Stage Door News

Toronto: The Canadian Opera Company cancels all in-person programming for fall 2020

Monday, June 22, 2020

Given continued restrictions on large public gatherings in Toronto due to ongoing precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Canadian Opera Company will be cancelling all in-person performances, programming, and events through the fall of its 2020/2021 season.

“Since the cancellation of our spring season back in March, we have been actively exploring every option regarding what our return to the stage might look like in our current reality,” says COC General Director Alexander Neef.

“There was much to consider,” Neef continues. “Opera gathers talent from all around the world to work together in close quarters, requires an extensive rehearsal schedule, plenty of advance planning, and – to remain economically viable – an auditorium full of people, without whom no live performance is complete. Taking all of these factors into account, plus the many unknowns around public health guidelines in the fall, this was the only viable course of action to ensure the continued safety of our artists, staff, and audiences.”

The remainder of the COC’s 2020/2021 season is scheduled to proceed as planned with Bizet’s Carmen, Janáček’s Katya Kabanova, Verdi’s La Traviata, and Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice.

The COC Ensemble Studio will continue developing the country’s top young opera artists and working remotely as required. Over the past months, COC trainers have used digital resources to deliver vocal, diction, language, dramatic, and performance kinetics coaching amongst others. Both incoming and returning members will also continue to receive mentorship, career guidance, and remotely-filmed performance opportunities until live performance is once again deemed safe.

Parsifal Rescheduled for Fall 2022

This fall was to mark a major milestone for the Canadian Opera Company with the company set to stage its first-ever production of Wagner’s epic Parsifal. However, the COC confirms that the opera has been rescheduled to the fall of 2022.

“I realize that Parsifal’s cancellation for this season will initially come as a disappointment to many,” says COC General Director Alexander Neef. “This production caps a decade-long, community-led effort to stage Wagner’s final work here, and we are so thankful for the ongoing support of our donors. The passion and commitment of our Monumental Campaign supporters has ensured that we can bring Parsifal to our stage, and it is thanks to them that we can still share this magnificent opera with Canadian audiences in the near future.”

Full List of Affected Programming and Events

Richard Wagner’s Parsifal and Wolfgang A. Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro

The mainstage productions, slated to run from September 25 – November 7, 2020, will not be performed as part of the COC’s 2020/2021 fall season.

Opera for Young Audiences: Fantasma

The world premiere of the recently commissioned production, composed by COC Composer-in-Residence Ian Cusson with libretto by Colleen Murphy and directed by COC Director/Dramaturg-in-Residence Julie McIsaac, will be rescheduled from December 2-6, 2020 to later dates in the spring of 2021. 

Ensemble Studio Competition and Centre Stage Gala

The annual vocal competition and signature fundraiser will not take place as planned on November 4, 2020. Further details will be announced at a later date.

The Free Concert Series in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre

The company’s popular performance showcase will not take place while physical distancing measures are in effect. Instead, work is underway to ensure that the music continues in a digital format.

Education & Outreach

All in-person programming dedicated to children, youth, and families will be paused until further notice. In the immediate, the company will continue to create educational materials, webinars, and interactive programming in a digital format.

Ticketing Options

A number of flexible ticketing solutions have been created for affected ticket-holders. Options range from tax receipts issued for ticket donation, converting ticket value to gift certificate credit that never expires, or full refund; complete details are listed at

This past spring, more than 2,100 patrons chose to donate the face value of their tickets back to the Canadian Opera Company in an overwhelming show of support for the company and for Canadian opera.

Both the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts and the company’s administrative office at 227 Front St. E. remain closed to the public until further notice, with full-time staff continuing to work off-site. The COC Box Office is currently operating remotely, Mondays through Fridays, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Further ticketing inquiries can be directed to or by phone at 416-363-8231.

Embracing a Digital Future

In the wake of the company’s spring cancellations due to COVID-19, the COC has taken its programming online, resulting in the creation of a Digital Content Hub found at The online portal houses all of the COC’s digital initiatives, including: the Virtual Choir, a video chorus that received hundreds of submissions from all over the globe; Songs of Hope, an intimate online concert from the COC Ensemble Studio slated to premiere online on July 9, 2020; and Opera Makers, a series of bite-sized video tutorials for young people.

The COC is committed to continued innovation and exploring more opportunities for audiences to engage with the art form. Later this summer the company will invite subscribers, members, and other patrons to participate in a survey about what they have enjoyed online and what they would most like to see next.

A public virtual roundtable is also scheduled for July 6 at 7 p.m. where COC General Director Alexander Neef will discuss plans for the months ahead and answer questions from participants. Further details will be posted to as they are confirmed.

Photo: Jonas Kaufmann as Parisfal. © 2013 The Metropolitan Opera.