All posts by Jonathan MacArthur

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Against the Grain Theatre goes CanCon for pivotal 9th season

By | Ayre, Bound, Kopernikus, Opera Pub, Press | No Comments

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 25 September 2018

AtG presents Handel revisited through a contemporary Canadian lens, and Kopernikus by Canadian composer Claude Vivier

TORONTO – Against the Grain Theatre (AtG) enters in its ninth season on the heels of receiving an astonishing 12 Dora Mavor Moore award nominations and taking home five awards, including Outstanding Production for Orphée⁺. Their ninth season will see the second workshop of BOUND, the launch of in-house record label AtG Records, and the presentation of Claude Vivier’s masterpiece Kopernikus. AtG’s “standing room only” #OperaPub series also returns for another season at the Amsterdam Bicycle Club; they present a free concert at the Canadian Opera Company’s Free Concert Series in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre under the title “AtG Retro”; and oh so much more.

BOUND was developed in December 2017 as a reaction to those displaced, dehumanized and mistreated in today’s world. AtG Artistic Director Joel Ivanyhas written original text and drawn from news articles and international current events as source inspiration for the story of BOUND. With the assistance of a commissioning grant from the Ontario Arts Council, AtG commissioned composer Kevin Lau to keep the backbone of Handel’s music while infusing his own contemporary themes, music and ideas. He says, “Expect to hear Handel like you’ve never heard it before. I see this opera as a hybrid—music created by Handel from the perspective of Lau (or will it be the other way around?).” The second instalment of this three-year concept-to-realization plan introduces a chamber orchestra led by AtG Music Director Topher Mokrzewski, and introduces digital sound artist Acote who adds his experience in techno music, and previous collaborations with AtG at Banff Centre to this workshop phase. The cast includes soprano Miriam Khalil, countertenor David Trudgen, tenor Andrew Haji, and baritone Justin Welsh.  This workshop will be presented in Longboat Hall at The Great Hall (1087 Queen Street West) on November 19, 20 and 21, 2018. All performances begin at 8pm with doors open at 7:30pm. Tickets (starting at $35) on sale Thursday, September 27 at 10am fromagainstthegraintheatre.com. 

On December 11, 2018, at 12pm, 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. “AtG Retro” will be a retrospective look back at some of AtG’s most acclaimed works from the past eight years.

After premiering at Banff Centre in 2017, Kopernikus “made for some supreme theatre” (The National Post) and was hailed by Opera Going Toronto as “utterly extraordinary.”  The opera’s Montréalais composer Claude Vivier(1948–1983) lived a hard and fast life; before he was found murdered in his hotel room in Paris at the age of 35, he had spent a career rejecting many traditional ideas of life, music and opera, which culminated in writing his only opera Kopernikus. “I think this could be Canada’s greatest opera ever written. Vivier was unique, he was an innovator and a true artist,” says stage director Joel Ivany. This production will uniquely immerse the orchestra into the choreography alongside singers and dancers. Matjash Mrozewskichoreographs, Leela Gilday acts as dramaturge, with Lighting and Set design by AtG Resident Designer Jason Hand. The cast features mezzo-soprano Danielle MacMillan making her AtG debut as Agni and welcomes acclaimed mezzo-soprano Krisztina Szabó, bass Alain Coulombe, baritone Dion Mazerolle and soprano Nathalie Paulin as part of the Ensemble. The production will be presented at Theatre Passe Muraille (16 Ryerson Avenue) on April 4, 5, 6, 11, 12 and 13, 2019 with all performances at 8pm and doors open at 7:30pm.

Back by popular demand, AtG’s standing room only #OperaPub series returns October 4 at the Amsterdam Bicycle Club (54 The Esplanade). Hosted and programmed 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 2 2018.

AtG will be undertaking many new initiatives this coming year, highlighted below:

Following the success of the inaugural Summer Intensive this past August (a workshop for singers at various stages of development addressing their immediate needs and goals) a Winter Intensive will take place in February 2019 as AtG continues to address the importance of training emerging opera singers for the 21st century music industry.

The AtG Incubator is a pilot program where artists may submit project applications on a rolling basis. AtG will assess projects based on merit and viability and then work with the artist to provide resources in a workshop capacity.

This season also marks the formation of AtG Records, a modern classical music-recording label. AtG Records first album release will be Ayre: Live a live recording from November 2016 of their acclaimed stage production, which prompted The Globe and Mail to call AtG Founding Member and soprano Miriam Khalil “…a mesmerizing, gorgeous presence in the piece.” Miriam Khalil has since performed Ayre, which has become her signature piece, in three countries and six different cities to great acclaim.  Composer Osvaldo Golijov writes: “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.”  The release of this first album will be this coming Fall.

AtG is now entering its final year as a participant in the Canadian Opera Company Academy, a home for Canada’s new wave of opera creators and an incubator for the future of the art form. The Academy’s Company-in-Residence stream is designed for independent companies looking to establish administrative stability and expand creative capacity. As AtG continues to grow, support through the COC Academy program has been a valuable lifeline of mentorship, collaboration, and shared learning.

ABOUT AtG
Toronto’s Against the Grain Theatre (AtG) has invigorated opera audiences since its first sold-out production to an audience of fifty guests in December of 2010. AtG revitalizes the operatic art form by presenting an eclectic array of musical works in unconventional spaces and innovative ways. Since its first season, AtG has consistently performed to standing room-only crowds, to both critical and public acclaim, and continues to introduce hundreds of new opera-goers to the art form. Founded by an adventurous collective of friends and artists, the company endeavours to be serious in intent and execution, yet fun and irreverent in spirit. Current members include Joel IvanyTopher MokrzewskiJonathan MacArthurAmanda HadiDavid EliakisJason HandMiriam KhalilMichaela Dickey.

For more information, please visit AtG online at www.againstthegraintheatre.com, on Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram @AtGTheatre and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AtGTheatre

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Media Contact

Jonathan MacArthur
General Manager
Against the Grain Theatre
416-220-5376
gm@againstthegraintheatre.com

Against the Grain Theatre Summer Intensive Miriam Khalil, Joel Ivany, Topher Mokzrewski, Photo: Darryl Block

AUDITION ANNOUNCEMENT

By | Auditions | No Comments

Back for it’s 9th season, Against the Grain is hosting auditions seeking artists (singers & instrumentalists) from our local scene for our upcoming projects.

We are hosting two days of auditions:

September 13, 1:00 pm to 6:00 pm – Singers Audition

September 15, 2:30 pm to 8:00 pm – Instrumental Auditions

September 15, 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm – **Recently Added Singer Auditions**

These auditions will take place in Mazzoleni Hall. AtG will have a pianist available for singers on September 13th and should you like to work with them please bring $30 cash for your collaborative accompanist (and a copy of your music). You may alternatively bring your own collaborator if you wish.

Instrumental auditions will be heard unaccompanied on September 15th. You may choose to bring your own collaborator and there will be a piano in the space. We would like to hear strings, clarinet, flute, trombone, trumpet and bassoon.

These auditions will be heard on a first come first serve basis. Singers on the 13th, and Instrumentalists on the 15th. We are auditioning for upcoming projects as priority. If you are free for either of the periods below, please consider signing up.

Project #1 – with a strong affinity to “Early Music”

November 2 and November 10, 2018

November 16 – 21, 2018

Project #2 – with a strong affinity to Contemporary Music

March 18 – April 14 2019

Click here to begin your application

Please bring a couple numbers that best showcase your abilities. We encourage singers and instrumentalists to bring Handel/baroque and New Music. Sign Up and please let us know what instrument(s) you’ll play for your audition and/or your voice type.

We strongly believe that diversity of all kinds contributes to a broader collective perspective and we warmly encourage applicants from the many diverse communities of Toronto to apply!

 

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New Sponsor for 2018/19 Season!

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

We’re very excited to announce that Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery is our newest sponsor for our 2018/19 season.

Be sure to stop by and celebrate with us.  We will be toasting at our Opera in the Garden event following our inaugural AtG Intensive, August 19, 2018 at 3pm EST.
After opening in 2009, it has been a whirlwind of ultimate experiences, from Weddings to Corporate Dinners to Food Truck Events and Niagara Icewine Programs. Concerts and Fashion Shows, they can now add Opera to their list.

 

Click on the following link for an introduction to this great Estate Winery: www.youtube.com/watch?v=zlN-NrDPH54

 

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Toi x 3 to Orphée⁺ in Banff!

By | Banff, Dora Awards, Joel Ivany, Orphee | No Comments

With the thrill of the 12 Dora Nominations, and the 5 wins (including Outstanding Production) still fresh in our minds, we’re sending out a huge TOI x 3 to the entire cast, creative team, crew, administrators, and volunteers at Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity on OPENING NIGHT of the production that was the highlight of Toronto’s opera season, Orphée⁺.

But enough with the sentimental formalities! Let’s get the real-time, late-night, post-prosecco Facebook reactions from the administrators and creatives behind this Toronto project…

Screen Shot 2018-07-12 at 1.35.08 PMJoel actually flew in the night of the awards ceremony, arriving to our nervous pre-cocktail event in a Spiderman tee-shirt fresh off the flight from Calgary. He brought a button up *just-in-case*.
Screen Shot 2018-07-12 at 1.34.35 PMWe’re not kidding about the late night Skype/Slack sessions… o_O
Screen Shot 2018-07-12 at 1.35.24 PMCommunity! Exactly the people you are surrounded by, who celebrate and cheer with you at every success and failure.

[First photo in post was taken at the Dora Award Ceremony – From Left-Right: Jonathan MacArthur, General Manager (AtG), Amanda Hadi, Editorial & Digital Manaer (AtG), Joel Ivany, Founder and Artistic Director (AtG), Peggy Kriha-Dye, General and Artistic Director (Opera Columbus)]

 

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 AtG wants you to join us in hell: Orphée⁺ 

By | Orphee, Press, Upcoming | No Comments

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 23 February, 2018

Against the Grain Theatre presents an electronic, baroque burlesque descent into hell

Against the Grain Theatre’s fervour for pushing the boundaries of opera and art continues this spring with a reinvention of Berlioz’s arrangement of Gluck’s baroque masterpiece Orphée et Eurydice. In an international co-production between AtG, the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, and Opera Columbus, the three companies are banding together to thrust a score written in 1762 into the 21st century. To complement the story in an unusual, beautiful way, Orphée⁺ will boldly blend an orchestra that mixes acoustic and electric instruments, feature baroque-burlesque dancers, and include a global virtual chorus.

While remaining true to the score, AtG presents the question, “How could Berlioz have updated Gluck’s opera if he had the tools of 2018?” In 1859, Berlioz revised  both Gluck’s Italian and French versions combining them into a new arrangement.  He stitched together a work that has since become standard repertoire of opera houses worldwide. This new co-production aims to go further by incorporating  an international cast of 100 virtual chorus members as the narrative voices Orphée⁺, and introducing a new orchestral arrangement that creates an atmospheric, electronic soundscape while maintaining the integrity of the original music.

“There is no battle between the baroque here,” director Joel Ivany says on the music for Orphée⁺. “Instead of changing the music, we’re using the score as the backbone for a new soundscape to complement our current environment. The intent is to discover something new and thrust a timeless story into a contemporary setting.”

Peggy Kriha Dye, Artistic Director of Opera Columbus says, “We are looking to innovate and transform the way that this spectacular opera — which was cutting-edge when it first premiered — is presented and experienced.”

In Orphée⁺, the hero is portrayed as a modern man who is grieving the death of his greatest love, Eurydice. We witness his traumatic journey, which takes him through the depths of sorrow to hell and back again in an attempt to bring back his lost love. His mourning is expressed traditionally through music, word, movement, and now technology.

The cast features Korean countertenor Siman Chung in the title role,Canadian soprano Mireille Asselin as his love Eurydice and American aerialist and soprano Marcy Richardson who will portray Amour, the inner conscience of our hero. A cast of dancers from NYC’s acclaimedCompany XIV (known for their annual burlesque Nutcracker Rouge) act as witnesses along Orphée’s journey.

Stage direction is by AtG Founder and Artistic Director Joel Ivany, theset and projection design by is by S. Katy Tucker, and will be lit by JAX MessengerOrphée⁺ is choreographed by Austin McCormick, Director and Choreographer of Company XIV in New York City, with costume design by Zane Pihlström. Featuring sound design by John Gzowskiand a reduced orchestra of eleven players which include electric guitarand synthesizer. This work is conducted by AtG’s Music Director and Founding Member, Topher Mokrzewski, and features members of the new AtG Ensemble: Brenna Hardy-Kavanagh, violin/viola and Brad Cherwin, clarinet.

Orphée⁺ is sung in French with English surtitles. Three performances take place at Fleck Dance Theatre, 207 Queens Quay West, third floor, onApril 26, 27, and 28 at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $40 – $110 and are available beginning Thursday, March 1 at 10 a.m. fromagainstthegraintheatre.comharbourfrontcentre.com and the Harbourfront Box Office.

LISTING INFORMATION
Against the Grain Theatre’s Orphée⁺
April 26, 27, and 28, 2018
8 p.m.
Fleck Dance Theatre, 207 Queens Quay West, Third Floor
Tickets: $40 – $110
More info: www.againstthegraintheatre.com

ABOUT AtG
Toronto’s Against the Grain Theatre (AtG) has invigorated opera audiences since its first sold-out production to an audience of fifty guests in December of 2010. AtG revitalizes the operatic art form by presenting an eclectic array of musical works in unconventional spaces and innovative ways. Since its first season, AtG has consistently performed to standing room-only crowds, to both critical and public acclaim, and continues to introduce hundreds of new opera-goers to the art form. Founded by an adventurous collective of friends and artists, the company endeavours to be serious in intent and execution, yet fun and irreverent in spirit. Current members include Joel IvanyTopher MokrzewskiJonathan MacArthurAmanda Hadi,David EliakisJason HandMiriam KhalilMichaela Dickey, Brenna Hardy-Kavanagh, and Brad Cherwin.

For more information, please visit AtG online atwww.againstthegraintheatre.com, on Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram@AtGTheatre and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AtGTheatre

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Media Contact

Toronto Inquiries:
Jonathan MacArthur
General Manager
Against the Grain Theatre
416-220-5376
gm@againstthegraintheatre.com

Photo: Marcy Richardson (Company XIV), by Corey Weaver

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A mash-up of Handel’s music with a new transladaptation

By | Behind the scenes, Bound, Joel Ivany, Media Release, Press | No Comments

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 31 October, 2017

BOUND uses baroque music to highlight stories of citizen displacement, fear, hope and reconciliation

TORONTO — This December, Against the Grain Theatre’s Artistic Director Joel Ivany matches one of opera’s most dramatic composers to a narrative inspired by the current, chilling refugee stories populating our newsfeeds: stories of migration and displacement due to war, discrimination, hate, and intolerance. The result is a newly created AtG “transladaptation” for the 21st century, BOUND, which will break down Handel arias and ensembles in form and text, and reconstruct them to highlight the current state of those displaced, dehumanized and mistreated across the globe.

“Handel was one of opera’s most dramatic composers,” says director Joel Ivany of the source inspiration for BOUND. “His music constantly explored stories of abandonment, neglect and betrayal. We aim to look at contemporary world events through his musical lens.”

To bring Handel’s music into the present, Ivany and AtG Founding Member and Music Director Topher Mokrzewski collaborate with recent Victor Martyn Lynch-Staunton Award winner, composer Kevin Lau, who will introduce new sound ideas and compositional devices. BOUND will be developed at the Canadian Opera Company’s Jackman Studio over multiple weeks of workshop sessions with finished presentations, featuring the piano accompaniment of Mokrzewski, that will showcase the intensive weeks of development. This is the first iteration of a three-year concept-to-realization production: each year, the workshop will focus on different aspects of operatic creation, from sets and costume design, to orchestral transcription. Over the next few seasons, BOUND will continue to develop, grow and return in new forms.

“We’re looking at how we as artists can express ourselves in a political capacity using our strengths, and our voice,” Ivany continued. “At a time where the world seems to be spinning away from hope and unity, BOUND will look to moments of beauty, acceptance and diversity. These are themes that are important now more than ever to iterate, proclaim and stand by.”

The premise: Seven citizens are detained by a government and held against their will in a waiting room; the audience will watch and hear about their struggles, hopes and fears. Drawing from the experiences of artists, and individuals the world over, BOUND will be a Handel mash-up for the ages.

The cast of BOUND features a roster of Canadian talent, including COC Ensemble member and soprano Danika Lorèn, recent DORA Award-winner and tenor Asitha Tennekoon, counter-tenor David Trudgen, baritoneJustin Welsh, bass Michael Uloth, mezzo-soprano Victoria Marshall and AtG Founding Member and soprano Miriam Khalil. This workshop will be lit by Resident Lighting Designer Jason Hand and presented in the COC’s Jackman Studio (227 Front Street East, Toronto) at 8 p.m. on December 14, 15, and at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. on December 16, 2017. With one night sold out, limited tickets ($35) are still available for the remaining three presentations: againstthegraintheatre.ticketleap.com/bound/

A special preview of BOUND will be offered on December 13, 2017 at 12 p.m. as part of the Free Concert Series in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. Details about the series may be found at coc.ca.

LISTING INFORMATION
Against the Grain Theatre’s BOUND
December 14, 15 at 8 p.m.
December 16 at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Doors open 30 minutes before curtain
COC’s Jackman Studio (227 Front Street East, Toronto)
Tickets: $35
More info: againstthegraintheatre.com/bound

ABOUT AtG
Toronto’s Against the Grain Theatre (AtG) has invigorated opera audiences since its first sold-out production to an audience of fifty guests in December of 2010. AtG revitalizes the operatic art form by presenting an eclectic array of musical works in unconventional spaces and innovative ways. Since its first season, AtG has consistently performed to standing room-only crowds, to both critical and public acclaim, and continues to introduce hundreds of new opera-goers to the art form. Founded by an adventurous collective of friends and artists, the company endeavours to be serious in intent and execution, yet fun and irreverent in spirit. Current members include Joel IvanyTopher MokrzewskiJonathan MacArthurAmanda Hadi,David EliakisJason HandMiriam Khalil, and Michaela Dickey.

For more information, please visit AtG online atwww.againstthegraintheatre.com, on Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram@AtGTheatre and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AtGTheatre

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Media contact:
Jonathan MacArthur
General Manager
Against the Grain Theatre
416-220-5376
media@againstthegraintheatre.com or gm@againstthegraintheatre.com

 

Design: Eitan Zohar | Illustration: Dmitry Bondarenko

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We need you to join our global virtual chorus!

By | Joel Ivany, Orphee, Uncategorized, Upcoming, Video, Volunteer | No Comments

Against the Grain Theatre, Opera Columbus in Columbus, Ohio, and Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity in Banff, Alberta are co-producing a brand new production of Gluck/Berlioz’s groundbreaking opera Orphée et Eurydice. At the time it was written, Orphée et Eurydice changed the way opera was produced and experienced; we hope to do the same with this daring interpretation. This production features a new electronic orchestration, baroque burlesque dancers, sopranos singing from silks and (hopefully) you, part of our Global Virtual Chorus.

This is where you come in.

We need you to record your voice to three excerpts from the opera. Submitted videos will be stitched together with hundreds of other videos and projected onto our set, and your voice will be mixed to sync with our LIVE Opera orchestra (cool, right?)!

NEXT STEPS:

  1. Watch the videos and practice (for sheet music, click here)
  2. Record your video(s)
  3. Submit them via Dropbox or WeTransfer to virtualchorus@operacolumbus.org
  4. Be amazed!

Watch the introduction video here and click-through to YouTube and become a part of the Global Virtual Chorus!

Q: When is the deadline for submissions?
A: January 15, 2018

Q: Where do I submit my video(s)?
A: You can submit them here.

Q: Can I submit a video for just one chorus section?
A: Yes!

Q: Will I get credit for my piece?
A: Yes! The programs of each performance will have the names listed inside

Q: Do I have to sing in French?
A: Yes – the entire production will be performed in French. If French isn’t a language you speak, you can learn the pronunciation from the Diction videos.

*Thank you for donating your time and submitting your virtual-chorus videos! By submitting these materials, you have read the following and agree to: allow the designers and creative team the use your image, voice, and likeness in all productions of Orphée et Eurydice. You acknowledge that your voluntary submission may be used entirely at and in the discretion of the producing companies. As a voluntary submission, you will not seek any compensation from the producers. Your submission is greatly valued, however, we may not use all submissions in the final project. Any persons with an Equity affiliation must have notified the producers before submission.

 

 

pelleaset melisande

New Upstairs Neighbours

By | AtG in the News, Behind the scenes, Canadian Opera Company | No Comments

There is nothing quite like last week’s season launch.  There’s cheek-kissing, and glass-raising, and a hall filled with tipsy opera fanatics.  Conversations are all abuzz with season suspicions and differing opinions.  And here we are, tucked up in the third ring listening for AtG’s introduction into the COC Company in Residence Program.  Cue the applause!

But what does this mean for AtG?

AtG is in a period of growth which many emerging opera organizations are faced with as they seek to reach a place of sustainability.  As our company grows, our talented administrative infrastructure must be strengthened and supported so that we can reach our full organizational potential.  AtG will be in what we are calling an incubation period as the COC Company in Residence.  As we nest with the COC, we continue to groom our organizational goals with the mentorship and resources of industry professionals at the COC.  And as we develop in this program, we are shaping the residency to be unique to us and our needs as an emerging opera company while operating independently and creating our own administrative guidelines.  We are bringing the company forward through innovative company relationships with the COC.

We now have designated headquarters on the fourth floor at 227 Front Street East, and our office almost overlooks the gazebo outback.  Sky Blue Sky Sandwich Company is just a simple e-order away and  Rooster Coffee is busy with opera’s rising stars sipping coffees and reading scores.  AtG should fit right in.

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