Skip to content

Returning as stars: COC’s ‘Salome’ and ‘Marriage of Figaro’

So far as full circle moments go, there are few which may eclipse the one Ambur Braid is having.

In 2013, she sat in a field on the 4 Seasons Heart for the Performing Arts and watched Atom Egoyan’s blistering manufacturing of “Salome.” Because the Richard Strauss opera drew to an in depth, a pal turned to the Canadian soprano, then in her ultimate month of the Canadian Opera Firm’s Ensemble Studio, and stated that it must be Braided up on the stage.

The pal’s pithy comment has caught with Braid. In hindsight, it is considerably prophetic.

Cue a decade later. Egoyan’s “Salome” is again on the COC’s mainstage for the primary time since that 2013 manufacturing. And it is Braid who will step into the function of the titular princess.

“In loads of methods, it feels full circle,” Braid stated, chatting with the Star from her house within the Blue Mountains earlier than the beginning of rehearsals. “Seeing this manufacturing was what launched me into the world of opera… So I am very grateful for this chance to return again to be a headliner in my house home in a task that I really like.”

Braid is amongst dozens of Ensemble Studio artists who’ve gone on to chart spectacular worldwide careers after graduating from the COC’s growth program. Almost 230 rising opera performers and pianists have been part of the residency since its inception in 1980. Amongst its most notable alumni: Ben Heppner, Krisztina Szabó and Wallis Giunta.

The initiative is a part of the broader COC Academy, a set of profession growth packages that additionally consists of an orchestra academy, and residencies for up-and-coming composers and administrators. However of the six academy packages, the Ensemble Studio has doubtless left the best mark in growing Canadian opera expertise.

This season alone, former Ensemble Studio artists featured within the COC lineup embrace mezzo-soprano Rihab Chaieb, who starred in “Carmen” final fall, and bass-baritone Gordon Bintner, who will play the Depend within the revival of “The Marriage of Figaro ” opening Friday.

Many who enter this system be a part of as starry-eyed artists, usually simply having accomplished an undergraduate diploma. All through the residency, which generally spans two seasons, Ensemble Studio members obtain intensive coaching whereas additionally understudying senior artists in mainstage productions.

Ensemble Studio members usually fly underneath the radar of the final opera-going public—their names tucked within the again pages of this system—solely to return years later headlining the operas during which they had been as soon as understudies.

That is the case for Bintner, who understudied the function of the Depend in Mozart’s opera buffa again when he was an Ensemble Studio member in 2016. Considered one of Bintner’s favourite recollections from this system was being requested to carry out that function throughout the gown rehearsal, when the first forged member was unable to carry out.

“It was a matter of hours earlier than the gown rehearsal and my system type of went into survival mode,” he stated. “It was exhilarating.”

In different productions throughout these adolescence, Bintner had the prospect to grasp acclaimed artists like baritone Sir Thomas Allen and Quinn Kelsey.

“To be in the identical room as them and to see how they strategy rehearsing and performing, it simply exhibits you what is attainable and the way it’s purported to be executed,” Bintner stated.

The native of Regina, Sask., joined the Ensemble Studio quickly after graduating from McGill College’s Schulich Faculty of Music. In 2012, he received the COC’s Ensemble Studio Competitors after performing a program that included an aria from none apart from “The Marriage of Figaro.”

Braid, in the meantime, virtually did not audition for this system. On the time, she had completed her grasp’s diploma, and was working in public relations and occasion planning. “I did not wish to audition. My husband pressured me to,” Braid stated.

She made it previous the primary spherical of auditions and was invited for a callback, however she could not make it on account of a scheduling battle. And but, the COC nonetheless chosen her to hitch this system.

“Generally you play onerous to get and it really works,” Braid stated with amusing.

For Bintner, these years of rigorous coaching in this system helped form the skilled he’s in the present day.

“We had been uncovered to so many unimaginable coaches and the type of coaching that gave us all of the instruments that we wanted to essentially convey our craft to an internationally acceptable stage,” stated Bintner. “It was a ravishing time in my growth and my life.”

The COC’s “The Marriage of Figaro” and “Salome” run from Jan. 27 to Feb. 18, and Feb. 3 to 24, respectively, on the 4 Seasons Heart for the Performing Arts. Go to or name 416-363-8231 for tickets.


Conversations are opinions of our readers and are topic to the Code of Conduct. The Star doesn’t endorse these opinions.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *