The next generation of Canada’s talented opera singers were celebrated at the Canadian Opera Company’s inaugural “Centre Stage” gala on November 26, 2013. After 155 preliminary auditions across Canada, nine short-listed singers competed to win cash prizes and opera glory at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.

Accompanied by the COC orchestra and conducted by Music Director Johannes Debus, each singer gave their best performance in two arias each.

Grammy-nominated and multi-Juno award winning Rufus Wainwright was a charismatic emcee.

“I applaud all the young artists we heard in the competition.”, said COC General Director Alexander Neef. “They performed with great passion and commitment, and the quality of the emerging talent we heard made us all very enthusiastic about the future of opera in Canada.”

At the end of it, the audience got to vote from their seats for the audience’s choice winner while a panel of judges deliberated on the Top Prize winner.

While the judges were making their decision, Rufus Wainwright surprised everyone with delightfully entertaining musical performances of his own accompanied by the COC orchestra.

In the end it was soprano singer, Karine Boucher, from Quebec City who won both the Audience Choice Award and the Top Prize Award. Congrats, Karine!

Proceeds from the evening were raised in support of the COC and will go towards the company’s Ensemble Studio. The COC artistic staff will confirm the lineup of the 2014/15 Ensemble Studio over the next few weeks.

Here are some photos I took during the cocktail reception of the Centre Stage gala.

Check out the video of the Centre Stage gala including Karine Boucher’s winning performance:

Photos from the competition by Michael Cooper

And in related news, the Canadian Opera Company is commissioning a new opera to be composed by Rufus Wainwright and playwright Daniel MacIvor.

“We began the process of creating a new opera for the Canadian Opera Company several years ago, and I’m very proud to say that we are now at the stage where we can make the news public,” says COC General Director Alexander Neef. “Bringing a world premiere to the COC’s mainstage is a significant undertaking for the company and we’re proud to say that all the elements are now in place to make a strong project. Rufus and I have been talking about what Hadrian would look like for at least three years now and I’m very excited about the musical and dramatic direction that this piece will take.”

Hadrian will be Wainwright’s second opera. “I’m thrilled to be setting out on this epic journey with the COC and look forward to once again diving into the deep end, a requirement on all fronts in the world of opera,” Wainwright says.

Hadrian is scheduled for World Premiere in COC’s 2018/2019 Season.

For more info visit the Canadian Opera Company website here

Photos from the Chivas 1801 soiree in Yorkville
The Limited Edition Dom Pérignon 2004 vintage by Jeff Koons

Nick Lee

Editor and Photos at