Ever have one of those trips that was really, really, great – even better than you expected? Well that’s what Sandra and I did this weekend when we went to Toronto to do some auditions at the COC, Canada’s flagship opera company. We heard dozens of singers over the course of Saturday and Sunday; some were represented by agencies from all over North America, and others were part of the COC’s Ensemble Program, with the auditions taking place in the COC’s sonorous and vast rehearsal hall space at the Imperial Oil Theatre on Front Street. What was so striking about this particular round of auditions was overall exceptional quality of the singers we heard. Sometimes auditions can be a bit of a grab-bag, kind of like Forrest Gump’s metaphorical “box of chok-lits”, where you really don’t know what you’re gonna get; this round however was like one exciting discovery after another, particularly amongst the young artists of the Ensemble program. These young singers, almost all of them under 25, have some of the most wonderfully moving, and expressive instruments I’ve heard in a long time. I think there is great promise and potential here, and in a few more years when this group of young professionals launch out on their own, Canada, and the world, are going to witness the advent of some truly great artists. I can’t wait for us to able to bring some of them to Edmonton so you can hear them too!