Canada loses rest of its opera season

Canada loses rest of its opera season


norman lebrecht

October 06, 2020

Canadian Opera Company bows to the inevitable:

An Important Update on the Canadian Opera Company’s 2020/2021 Season
By Alexander Neef

With the changing temperatures in the air and the fall months upon us, it’s hard to imagine that an entire summer has gone by — and, with it, continued developments around COVID-19 guidelines, including allowances for performing arts organizations in Toronto.

Earlier this summer, our team made a promise to ourselves – and to you –to explore every possible option for going ahead with the remainder of our planned 2020/2021 season. Given the ongoing uncertainties around large-scale gatherings, however, it has become clear that cancelling all our originally planned winter and spring programming is the right decision for our staff, artists, and audience members.

Affected programming includes:

– Bizet’s Carmen, Janáček’s Katya Kabanova, Verdi’s La Traviata, and Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice
– The world premiere of our recently commissioned Opera for Young Audiences production, Fantasma
– All special events, including our annual Operanation and Fine Wine Auction fundraisers



  • Dalledu Alletre says:

    “Given the ongoing uncertainties … it has become clear that cancelling all our … spring programming is the right decision.”

    No European company is behaving this way! It is just dereliction and managerial laziness, from North America’s seventh-largest opera company.

    • IntBaritone says:

      Here’s the thing – it’s not. The fact is, these companies are not sponsored by government funds to the same level as European concerts. So you cannot put on an opera with 200 people in attendance in North America due to financial constraints.

      Before you make comments like that, make sure you know what you’re talking about.

      • Dalledu Alletre says:

        So do nothing? Nothing at all? Nothing in April, May, June 2021? Come on! What about the musicians’ livelihoods and skills?

        • Will you shut up MAN!?!? JB says:

          There’s no time to care about work!

          The Democrat narrative dictates:
          1 HATE Trump daily
          2 Wash your hands, etc
          3 HATE Trump again

          What’s the benefit of working anyway?

          The Left wants a mixture of socialism and communism and never talks about the rioting positions/jobs they created. They put out poverty statistics instead and get “offended”.

      • AB says:

        You are totally right: in Europe it is Governments order and social mission to keep the arts accessible to the people. So to each seat and ticket the government pays a subvention. Because the costs of the chorus, singers, production costs, technicians, orchestra are much higher than the ticket income.
        In the USA and Canada – without these subventions – the cost of one seat for an opera show would exceed several thousands of dollars, if you play only for 300-500 spectators… And then the house would stay completely empty.

        • August Edwards says:

          Absolutely correct! Most people, including opera lovers, have no idea of what it costs to mount an opera. I do not have the numbers, but for every soloist, chorus member, orchestra musician, ballet, or supernumerary, there are teams of people backstage constructing sets, moving the sets, electricians, musical assistants, costume production, rehearsal pianists, armies of talented and skilled workers; it just goes on and on! The revenue from a full house of four thousand people at The Met, even with most tickets on the main floor, parterre and dress circle in the three and four hundred dollar range, does not begin to cover the cost of “an evening at the opera!”

      • Darren Swietzer says:

        Glad the opera companies in the US are all closed up. Tired of hearing about their problems. Let ‘em all go already!!!!

        Good comment IntBaritone!

      • Tom Hase says:

        This is a very simplistic point of view. Of course, the Canadian or US government does not subsidize opera houses directly, as do some (not all!) European governments. However, no Canadian or US opera house could survive solely on ticket sales without sponsoring. However, sponsors get massive tax benefits for supporting the arts (and without those, there would be no sponsoring!), so in the end the tax payer pays large amounts of money for opera houses on both sides of the atlantic. In some European countries, the government thinks that it is important to keep the opera houses open whenever possible, even if this creates a deficit (or rather a higher deficit, every opera house in the world runs a “deficit”). There is no reason why sponsors in the US or Canada could not come to the same conclusion.

    • V. Lind says:

      His mind’s already in France.

    • Maria says:

      A very thoughtless comment, not least about the differences in funding in both continents. Europe is not a country so every country of Europe is different! How Americans love to say Europe when they mean Germany followed by France! LOL! And Belfast is part of England when they mean UK, now out of the EU but still part of the continent of Europe.

    • Eli says:

      It’s an oversimplistic view implying that European companies are not behaving this way. Surely many of them will have this same fate, but they are rather delaying it. As a musician myself, I’d rather know earlier if a season is scrapped than later, so actually, I appreciate them tell us in advance.

      One thing to say is that there is a presumption that the North American system is not well funded. Yes and no, in the USA many very wealthy people decide to put their tax money into the arts, and many times they exceed any possible government funding. In Canada, they have a hybrid system much like the UK.

  • Petros Linardos says:

    The inevitable in Toronto was the debatable in New York.

  • Karl says:

    Maybe the musicians have given up and are all planning to leave this planet on the giant space ark. Human life on Earth is doomed from this horrible COVID plague. Our only chance is to flee into deep space. I reserved my seat.


    In Australia, something similar is occurring. Opera Australia, which is the closest thing we have to a national opera company, is getting rid of core staff: chorus members, orchestra. Soloists were casualised well before Covid. Public funding is at about 24% of total budget. The present Federal government is actively hostile to the arts in general, and to tertiary humanities education. I find it difficult to consider this situation without sadness and nostalgia. In contrast, Angela Merkel announced right at the start of the pandemic, that her government would adequately support the arts.