Against the Grain 19/20 Season Press Release

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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.