Follow Uncle John on Schmopera

Rehearsals for Uncle John, AtG's collaboration with the Banff Centre and the Canadian Opera Company, are underway in Banff! Follow Schmopera to stay up-to-date on the goings-on.

About Open Space

Open Space is a one-of-a-kind performance-based collaborative training experience for emerging opera professionals that truly challenges the conventions of opera performance, production, and design.

The program will accept 8 young professionals for a 4-week intensive residency devoted to practical skill extension and development, while participating in Uncle John, a modern interpretation of Mozart’s Don Giovanni. This adaptation will feature a new English libretto written by Against the Grain Theatre's artistic director Joel Ivany.

Meet Uncle John (Don Giovanni)

He's modern, sexy, and confident. Known to his friends as the suave "Uncle John", his ability to seduce many conquests with charm and good looks is unrivalled. He's off to a wedding - a setting that always allows him to work his magic. But this particular wedding presents a new challenge: Uncle John decides to go after the bride.

Against the Grain Theatre’s Uncle John will be a modern, English adaptation of Mozart’s Don Giovanni set in Banff, 2014. Against the Grain Theatre productions are well known for being intimate, visceral, and always engaging. This promises to be no different.

Who is AtG?

Joel “Ginger Ninja” Ivany

Joel had the crazy idea to start this company and serves as Artistic Director, when he's not slowly climbing the opera career ladder by freelancing as a stage director. He has written two original librettos performed by Against the Grain Theatre.

Christopher “Matzo Ball” Mokrzewski

Pianist, vocal coach and conductor Christopher “Topher” Mokrzewski is a steadily rising figure in the worlds of Canadian opera and chamber music. He was recently appointed Resident Conductor of Calgary Opera, and is a founding member and Music Director of Against the Grain Theatre.

Caitlin “Half-Pint” Coull

Caitlin Coull is a founding member of AtG. She honed her chops at the Canadian Opera Company, where she worked in communications for five years. By day she leads the communications department of the Art Gallery of Ontario, and by night she can be found refilling wine glasses at parties in the home she shares with her husband, AtG music director Topher Mokrzewski.

Cecily “T-Bone” Carver

An opera obsessive specializing in technology and social media, Cecily Carver joined the Against the Grain Theatre team in 2012 as its community engagement advisor. She is currently the co-founder/director of Dames Making Games, a non-profit community organization for women game-makers.

Miriam “The Leb” Khalil

One of Canada's rising sopranos, Miriam has sung at Glyndebourne, Aldeburgh, and with Canadian Companies and Orchestras from coast to coast. She is also a graduate of the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio and a founding member of ATG. Her roles with Against the Grain Theatre include Mimi in La Bohème, the Governess in The Turn of the Screw, and Susanna in Figaro's Wedding.

Nina "The Hammer" Draganic

By day, Nina Draganic is the Canadian Opera Company's Director of Programming, Free Concert Series in the RBA. By night she brings some serious cred to the AtG team as its artistic advisor. Praised by music critic John Terauds as "the most significant concert presenter in [Toronto] outside of the TSO," she has made a lasting impact on the COC and the Toronto cultural scene by creating one of the most popular and highly regarded concert series in the city.

Allison “NKOTB” Bent

A genuine East coaster and the newest kid on the block of the AtG team, Allison Bent brings experience from both sides of the stage. As a percussionist, she holds degrees in performance from the University of Toronto, Cleveland State University, and The Glenn Gould School. Allison has performed with many orchestras in Canada and the US, including the Toronto Symphony, the Winnipeg Symphony, the Buffalo Philharmonic, and the Canadian Opera Company. By day she works as an artist representative with one of Canada's best classical music agencies.