top of page

What is Operetta?

Broadway has it but likes to call them Musicals. London's West End pretends it is all new. We know better. Some do ask, what is this art form we call operetta. Simple! A light, humorous, theatrical presentation typically including a wealth of melodic invention with spoken dialogue, dance and extraordinary singing, that's operetta. Originating in France and spreading like fire within a few years throughout Europe before it charmed the whole world.

Hear masterpieces such as THE MERRY WIDOW and MY FAIR seduced by exquisite COUNTESS at the satirical edge of CANDIDE...let KISMET beguile you or go topsy turvey in THE MIKADO. Wave the flag for our Canadian musical hero LEO,THE ROYAL CADET and cheer for EARNEST, THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING, TOT's own 21st Century Canadian operetta. All of this is Operetta accompanied by a twinkling eye and a tapping toe.

Past Toronto Operetta Theatre performance

For sure Operetta Lives On!

WICKED, LES MISERABLES, MAMMA MIA, THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, THE DROWSY CHAPERONE carry on a tradition that is nothing else but operetta as Music Comedy, Musicals, Opera Bouffe, Light Opera or Spanish Zarzuelas.

A bit about TOT...

Toronto Operetta Theatre is Canada's only professional operetta company. TOT was launched with performances of Lehar's THE COUNT OF LUXEMBOURG in 1985 and was incorporated as a not-for-profit performing arts organization in 1989. Over 58 operetta productions have followed, including performances of seldom seen works such as CZARDAS PRINCESS, WIENER BLUT, LA VIE PARISIENNE, THE BEGGAR STUDENT, and LAND OF SMILES.


A Sunday Matinee concert series was introduced in 1989 to explore the works of composers such as Ivor Novello, Kurt Weill, Franz von Suppé, Victor Herbert, Reynaldo Hahn, Edward German and Leo Fall. The number of performances expanded from 4 to 21 performances as did the European-centered repertoire choices, which now include works for the lyric stage from Latin American, the United States, Spain and Canada.


TOT's alumni include: Colin Ainsworth, Elizabeth Beeler, Russell Braun, Lara Ciekiewicz, Grant Cowan, Elizabeth DeGrazia, Sally Dibblee, Mark DuBois, Alexander Dobson, Meredith Hall, Barbara Hannigan, Keith Klassen, Robert Longo, Gary Relyea, Jean Stilwell, and Laura Whalen. Conductors have included Raffi Armenian, Derek Bate, Robert Cooper, Victor Feldbrill, Susan Haig, Alexis Hauser, Jose Hernandez, Jeffrey Huard, Kevin Mallon, David Speers, Wayne Strongman and Julian Wachner.


The Canadian classic LEO, THE ROYAL CADET (1889) by Oscar Telgmann returned to the stage after a seven-decade absence with Toronto composer and conductor John Greer's re-imagined orchestration, built from existing fragments. Calixa Lavallée's THE WIDOW was presented in February 2004 and EARNEST, THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING by composer Victor Davies and librettist Eugene Benson made its World Premiere on February 23, 2008. Broadcasts by Classical 96.3 FM Radio with the late Michael Campeau helped TOT introduce the music of Ivor Novello to thousands of radio listeners. TOT was twice a participant in the Toronto Street Festival joining forces with such participants as the Toronto Symphony at the Scotiabank Site on St. Clair Avenue. TOT has toured to Brantford, Sault St. Marie, Welland, Belleville, Orangeville, Collingwood, Kitchener Waterloo, Haliburton and the Algoma Fall Festival for concert presentations and fully-staged productions.

"Music Makes for a Merry, Magical, Widow"


"Give this group a classic genre piece like The Merry Widow, which opened last night at the Jane Mallett Theatre, then watch them rise to the occasion beautifully."

-- Richard Ouzounian; Toronto Star

Four Stars

Canada's Premiere Operetta Company

The world premiere of


58 Operetta Productions Covering the Full Gamut of the Art Form


Resident Company at the
Newly Renovated 
St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts


Top Canadian Artists and
Brilliant Up-and-Coming Talent


Record Attendance and
Sold Out Performances


High Critical Acclaim from Canadian
and International Media

Dynamic leadership by Toronto Operetta Theatre's General Director Guillermo Silva-Marin


"Ten Most Influential Hispanic-Canadians" (2008) award-winner Guillermo Silva-Marin is the founder and continuing General Director of Toronto Operetta Theatre. A modern day Renaissance man, Guillermo Silva-Marin claims experience as a performer, stage director, writer, set and lighting designer, teacher and producer. Performance highlights include appearances with the Canadian Opera Company, New York City Opera, the Metropolitan Opera, Cincinnati Opera, and symphony orchestras in Toronto, Ottawa, Edmonton, El Paso, Mexico and Puerto Rico. He became the General Director of the prestigious Opera in Concert organization in 1994 and founded Summer Opera Lyric Theatre in 1986. His commitment to the advancement and promotion of Canadian singers has been exemplary. He has maintained a minimalist philosophy as stage director and has, to a fault, emphasized dramatic truth and adherence to the highest standards of excellence in performance with admirable results and enthusiastic response from audiences, critics and artists alike. He was instrumental in producing three recordings released internationally on the Naxos label including CASTOR ET POLLUX by Rameau, RINALDO by Handel and LA GRISELDA by Vivaldi, all featuring Canadian artists. Mr. Silva-Marin has staged a significant number of operas and operettas with companies including the Toronto Operetta Theatre, Summer Opera Lyric Theatre, Opera de San Juan, Memorial University and the Aspen, Huntsville and Courteney Music Festivals. He made his debut in Ireland directing Opera Cork's THE MERRY WIDOW in 2007 in association with conductor Kevin Mallon. His CARMEN FLAMENCO! with Arte Flamenco! Spanish Dance Co. received two separate productions. Mr. Silva-Marin joined Opera McGill at McGill University in Montreal as stage director for Ravel's L'ENFANT ET LES SORTILEGES in 1998. In the following 8 years he staged Ward's THE CRUCIBLE. Mozart's LE NOZZE DI FIGARO, Weisgall's SIX CHARACTERS IN SEARCH OF AN AUTHOR, Handel's SEMELE, a semi-staged version of Verdi's FALSTAFF, Mozart's IDOMENEO and Bernstein's CANDIDE. During the 2006-2007 academic year, he served as Co-Director of Opera McGill, sharing these duties with conductor Julian Wachner. He was instrumental in bringing to a successful completion the World Premiere of EARNEST, THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING by Canadian composer Victor Davies and librettist Eugene Benson in February 2008 and the World Premiere of KAMOURASKA by Charles Wilson in 2009. Mr. Silva-Marin appears in recent editions of the Canadian WHO'S WHO.

A Message from
Guillermo Silva-Marin,
General Director

The adventure starts anew after two and a half years of pandemic challenges and all its restrictions.


We offer you a season filled with melodies, humour and romance. TOT has restored the Cabaret Series at The Edward Jackman Centre highlighting great works for the lyric stage featuring some of our most engaging performers. All at pre-pandemic price level.


A TOT show is the most accessibly priced entertainment in the city. If you take advantage of our subscription packages, TOT offers you a sweet-heart of a deal.


Please consider joining the TOT Friends in 2022 with a donation towards the funding of our emerging singers, our young talent in search of career options in the national and international arena.


Please keep in mind that these same singers will enrich our lives in myriads of ways as they reach their goals of performance success. All in all, Offenbach, Strauss and Bretón await your visit. They plan to entertain you like few other composers can. 

The Board of Directors

Parandis Tajbakhsh, President

Alex Kei-Yip Kwok, Treasurer

Dorothy Calot, Secretary

Maria-Dolores Gonzalez

Kathy Keyi Jia

Mary Anne Sait

Alexander Shipilov

Cristina Trillo

Message from Parandis Tajbakhsh, President of the Board

The Board of Directors of Toronto Operetta Theatre take great pride and much pleasure in furthering the mandate of this unique Canadian arts organization, now entering its 34th year. Each member of the Board commits talent, time and enormous energy to ensure that the company's performance and governance goals are met. In response to the challenges faced during the worldwide economic downturn, the Board and all TOT Volunteers have given their attention to a recovery strategy that aims at "keeping Operetta on the stage". A concerted effort to balance financial concerns with efficient resource management has helped TOT maintain the artistic calibre of its productions. The Board of Directors is immensely grateful to all private, corporate and foundation supporters who have joined our efforts for recovery.


We cordially extend an invitation to those interested in contributing towards TOT's well being to consider serving at Board Level. Make your interest known by simply calling or by sending an e-mail to TOT. We would be delighted to have a conversation.


(416) 922-2912
bottom of page