All posts by Jonathan MacArthur

Stunning new interpretation of Golijov’s Ayre launches Against The Grain Records

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“A perfect and tremendously satisfying example of cultural transcendence”  –The Globe and Mail

Golijov’s Haunting Song Cycle Ayre Receives Powerful New Interpretation by Soprano Miriam Khalil

Live Recording to Launch Against The Grain Records Label on December 7

TORONTO, Canada – November 7, 2018 – Against The Grain Theatre, Toronto’s visionary chamber opera company, is known for electric performances that act as “a bracing wake-up call to the spirit” (The Globe and Mail). That daring candor is now being channeled via its new in-house recording label, which launches with a live recording of Osvaldo Golijov’s “ecstatically beautiful…radical and disorienting” song cycle Ayre this December (The New Yorker).

Informed by the composer’s personal history as a Romanian Jew born in Argentina, Ayre blends traditional and electronic instruments with elements of Byzantine chant, Sephardic lullabies, Sardinian protest songs, and Arabic, Hebrew, and Christian texts. Praised by Gramophone as “an intoxicating, endlessly haunting mixture of styles and musical cultures,” the technically exacting song cycle has become a signature piece for AtG Founding Member Miriam Khalil.

Khalil, a Lebanese Christian raised in Damascus, Syria, until her family immigrated to Canada, was immediately drawn to the eclectic textures and melodies of Ayre.

“When I first heard Ayre, I was mesmerized. I recognized two of the pieces as songs I had sung since childhood – songs my mother and father taught me,” said Khalil. “With all the anti-Arab propaganda on the news, it was very moving to hear holy music from Arabic culture framed so beautifully, enveloped with real respect by Hebrew and Christian traditions.”

To those distressed by endless media reports highlighting the rise of nationalistic movements across the globe, Ayre’s reverence for seemingly conflicting cultures can act as an injection of hope. It offers us a glimpse of shared humanity – of the ties we can more easily perceive through music, poetry, and common experience. As The Globe and Mail has recognized, Ayre is “an evening of power and resonance, the kind of which deep memories are made.”

The composer, a 2003 MacArthur Fellow, believes that Ayre’s resonance is heightened by Khalil’s performance – including her ability to deliver the texts in their original Arabic, rather than in English translation.

“No one owns this piece in the way that Miriam Khalil does,” said Golijov. “It is as if she was born to sing it.”

Critics from Ottawa to Buenos Aires have praised Khalil’s interpretation of Ayre as a powerful and visceral reminder that humanity has the capacity to transcend the cultural barriers that seem to accost us daily. Golijov’s conscious weaving of linguistic and musical threads represents a more accepting form of cultural pluralism, where historically competing traditions can coexist, complementing each other more beautifully than an assimilated society might anticipate.

According to Against the Grain Founder and Artistic Director Joel Ivany, the preservation of such transformative works was a major motivator in the establishment of the theatre’s in-house label. “At AtG, we have made it our mandate to create fresh and daring experiences for our audiences – and with this new facet of our work, we’re now able to capture and share moments of our acclaimed limited production runs.”

“Against the Grain is thrilled to be able to share the immediacy and emotion of this live performance, recorded at the breathtaking Ismaili Center in Toronto, with a broader audience,” he said. “Ayre is an extraordinary and unforgettable adventure.”

In this video, Lebanese-Canadian soprano Miriam Khalil and director Joel Ivany explore the cultural threads of Osvaldo Golijov’s beguiling song cycle Ayre.

About Miriam Khalil

One of Canada’s acclaimed singers, Lebanese-Canadian soprano Miriam Khalil is lauded as a “skilled, versatile artist” whose “signature warm lyrical voice” makes “her fine soprano express every emotion with exactness and feeling.” An alumna of the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio, she won first place in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions (Great Lakes Region) and subsequently appeared in the 2007 documentary The Audition. Her performance credits include Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Canadian Opera Company, Minnesota Opera, Opera Tampa, Fargo-Moorhead Opera, Opera Hamilton, Against the Grain Theatre (AtG), Edmonton Opera, Pacific Opera Victoria, Opera Lyra Ottawa, and prominent orchestras across Canada, in roles such as Mimì (La bohème), Mélisande (Pelléas et Mélisande), Governess (The Turn of the Screw), Susanna (Le nozze di Figaro), Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni), Cleopatra (Giulio Cesare), Almirena (Rinaldo), and the title role in Alcina. Ms. Khalil’s 2018/19 season includes appearances as Mimì in La bohème with the Canadian Opera Company, Marzelline in Fidelio at Pacific Opera Victoria, Eurydice in Orphée at the Banff Centre for the Arts, and Noor Haddad in AtG’s Handel mash-up BOUND.

About Osvaldo Golijov

Osvaldo Golijov is a composer who blends classical forms with the rhythms and melodies of other genres to create a concert experience that resonates deeply with contemporary audiences. Drawing on diverse musical and literary traditions (from tango and klezmer to the poems of Emily Dickinson and Pablo Neruda), Golijov’s compositions exhibit a fresh, powerful style. Among Osvaldo Golijov’s best known works are the St Mark Passion; the opera Ainadamar; a cello concerto, Azul, and the song cycle Ayre. He has also written soundtracks for films by Francis Ford Coppola (Tetro, Youth Without Youth), and arranged music from many places in the world, primarily for the Kronos Quartet. He is currently working on Falling Out of Time, a song cycle for the Silk Road Ensemble, based on a book by David Grossman. He was born in Argentina in 1960, lived in Jerusalem in his youth, and moved to Massachusetts in 1991, where he is the Loyola Professor of Music at the College of the Holy Cross.

Images by Darryl Block

Press Contact: Beth Stewart

Verismo Communications

Tel: 618.444.3183 | Email: beth@verismocommunications.com

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AtG Goes North

By | Joel Ivany, Opera Pub, Press, Uncategorized, Upcoming | No Comments

In a dynamic new partnership with the Yukon Arts Centre, AtG reaches further north than ever before in “Life, Love and Drinking Alone: the artist’s guide to smashing your phone”

This November, Against the Grain Theatre’s Founder and Artistic Director Joel Ivany, Music Director Topher Mokrzewski and baritone Andrew Love (who we last loved as Marcello in AtG’s La bohème) travel to Whitehorse and Dawson City, Yukon. “The Yukon Arts Centre is thrilled to announce a new partnership with Against The Grain Theatre to bring its fiery, irreverent approach to opera to Canada’s North.” says Yukon Arts Centre’s CEO Casey Prescott.

This exciting new program will feature a staged Kurt Weill song recital titled “Life, Love and Drinking Alone: the artist’s guide to smashing your phone”.

Join Sam as he both celebrates and grieves at the end of a relationship. From bar to bar, drink to drink, lounge to floor to gutter, he works through what went wrong, facebook stalks, falls down the infamous instagram rabbit hole, reminisces, and dismisses… all while maintaining his greatest relationship of all… with his true love… his smartphone.
This cabaret features music from Opera to Musical Theatre, Pop to Country, (to maybe even rap), with a special emphasis given to the brilliant music of Kurt Weill. Lead from the piano by Topher Mokrzewski (bartender), this cabaret has been conceived, staged and will be performed by baritone Andrew Love (Sam).

Produced by Against the Grain Theatre and the Yukon Arts Centre.

The tour will also include community workshops, talks and roundtables.

Events Listing
7:00 PM Thursday, November 29
At the Old Fire Hall, Whitehorse, Yukon
8:00 PM Friday, November 30
At KIAC Ballroom, Dawson City, Yukon

About the Yukon Arts Centre
The Yukon Arts Centre (YAC) is a not for profit charitable organization dedicated to the development of the arts as an important cultural, social and economic force in the Yukon. We intend to be a model for the development of the arts in the North and a stimulus for a vibrant and creative territory. YAC is the territory’s premier venue for performing and visual arts.

About the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture
The Klondike Institute of Art and Culture is of one of the many volunteer driven not-for-profit initiatives that are vital to the social, cultural and economic health of Dawson City. The Klondike Visitors Association plans activities and events that attract thousands of visitors to Dawson City each year. The Dawson City Music Festival is legendary for its ability to present Canada’s finest musical talent to the community both at the July festival, and at concerts during the year. Other organizations such as the Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre, Dawson Museum Society, and CFYT Radio add to Dawson’s rich cultural milieu, which is somewhat unexpected in a small northern town that’s only a few hours drive from the Arctic Circle.

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What does opera in the age of Trumpism look like? #AtGBOUND

By | Bound, Joel Ivany, Press, Upcoming | No Comments

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 18 October, 2018

Kevin Lau’s newly commissioned opera BOUND v. 2 in concert performance with Toronto’s acclaimed indie opera company Against the Grain Theatre

TORONTO – Against the Grain Theatre (AtG) has matched one of opera’s most dramatic composers, George Frideric Handel, 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. AtG’s Artistic Director and librettist Joel Ivany alongside composer Kevin Lau begin the indie-company’s ninth season by digging deeper into the music and text of BOUND. This November, AtG presents their first commissioned opera written by Toronto composer Kevin Lau in a concert presentation called BOUND v. 2. November’s concert (part-two of a three-year concept-to-realization project) focuses on where Lau’s new composition intersects with the melodies of Handel’s music. A mash-up of centuries, styles, and stories.
 
“Bringing Handel’s music into the 21st century is a way for us to directly grapple with the big issues of tradition versus change that face our society today,” said Lau. The development of BOUND began as a mash up of Handel arias and ensembles used to highlight the current state of those dehumanized and mistreated across the globe. “Our opera does delve into darker themes—among them, the ethical consequences of trading individual freedoms for national security, an issue which grows more relevant every day—but ultimately our hope is to sow musical seeds of empathy, by finding truth among differences.” 
 
AtG Founder and Artistic Director Joel Ivany has created a new English libretto, minting another AtG transladaptation to express the plight of the characters—who are based on real people—in BOUND v. 2. The opera centres around four citizens who are detained by an omnipotent and oppressive government; the State.  We watch and hear about their struggles, hopes and fears.
 
The development of this opera began in 2017: a week of inspired round-table discussions with Ivany, Lau, creative team and artists where they invited guest speakers that included survivors, storytellers, and members of communities that are too often overlooked to share their stories. “We asked them very personal and important questions,” said Miriam Khalil who portrays Noor Haddad, a journalist detained for refusing to remove her hijab at a border crossing. In her role, for example, Khalil balances between baroque flourishes and maqamat embellishments, “with Kevin, we explored how these unique experiences would colour our music and shape our characters.” With teeming collaboration, the singers eventually chose the news stories that best suited them and from those stories Ivany formed the base of the new libretto, which was then to be meshed with Handel’s music while Lau worked on his score and developed a new musical language for each character.
 
Kevin Lau’s BOUND v. 2 is written for chamber orchestra, four singers, actor and digital sound artist. The ensemble will be led by AtG music director Topher Mokrzewksi and features AtG Founding Member and soprano Miriam Khalil, countertenor David Trudgen, tenor Andrew Haji and baritone Justin Welsh as the cast of detainees, Martha Burns as the voice of the state, and the electronic stylings of Acote.
 
This workshop concert will be presented in Longboat Hall at The Great Hall (1087 Queen Street West, Toronto, Ontario, M6J 1H3) on November 19, 20 and 21, 2018. Sung in English. All performances begin at 8pm with doors open at 7:30pm. Tickets ranging from $35 – $80 are now on sale at www.againstthegraintheatre.com

LISTING INFORMATION
Bound v. 2
Against the Grain Theatre  
November 19, 20, and 21
8 p.m.
The Great Hall — Longboat Hall, 1087 Queen Street West, Toronto, Ontario, M6J 1H3
Tickets: $35 – $80
More info: www.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 HadiDavid EliakisJason HandMiriam Khalil, and Michaela 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

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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!

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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.