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The Canadian Opera Company announced this morning that it is extending the contract of music director Johannes Debus through to the end of the 2016-17 season.
Since first appearing at the Four Seasons Centre four years ago to conduct the company’s excellent production of Sergei Prokofiev’s War and Peace — and being immediately hired to replace the musical void left by the death of former general director Richard Bradshaw — Debus has brought an exceptional degree of musical sensitivity to the podium.
Debus officially began his duties as music director during the 2009-10 season, under a three-year contract. Despite being only 35 at the time, he quickly managed to charm the COC Orchestra, patrons and Toronto opera lovers with his skills on and off the podium.
“The COC Orchestra is for me a unique ensemble,” said Debus in the press release. “They are very generous artists of exceptional skill who allow conductors to be better than we might think we are. These extraordinary players combine incredible musicianship with an enormous willingness to express and explore the music beyond what we all know and are accustomed to. For them, as it is for me, it is about serving the art of the music.”
Debus conducts two or three productions each season — currently Christopher Alden’s unusual take on Johann Strauss Jr’s Die Fledermaus — as well as being responsible for orchestral hiring and being part of the artistic planning team at the COC.
Debus has also, since last season, assembled a small series of chamber music concerts using COC Orchestra musicians for the company’s free lunchtime series at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre.