Monthly Archives: July 2019

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Against the Grain 19/20 Season Press Release

By | Ayre, Bound, Joel Ivany, Kyrie Kristmanson, Media Release, Opera Pub, Uncategorized | No Comments

Against the Grain celebrates 10 seasons of edgy, visionary opera.

Against the Grain Theatre (AtG) presents its most ambitious season to date.  The season begins with a national tour of La Bohème, a revival of the award-winning production of Figaro’s Wedding, a return of the JUNO-nominated performance of Osvaldo Golijov’s Ayre for the opening night at the 21C Music Festival in Koerner Hall and the world premiere of BOUND by Canadian composer Kevin Lau and librettist Joel Ivany.

TORONTO – Against the Grain Theatre (AtG) celebrates its 10th anniversary season on the heels of receiving two Dora Mavor Moore awards for their production of Canadian composer Claude Vivier’s only opera Kopernikus. This pivotal tenth season will see a cross-Canada tour of our beloved production of La Bohème, the revival of Figaro’s Wedding, a debut at Koerner Hall’s 21C Music Festival with Osvaldo Golijov’s Ayre and the world premiere of the highly anticipated finale of BOUND.  AtG’s “standing room only” #OperaPubseries continues for another season at the Amsterdam Bicycle Club and presents a free concert at the Canadian Opera Company’s Free Concert Series in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre, featuring soprano Breanna Sinclairé.

La Bohèmethe innovative AtG production that started it all and uprooted opera from the opera house, returns with a multi-province tour in partnership with Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity.  In 2011, AtG made its debut in the Toronto opera scene with an innovative interpretation of Puccini’s classic love story. The Italian libretto was translated into English and updated the 19th-century Parisian Latin-quarter setting to Toronto’s historic Tranzac Club. Our new production keeps the bar setting, but introduces it with a new Canadian cast to towns in central Canada. Meet Les Bobos: tenor Marcel D’entremont (Rodolfo), soprano Jonelle Sills (Mimì), baritone Clarence Frazer (Marcello), baritone Andrew Adridge (Schaunard), bass-baritone Giles Tomkins (Colline) and baritone Greg Finney (Benoît and Alcindoro).  Destinations include Banff, Calgary, and Medicine Hat, Alberta; Regina, Saskatchewan; Brandon and Winnipeg, Manitoba; Kenora, Thunder Bay, Sudbury and Toronto, Ontario.  Performances take place between September 27 – October 25, 2019.  See website for details.

Called “A treat from beginning to end” by the Toronto Star, Figaro’s Weddingthe winner of the Dora Award for Outstanding New Opera in 2014 triumphantly returns in a brand new production. This adaptation of Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro sees the Lorenzo Da Ponte libretto modernized, translated into English by AtG Artistic Director Joel Ivany and staged as a Toronto winter wedding with the audience cast as wedding guests. The impressive ensemble includes soprano Alexandra Smither as Susanna, baritone Bruno Roy as Figaro, soprano Miriam Khalil as Rosina (Countess) and baritone Phillip Addisas Alberto (Count). The creative team reunites several past AtG contributors, with stage direction by Ivany, music direction by Rachael Kerr, lighting design by AtG Resident Lighting Designer Jason Hand and costume and set design by Anna Treusch.  The show comes complete with ushers, a string quartet, and all the usual vows, tears, and hilarity.  All performances take place at the historic Enoch Turner Schoolhouse (106 Trinity St, Toronto) on December 3, 4, 5, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15, 18, 19  & 20, 2019.

Last season AtG launched AtG Records, a modern classical music record label and earned a JUNO nomination for their first release Ayre: Live (a live recording from November 2016 of their acclaimed stage production). Composer Osvaldo Golijov writes of soprano Miriam Khalil, “I cannot even begin to express the emotion I feel when she sings Ayre; it is as if she was born to sing it, or, even better, born for each other, she and Ayre.” Miriam Khalil has since performed Ayrewhich has become her signature piecein three countries and six different cities to great acclaim, and will open the 21C Musical Festival at Koerner Hall with this piece. The evening will also include  Golijov’s other works such as Mariel, K’vakarat, and Tenebrae. Musicians include Jamey Haddad, Barry Shiffman, Gabriel Radford, Michael Ward-Bergman, Juan Gabriel Olivares, and cantor Alex Stein. This one night only performance is presented by Koerner Hall at the 21C Music Festival (273 Bloor Street West) January 11, 2020 at 8pm.

BOUND was developed in December 2017 as a reaction to those displaced, dehumanized and mistreated by recent geopolitical conflict. AtG Artistic Director Joel Ivany has written original text and drawn from news articles and international current events as source inspiration in the creation of the story BOUND. AtG commissioned composer Kevin Lau to keep the backbone of Handel’s music while infusing his own contemporary themes, music and ideas. This season will see the final premiere of the three year concept-to-realization project led by stage director Mitchell Cushman and light designer Jason Hand. The cast includes actor Martha Burns, soprano Miriam Khalil, tenor Ernesto Ramirez and the operatic debut of transgender opera singer Breanna Sinclairé. This world premiere will be presented at Harbourfront Centre Theatre (231 Queens Quay West) between April 17-25, 2020.

On March 31, 2020, at 12:00pm, AtG will once again be featured as part of the Free Concert Series in The Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. A recital will be given by one of our artists from BOUND, Breanna Sinclairé, the only lyric soprano opera singer in the world who is transgender.

Back by popular demand, AtG’s standing room only #OperaPub series returns October 3 at the Amsterdam Bicycle Club (54 The Esplanade). Hosted by AtG Collective member David Eliakis, these free events will continue to feature opera arias and ensembles alongside witty banter and craft beers. Festivities begin at 9pm on the first Thursday of every month, and continue until May 7, 2020.

We also announce the commission of Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup, written by celebrated composer Michelle DiBucci and award-winning Canadian librettist Royce Vavrek. This opera will be a journey into a young woman’s world torn apart by abuse, neglect, addiction and apathy. It is an unflinching and compassionate look at the opioid crisis and a brutal testament on a plague that is emblematic of this decade.  Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup will be sung in English and and is set to premiere in 2021.

 

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Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup

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Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup is a new opera written by celebrated composer Michelle DiBucci and award-winning Canadian librettist Royce Vavrek, this opera will be a journey into a young woman’s world torn apart by abuse, neglect, addiction and apathy. It is an unflinching and compassionate look at the opioid crisis and a brutal testament on a plague that is emblematic of this decade.  Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup will be sung in English and and is expected to premiere in 2021.

Overview

America’s opioid epidemic is the deadliest drug crisis in US history and one of our greatest national tragedies. In 2016 alone, more Americans died from drug overdoses than from the Vietnam war, gun violence, car crashes, and HIV/AIDS combined (vox.com). Composer Michelle DiBucci has conceived a powerful new work that grapples with this complex subject on the operatic stage.

Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup is about a contemporary woman named Meri, a wife and young mother who becomes addicted to painkillers after a routine surgery.  Abandoned by a system unable to provide help, her life quickly spins out of control as she moves desperately from prescription drugs to street Heroin to feed her addiction.

Should Meri be punished, pitied or rescued? Her feelings of isolation and social alienation collide head-on with the cold calculus of a dysfunctional social system.

Structurally, the opera will loosely follow characters and scenes from the play, Woyzeck. Each scene will be a self-contained unit building on the last to form a coherent whole, as in a series of paintings by William Hogarth. The Norman Rockwellesque tableaux which open each scene will reflect a snapshot of everyday North American life.

Switching the attention away from Büchner’s protagonist, Franz Woyzeck, this opera will bring focus on Meri, the domestic partner of Frank, an Army Reserve Soldier, and father of her child.

Composer’s Statement

Stylistically, the music will encompass three sound-worlds which will overlap.

Chromatic, non-tonal sonorities represent the underlying story.

American folk music styles support the setting of Meri’s poems

Extended tertian and polytonal sonorities represent Meri’s states of “high.”

Throughout the opera, Meri will be followed by the Chorus. This vocal quartet will use contemporary vocal techniques in contrast to the operatic performance style of the other characters.

The Chorus haunts and taunts Meri and the only way to silence their ridicule and contempt is by being high on drugs.

Once Meri’s prescription is cut off, she moves to the streets in search of drugs and meets the male drug dealer, Mrs. Winslow, who will introduce her to heroin.  The name, Mrs. Winslow, is a reference to “Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup”, an opiate-laced drink that was given to babies with colic and their nervous mothers from 1849 – 1920. Tragically, many who took Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup became addicts.

DiBucci imagines the opera as an expressionistic tragedy. It presents a passionate debate on the idea of free will vs. determinism.  Moreover, it is a damming commentary on a society that seems headed towards irreversible decline. In Woyzeck, Büchner makes clear that madness is never isolated, but instead connected to the society that feeds it. In the opera, addiction will replicate this madness as a hungry ghost. 

As an artist and composer, DiBucci has many years of experience creating social-impact work that helps facilitate dialogue on complex topics. She felt compelled to shine a light on the urgent subject of opiod addiction and to raise awareness of the national catastrophe unfolding in slow motion in communities around the country. Opera, as the most complex of the dramatic forms, is the best medium to address this difficult subject. Opera involves emotion of an epic scale, which is how the composer views the devastating life of her antiheroine, Meri. With music, narrative and visual imagery, this opera will engage audiences to see, hear and feel her world in the grips of addiction.

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Come work with us!

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Executive Director

Date Posted: Jul 01, 2019
Application Deadline: Jul 22, 2019
Start Date: Sep 01, 2019

Salary Range: 40K – 60K
Province: Ontario
Region: Metro Toronto Area
City: Toronto
Employee Benefits: Other (e.g. flex time, comp tickets, etc.)
Check Additional Info section for more Employee Benefits
Organization’s Field/Discipline: The Arts
Job’s focus: Administrative
Job Type: Full-time
Career Level: Upper management

Organization Description

Against the Grain Theatre
Founded in 2010, Against the Grain Theatre (AtG)’s mandate is to exhibit fresh, daring re-interpretations of classical opera repertoire. Performing in nontraditional spaces — courtyards, bars, Victorian mansions, wedding halls — and with scaled-back accompaniment, such as a string quartet or piano, bringing out the full force of operatic singing in close quarters. The result? A thrilling, intimate, and unforgettable experience shared between our artists and audiences while maintaining the highest musical and production standards (as evidenced by our multiple Dora Awards and our recent Juno nomination).

Job Description

The Executive Director is the backbone of our organization and reports jointly to the Artistic Director and Board of Directors through the Chair.   The ED has primary responsibility for the administration of the AtG office, financial and budgeting matters and in partnership with the Artistic Director in bringing amazing art to life.   The position requires a proven track record in administration of performing arts organization, including experience in marketing, grant writing and fundraising.

RESPONSIBILITIES:

Administrative Duties:

  • Administrative: manage the day-to-day functions of the AtG office.
  • Financial: prepare and manage production and operating budgets, monitor budget development including cash flow projections, track income and expenses, prepare employment and regulatory filings as required, issue tax receipts, etc.. Oversee the work of a part-time book keeper. Assist with the preparation of audited financial statements. The ED is a signing officer of the company and reports monthly to the Board Finance Committee.
  • Fundraising: writing grant applications and pitch decks, relationship management, donor tracking, stewardship and execution on donor benefits, assist in fundraising activities, prepare post-event/production reports.
  • Board: Prepares and presents reports to the Board of Directors on productions, financial and management activity as required for each Board meeting.  The ED is an ex-officio Board member and is expected to attend bi-monthly Board meetings.

Productions:

  • Oversees the annual schedule and timelines for workshops, events and productions.
  • Hires project staff in conjunction with the Artistic Director.  Negotiates and manages all contracts (artistic, venue, rentals, etc.) and with appropriate labour organizations.
  • Books travel and accommodations for out of town artists and staff.
  • Works with the Artistic Director to source venues and suppliers in a timely manner.
  • Manages communication and marketing plan, ensuring activities are executed well and on time.
  • Directly oversees the activities of volunteers/personnel who manage the box office, front of house, communications, marketing and development.
  • Manages volunteer activities, the hiring of additional volunteers for productions, and volunteer performance.

 

Requirements:

  • Strong organizational, and administrative skills, incl. budgeting and financial reporting.
  • Self-directed problem solver, resourceful.
  • Experience in fundraising and donor stewardship with both corporate and/or individual donors.
  • Experience in grant writing and reporting, esp. Arts Councils and foundations.
  • Excellent communication skills; the ability to speak and write persuasively; mature and diplomatic interpersonal skills.
  • Experience in marketing, incl. website and social media.
  • Strong strategic and analytical skills.
  • Ability to work collaboratively with the Board, staff, volunteers, donors, suppliers, and artists.
  • Familiarity with non-profit and charitable governance (including compliance with CRA regulations, working with a Board of Directors).
  • Experience in arts management is strongly preferred.
  • Full time day-to-day office administration plus attendance during the productions and Board meetings.
  • Willing to roll up your sleeves and take on anything.

 

Additional Info:

Start Date: September 1, 2019 or prior

How to Apply:

Interested candidates are invited to send a letter of application stating salary expectations together with a resume and list of references to Heather Legg, AtG Board Chair heather@againstthegraintheatre.com

Only successful applicants will be contacted.

No phone calls please.