Stage Door News

Toronto: VOICEBOX: Opera in Concert announces its 50th anniversary season

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

VOICEBOX: Opera in Concert reaches a major milestone this year as it celebrates a Grand Golden Jubilee Season. “Going into our 50th year, we are both thrilled and humbled,” says General Director Guillermo-Silva-Marin. “When I jumped in at the last minute to sing Hamlet’s title role in the first season, none of us could have foreseen the popularity and value of this risky undertaking”. Founded in 1973 by the legendary coach, pianist and raconteur Stuart Hamilton, C. M., the company has defied dire predictions about opera in a concert format, unadorned and unplugged, and now symphony orchestras, and opera companies the world over vies with each other to present works of great opera composers ‘in concert’ just as OIC did 5 decades ago. 

VOICEBOX: Opera in Concert is still unique in that the company presents rare and seldom heard works…some by neglected composers such as Montemezzi and the Chevalier de St. Georges balanced with lesser-known works by the masters, such as Jules Massenet and Giuseppe Verdi. The company's mandate was also to promote and feature emerging Canadian artists, hundreds, if not thousands, now enjoying careers in the national and international arenas.

The anniversary season features three early Bel Canto influenced operas of the iconic Italian Master, Giuseppe Verdi, works that reflect OIC’s vision and mandate. The season begins on Sunday, 5 November 2023 with the Busetto master's comedy of 1840, Un giorno di regno - King for a Day – followed on Sunday, 25 February 2024 by Ernani, one of his first undoubted hits. The anniversary season concludes with La battaglia di legnano - The Battle at Legnano - on Sunday, 7 April 2024, so stirringly based on Italian history that during its premiere performances, audiences demanded that the fourth act be reprised. 

Continuing the company’s adherence to policies of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, OIC’s musical leaders for the Golden Jubilee Year will be Suzy Smith at the helm of Un giorno di regno, Narmina Afandiyeva in charge of Ernani and Helen Becqué leading the Canadian premiere of La battaglia di legnano. They will lead an impressive roster of established artists such as Andrea Núñez, Scott Rumble, Rocco Rupolo, Tonatiuh Abrego, Alexander Hajek and Justin Welsh paired with the emerging talents of Holly Chaplin, Belle Cao, and César Bello among others. Robert Cooper, who founded the Opera in Concert Chorus in 1978, will direct the chorus in all three operas.

Returning to The Edward Jackman Centre, OIC will be in a gala mood with the Opera Salon Series beginning with a Tribute to OIC’s founder Stuartissimo on October 28. Next up is The Bel Canto Quartet on November 25. Our 50th Birthday Party on March 9, 2024, concludes the series with a review of OIC’s top achievements. Join friends, patrons, and artists for a relaxed afternoon with a glass of wine and snacks.

Subscriptions at substantial savings are now on sale - all at pre-pandemic prices. Visit or call TO Live Box office at 416-366-7723 or 1-800-708-6754 to secure your seat for the season. Single tickets will go on sale from September 25th.

Opera in Concert is supported by the Jackman Foundation, the Estate of Hiroko Keith, The William and Nona Heaslip Foundation, the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, and the Toronto Arts Council, and Classical 96.3 FM is the media sponsor. The theatre is wheelchair accessible and close to public transit and municipal parking. All performances are on Sunday afternoons at the St. Lawrence Centre at 2:30 p.m.

Illustration: Portrait of Giuseppe Verdi. © 1886 Giovanni Boldini.