Ayre “was one of those nights when you go to a show and immediately wish you could see it again after the curtain.” —Schmopera
The Rape of LucretiaandA Little Too Cozy: “Another good year for AtG.” —Opera Ramblings
A Little Too Cozy: “Smart, engaging, fun, brilliant.” —PlayAnon
Ayre “represented what I believe will be an increasingly important direction in classical music; an approach that not only looks, but sounds like our ever-changing cultural mosaic.”
Liked what you saw this year? We have big plans for 2017, including an ambitious remount of La Bohème, and need your help. Your financial support goes directly into producing our next opera, and helps us hire young Canadian artists who are itching for more opportunities.
If you’ve ever wanted to help out, now’s your chance. Each and every dollar makes a difference. (And makes a great holiday present in someone’s name.)
We’ve got a beautiful new Google Form to make the signup process even simpler. Enter your information here to sing at our Thursday, January 5 Opera Pub, held at the Amsterdam Bicycle Club (54 The Esplanade, Toronto).
"Ayre is a perfect and tremendously satisfying example of cultural transcendence."
− The Globe and Mail
"The stars aligned with this project... Miriam's authenticity is palpable, whether in the romantic songs or the call to uprising."
"Khalil's performance is stunning, and to hear her sing Golijov's work adds a new level of admiration for her versatility."
"This performance was that rare thing that raises the hairs on the back of your neck."
− Opera Ramblings
"An evening of power and resonance, the kind of which deep memories are fashioned."
− The Globe and Mail
"Shocking, brilliant, thrilling. It's all conquering, a concert production of major importance, a flawless synchronicity of music and theatre."
− Opera Going Toronto
"Miriam Khalil is spellbinding, her voice at turns lustrous and radiant, savage and snarling."
− Opera Going Toronto
"Like the whole audience, I was suspended in this stasis of stirred emotion — the repercussions of which were felt long after the final bows were taken."
Invited by Ivany to address the audience on opening night, the shy, softspoken composer Osvaldo Golijov remarked, eyes twinkling, “Nations play a lot of different roles in history. Conflicts, they stay the same. Only the actors are different.”
By promoting Golijov’s vision of culture as a permeable wrapper, Against the Grain Theatre has injected a much needed dose of optimism into these uncertain times. Ayre is filled with spirit, soaring, crushed, defiant. But hope like Golijov’s music has a way of insinuating itself into the soul. We need to hear the message. Now more than ever.
Doors open at 7:30pm. Part I of our concert (three short works by Osvaldo Golijov) begins at 8pm; there is a 20-minute intermission and Part II, our fully staged presentation of Ayre, begins at 9:20pm.
Please note: This email is not your ticket. Check your inbox for your electronic tickets from TicketLeap, which you can print or display to us on your phone/tablet for entry. (In the TicketLeap email, click the link “Download the barcode ticket”.)
Set within a 6.8 hectare park, the Ismaili Centre shares a site with the Aga Khan Museum—and both have been acclaimed as twin masterpieces, designed by two of the world’s greatest architects: Charles Correa of Mumbai and Fumihiko Maki of Japan.
The entire complex is a harmonious union of the spiritual, artistic and natural worlds, and a space designed for reflection, gathering, and celebration.
The Ismaili Centre
49 Wynford Drive
Toronto, ON M3C 1K1
By car (Free parking!)
The Ismaili Centre has two parking lots which they are offering to Ayreticket-holders at no cost (so ignore those pay-parking machines). We recommend parking in the spacious, underground parking lot. Access this lot by entering the Ismaili Centre drive and making a right. Attendants will be on hand to direct you.
From Eglington Subway Station, take the 34C Eglinton East bus, which stops just outside the Ismaili Centre.
The Ismaili Centre’s entrance is fully accessible. Drive up the valet parkade and stop for a direct drop-off if desired.
What to expect
Wander through sacred halls
Ayre: An Evening of Osvaldo Golijov is actually an immersive, two-part experience. “Part I” of our evening features a promenade of music and art: you’ll walk down sacred halls to experience an exhibition by artist Jamelie Hassan and a special concert of three short works by the composer, performed by the Glenn Gould Ensemble and sopranos Adanya Dunn and Ellen McAteer. After a short intermission, we begin “Part II”, our staged presentation of Ayre.
Enjoy complimentary coffee, tea, mango & pomegranate juice, lemon water and delicious Middle Eastern cookies — courtesy our wonderful hosts at the Ismaili Centre.
Take photos and live-tweet before the performance, during intermission, and after the performance. (Just no audio or video recording, please.) Use the hashtag #AtGAyre and @atgtheatre on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat.
What to read
In many worlds at the same time
In 2004, Osvaldo Golijov wrote his song cycle Ayre for a voice nobody had heard before. Toronto writer Nikita Gourski recounts the music’s criss-crossing pilgrimage from the mind of an Argentine-Jewish composer-in-exile to the voice of a Lebanese-Canadian soprano.
“It’s important for [Toronto’s classical music scene] to get outside their comfort zone and reflect the diversity of the city.”
Lebanese-Canadian soprano Miriam Khalil and director Joel Ivany stopped by the Ismaili Centre Toronto to explore the cultural threads of Osvaldo Golijov’s electric song cycle Ayre. (The title in medieval Spanish means “air” in both the sense of “song” and the air we breathe.)
Ayre: An Evening of Osvaldo Golijov is presented in partnership with the Aga Khan Council for Canada, and the Glenn Gould School of the Royal Conservatory of Music.
Our upcoming performance Ayre: An Evening of Osvaldo Golijov is actually an immersive experience. Upon your arrival to the Ismaili Centre, Toronto, you’ll be taken to various parts of the hall to experience “Part I” of our evening. This includes Jamelie Hassan’s exhibition Light Upon Light, and special concert of three of the composer’s short works performed by the Glenn Gould Ensemble and sopranos Adanya Dunn and Ellen McAteer. Surrounded by Islamic art and architecture, from centuries-old tapestries to contemporary mosaics and intricately carved ivory walls, you’ll be transfixed and transported by the evening.
“A broken song played on a shattered cimbalom.” Thus, writes Kafka, begins Yiddishbbuk, a collection of apocryphal psalms. Golijov attempts to reconstruct that disappeared music, creating a three-movement work “in the mode of the Babylonic Lamentations.”
Lúa Descolorida (2002)
Based on a poem by 19th-century romanticist María Rosalía de Castro and written in Gallego (the language of Spain’s Galician region), this haunting nocturne is sung by a lover to the moon.
Golijov imagined this music “as the slow, quiet reading of an illuminated medieval manuscript.” Melismatic elongations of syllables from the Hebrew alphabet signal the beginning of new chapters, leading to the ending section built around a single, repeated word: “Jerusalem.”
Christopher Hoile writes in the latest issue of WholeNote Magazine:
“A third production in November also breaks contemporary notions of genre. This is the song cycle Ayre (2004) by Argentinian composer Osvaldo Golijov (born 1960) presented by Against the Grain Theatre from November 10 to 12 at the Ismaili Centre. The title in medieval Spanish means “air” in both the sense of “song” and the air we breathe. The song cycle is a juxtaposition of Arabic, Hebrew, Sardinian and Sephardic folk melodies and texts. The soloist will be Miriam Khalil accompanied by an 11-member ensemble with stage direction by AtG founder and artistic director Joel Ivany and lighting by Jason Hand. Golijov, Ivany and Khalil all met at Banff this past summer and Golijov sat in on rehearsals of the piece. Though not an opera, critics have repeatedly called the work “dramatic.” Ivany says this is the first time anyone has “taken the work a step further” by staging it. He says, “Miriam will have memorized the entire piece and will thus be free to use movement and gesture to illuminate the texts and to tie them together visually.” Ivany is excited that Golijov plans to attend the first two of the performances in Toronto.”
We weren’t sure what to expect at our inaugural Opera Pub event. But last Thursday, more than 100 music fans, and friends (and a handful of folks who had no idea what they were in for) turned up at the Amsterdam Bicycle Club to hear some Friends of AtG Sing the Operatic Hits.
A huge thanks to performers Krisztina Szabó, Aaron Durand, Stephanie Tritchew, Clarence Frazer, Cait Wood and John Brancy, and maestro Topher Mokrzewski, who banged out the tunes on our newly-bought Craigslist piano.
“A packed house of opera enthusiasts were reminded of the joys of spontaneous music-making at Against the Grain Theatre’s first edition of Opera Pub, their new series of casual concerts where you can experience music in a different space with a beer in hand and not many rules…. It had the feeling of an after party when musicians kicked back, loosened up and playfully made music with their friends.”—Musical Toronto
“It was loud, it was fun and the audience, not all of whom I suspect knew what they were in for, stayed.”—Opera Ramblings
We’re looking for friendly and outgoing volunteers for Ayre (November 10, 11, 12), taking place at the Ismaili Centre, Toronto. This is your chance to get a behind-the-scenes look at our production process, learn from our crew, hear fantastic music and, of course, hang out with some awesome people. To get involved for one, two, or as many performances as you like, email us here! (And don’t forget to tag/share with any friends who might be interested.)
“There are times when we might begin,” says AtG Music Director Christopher Mokrzewski, “and a few bar regulars, who may not have known this was going to happen, find themselves totally absorbed by the spectacle. Or they hate it and leave. Either outcome is okay, as far as I’m concerned.”
It’s a simple idea, and one that could be a fantastic introduction for an opera newcomer. In the familiar environment of a pub, with no oppressive silence or close-quarters seating, people can enjoy opera in short bursts. Listeners have a drink in hand, they can get up and leave whenever they want, and they’re essentially left wanting more. Opera truly is best consumed live, and it’s hard to get more real-life than in a cozy pub.
Ivany has seen the results for himself in Oslo, and more recently in Banff. “One of my most memorable Opera Pubs was hearing Caitlin Wood singing an aria from Giulio Cesare,” he says. “It was exciting, it was electric and the audience was cheering and clapping DURING the aria. It seemed that she was fueled by the energy and put it into each ornament. Was very cool.”