The Toronto Opera Scene:
A User-Friendly Guide

In Toronto opera lovers are spoiled for choice. Find out who produces what where. Canadian Opera Company, Opera Atelier and more. Tickets from $20.

With this much activity, if you’re here during the fall or winter season, chances are good that you’ll find some opera to see.

Photo Credit: Canadian Opera Company. Brett Polegato as Sharpless, Yannick Muriel-Noah as Cio-Cio-San and Anita Krause as Suzuki in the Canadian Opera Company’s production of Madama Butterfly, 2009. Conductor Carlo Montanaro, director Brian Macdonald, set and costume designer Susan Benson and lighting designer Michael Whitfield. Photo: Michael Cooper



Here’s a quick overview of the different companies.

Canadian Opera Company
The Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, 145 Queen St. West
http://www.coc.ca
See the top Canadian and international stars of opera. Canada’s premier opera company performs in the first Canadian building designed specifically for opera and ballet. Mounts about eight productions a year and the occasional special concert by someone like Ben Heppner. The least expensive seats are over $60. If you’re looking for the those, you need to buy them as soon as they go on sale, though, because they sell out quickly (I’ve learned this the hard way). If you’re very, very lucky, you might score some “rush tickets” for $20 on the day of a performance (if someone returns their tickets at last minute). Note: they also have free lunch-hour concerts in their ampitheatre several times a month. Go early!

Opera Atelier
Elgin Theatre, 189 Yonge St.
http://www.operaatelier.com
What did opera sound and look like two centuries ago? Here’s your chance to find out. A truly unique opera experience in a beautiful vintage theatre. They only mount about two productions a year but they’re worth the wait. Prices start around $35.

Opera by Request
North Toronto Institute of Music, 550 Eglinton Avenue East
http://www.operabyrequest.ca
Opera in concert form (singing accompanied by piano). Prices are only about $20.

Opera in Concert
St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts, 27 Front Street East
http://www.operainconcert.com
Exactly what it says: opera in concert. No acting, costumes, stage sets etc. Pure music. Mounts about 5 shows per year. They’ve been presenting concerts since 1974. Prices start around $38. They also offer a 45 minute pre-performance presentation about the opera and its composer to help the audience understand what’s going on. I haven’t been to this yet but plan to attend one soon, so I’ll update this page then and let you know what I think.

Opera York
Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts, 10268 Yonge St, Richmond Hill (suburb of Toronto)
http://www.operayork.com
Mounts a couple of productions a year. Tickets start at around $35.

Tapestry New Opera
55 Mill Street, Building 58, The Cannery, Studio 316, Distillery District
https://tapestryopera.com
An opera company dedicated to creating and performing “new” operas. For example, a recent one was “Iron Road” based on the story of the Chinese immigrant labourers who built part of the Canadian railroad. Usually mounts 3 shows a year. Prices are around $40.

Toronto Operetta
St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts, located at 27 Front Street East
http://www.torontooperetta.com
Puts on an average of four shows a year. Popular shows like the Pirates of Penzance. Prices start at around $39. The lighthearted side of Toronto opera.

Toronto City Opera
http://www.torontocityopera.com  Operates out of Bickford Centre at 777 Bloor St W.

Opera on Film

Do you want to see that show at the MET in New York City but just can’t make it down there this weekend? Live filmed productions are now available in a Cineplex theatre in Toronto. I haven’t tried this out yet but plan to test it someday, and when I do, I’ll post my findings here.

For more information

For listings and Toronto opera reviews, see http://www.thewholenote.com, “a classical and post-classical concert listing source, serving Toronto, the Greater Toronto Area, and beyond.” You can usually find a free copy of this magazine at libraries, too.

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