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Toronto

The Next Generation of Indie Opera Companies in Toronto

“Opera has the best chance out of all the performing arts to engage those new audiences, because it’s at the extreme end of the live performance spectrum.” ~ Michael Mori, Artistic Director of Tapestry New Opera

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Last week, I was lucky enough to be invited to the “indie opera potluck”, a get-together of independent opera companies that have recently emerged in Toronto. Michael Mori, artistic director of Tapestry New Opera initiated the first one back in January, and this second event was hosted by Rachel Krehm, general manager of Opera Five.

“Do the companies here mind sharing when they actually got started?” Maureen Batt of Essential Opera asked on a hunch during a discussion between courses.

It turns out that almost all the companies represented — FAWN opera, Bicycle Opera Project, Against the Grain, Metro Youth Opera, and montreal-based Opera da Camera — were founded in 2010 or shortly after, a social phenomenon that had caught the attention of Christina Loewen, executive director of Opera.ca, who was also in attendance.

Read on…

Q & A with Against the Grain Theatre’s Joel Ivany

There is something about telling stories that is timeless.  Whether it’s a play, a musical or an opera, we are sharing in the telling of a great story.  We (hopefully) slip away from all the things pressing on our minds and enter into something new and different, which then (again, hopefully) stirs something in us afterwards and makes us think.

In the second part of our two-part Q & A with Against the Grain Theatre, founder and artistic director Joel Ivany shares with us his passion for storytelling through theatre and for making opera accessible, as well as some particular challenges of the art form.

If you haven’t checked out their work yet, may we suggest catching an hour-long sneak preview of the theatre’s upcoming production, Figaro’s Wedding, taking place today (May 16) at 12 p.m. at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts? It’s part of the Canadian Opera Company’s Free Concert Series, featuring our friends Edwin Huizinga and Carol Gimbel of Music in the Barns. And yes, it’s free!

In the meantime, this promotional video captures the spirit of their production in off-the-cuff, reality TV style as the camera follows Figaro on his way to propose to his beloved.

Read part 2 of the Q & A.

Q & A with Against the Grain Theatre’s Nancy Hitzig

Emerging companies are an essential part of the arts ecosystem and we need to produce innovative work to inspire and support the work of our bigger compatriots.

Ad-hoc performing arts collectives, such as Against the Grain Theatre (AtG), often don’t qualify for operating funds. For these collectives, the scramble for resources is an ever-present challenge. Yet it’s amazing how often the most unique and creative works, even when they’re reinventions of oft-produced classics, come out of such collectives when every production can make or break them.

One such production is AtG’s upcoming adaptation of Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, titled Figaro’s Wedding (May 29-June 2, 2013, Burroughes Building, 6th Floor), which takes place in contemporary Toronto and is intended to make audiences feel as if they were attendees of a wedding rather than an opera performance. The unconventional setting and new English libretto offers a new way of connecting with an old classic, and we’re pleased to be doing a two-part feature on the team behind the scene!

In the first of the two-part Q & A with Against the Grain Theatre, general manager Nancy Hitzig gives us a glimpse of the kinds of challenges faced by ad-hoc theatre collectives.

Read part 1 of this Q & A.

Loved Doubt the movie? Go see the play (for free.)

Since our Q&A with Bygone Theatre, we have become inspired to try something new. We are giving away two tickets to their production of Doubt: A Parable (running Jan 17-19, 2013) in order to encourage YOU to experience and discover more of the performing arts.

Doubt: A Parable has gained popular recognition through the 2008 film release of Doubt, featuring a powerhouse cast of Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Amy Adams. But what would it be like to experience it in its original form as theatre?

To qualify for the pair of tickets, simply respond to this question in the comments, on Facebook, or through Twitter: Is Father Flynn guilty or innocent?

We will select and announce the lucky winners this Wednesday, January 16th at 5 p.m.

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