attracting the world’s foremost Canadian and international artists. 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. Designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects, the Four Seasons Centre opened in 2006. For more information on the Canadian Opera Company, visit

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

    Posted In Press Releases


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