Johannes Debus

Canadian Opera Company audiences can look forward to five more years with Johannes Debus as the company's Music Director. The news of Debus' contract renewal through to the company's 2020/2021 season was announced today by COC General Director Alexander Neef at the public launch of the COC's 2016/2017 season at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.

"I am very pleased that Johannes has renewed his contract as Music Director. He is a tremendous musician and brings a wonderful energy to the company that makes everyone raise the bar of excellence just a bit higher," says COC General Director Alexander Neef. "We've been planning performance seasons into 2020 and beyond for some time now and Johannes has been part of those plans. I'm delighted that he'll be with the company to see the projects we've started to program through to their fruition."

"Looking back at how the COC has grown, as well as looking ahead to the projects being developed, I feel I am at the right place at the right time. I am incredibly lucky to work in a company that allows me the creative freedom to conduct the full repertoire, from Baroque opera through to works of the 21st century. It's a rare opportunity," says COC Music Director Johannes Debus. "I am incredibly grateful for how I've been welcomed by everyone at the COC, by our patrons and my colleagues in Toronto's arts community. I'm thrilled that I get to continue my journey with this world-class company in such a world-class city."

As Music Director, Debus is the leader of the COC Orchestra, responsible for conducting several operas per season, as well as overseeing the orchestra- including participating in auditions and filling open orchestra positions. Debus also works closely with the COC Chorus and the Ensemble Studio, and, as an integral member of the artistic administrative team, he shares responsibility for repertoire and casting decisions.

In recent years, Debus was instrumental in the creation of the COC Orchestra Academy. Launched in January 2014, and developed in collaboration with The Glenn Gould School at the Royal Conservatory of Music and the University of Toronto's Faculty of Music, the COC Orchestra Academy is a mentorship program offering student musicians professional insight and experience in their pursuit of a career in an opera orchestra. The annual threeweek intensive training program pairs student musicians with members of the COC Orchestra, giving them handson experience on how an operatic performance comes together. The program continues to grow with more opportunities offered each year. New to the 2016 session are additional public performances with the COC Orchestra and opera singers from the COC, as well as masterclasses and private sessions with opera singers, production personnel and visiting music staff.

Debus has also significantly raised the public profile of the COC Orchestra with the company's internationally acclaimed musicians now heard in performance on multiple occasions outside of a mainstage production. On January 13, 2016, the COC Orchestra performed for the second time at the company's annual season launch, previewing the 16/17 season for COC patrons. The COC Orchestra is also now an exciting feature of Centre Stage, the company's annual vocal showcase of young artists vying for a spot in the COC's prestigious Ensemble Studio training program, accompanying the young artists in performance since 2014. In addition, since 2012, Debus has curated a mini-festival of concerts featuring members of the COC Orchestra, in various combinations, offered as part of the COC's Free Concert Series in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre at the Four Seasons Centre.

Debus made his debut with the COC in the fall of 2008 conducting the company's critically acclaimed production of War and Peace, and began his appointment as the COC's Music Director in the 2009/2010 season. Since then, he has conducted over 15 productions for the COC, including the recent world premiere of Barbara Monk Feldman's Pyramus and Thisbe in fall 2015. Debus is currently in rehearsal for the COC's presentation of Wagner's Siegfried and Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro, both of which he will be conducting. Born in 1974 in Speyer, Germany, Debus has established a reputation for himself in many of the great opera houses and festivals of Europe. As the former resident conductor for the Frankfurt Opera, where he also worked as pianist, coach and assistant conductor for over 10 years, Debus gained an impressive conducting repertoire ranging from Mozart to Berg, and Rossini to Strauss, as well as many 20th- and 21st-century works. In August 2012 he made his Cleveland Orchestra debut with A Night at the Opera at the Blossom Festival. Debus made his Tanglewood Festival debut in 2010 conducting The Abduction from the Seraglio with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and subsequently appeared at Symphony Hall, again with the BSO. Debus has also appeared at the Spoleto Festival, Bayerische Staatsoper, Staatsoper unter den Linden in Berlin, Festival d'opéra de Québec and the Merola Opera Program at San Francisco Opera. He has also conducted the Nashville, New Jersey and Montreal symphonies, as well as the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa. He made his debut at the BBC Proms with the Britten Sinfonia in September 2014 and conducted a new production of The Tales of Hoffmann at the 2015 Bregenz Festival. As part of the 2015/2016 season, Debus makes his debut with the San Diego Symphony and Komische Oper, Berlin, and returns to Frankfurt Opera and to the Blossom Festival with the Cleveland Orchestra. Johannes Debus' new contract extends his tenure with the Canadian Opera Company through to June 30, 2021. The COC's 2015/2016 season marks Debus' seventh as Music Director.


About the Canadian Opera Company

Based in Toronto, the Canadian Opera Company is the largest producer of opera in Canada and one of the largest in North America. The COC enjoys a loyal audience support-base and one of the highest attendance and subscription rates in North America. Under its leadership team of General Director Alexander Neef and Music Director Johannes Debus, the COC is increasingly capturing the opera world's attention. The COC maintains its international reputation for artistic excellence and creative innovation by creating new productions within its diverse repertoire, collaborating with leading opera companies and festivals, and attracting the world's foremost Canadian and international artists. The COC performs in its own opera house, the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, hailed internationally as one of the finest in the world. Designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects, the Four Seasons Centre opened in 2006, and is also the performance venue for The National Ballet of Canada.

For more information on the COC, visit its award-winning website,