Against the Grain Theatre Opera Pub at Amsterdam Bicycle Club. Photo: Darryl Block

La Bohème 🍁 is SOLD OUT (for now)

By | La Boheme | No Comments

We have some news – great for us, but maybe sad for you: AtG’s La Bohème has completely sold out. And when I say “sold out,” I mean all of our tickets for our 8 performances — even for our new show date, May 31 — have gone like the wind. This was our earliest on-sale ever (a full 3.5 months ahead of the show date), and the fastest we have ever sold out the entire run of a show. We’re overwhelmed, gobsmacked and happy but also trying to figure out what that means for possible new fans of AtG who wanted to check out our hit show but maybe waited just a little too long to get their act together.

 

Stay tuned: We’ll have updates about whether we can offer additional seats/tickets as soon as possible.

In the meantime:

  1. Attend our free Opera Pubs. Running the first Thursday of every month, AtG Opera Pub nights are improvised, wild nights that offer up your favourite beer with a side of operatic arias and ensembles, performed by both established and emerging opera talent performed on our very own Craigslist piano. Free admission, $3.50 bottles of beer. Next event: 6 April 2017, at 9pm.
  2. Get tickets to our March 12 show: A concert of Viver and Schoenberg at TIFF Bell Lightbox. Tickets are $14 ($12 for TIFF Members) and include admission to a screening of Schoenberg’s unfinished opera Moses and Aaron.
Moses_et_Aaron_3_

Moses and Aaron with a Live Performance by AtG

By | AtG in the News, Upcoming | No Comments

BIG NEWS: We’re getting cinematic at TIFF Bell Lightbox. This March 12, we’ve partnered with TIFF to present a special live performance of an operatic work by Arnold Schoenberg ahead of their screening of Moses and Aaron by acclaimed filmmaker duo Jean-Marie Straub & Danièle Huillet. Featuring soprano Adanya Dunn with Topher Mokrzewski on piano. Limited seating, tickets in link below.

Sunday, March 12 at 3:15pm
TIFF Bell Lightbox
350 King Street West, Toronto

The first ever Toronto retrospective of one of the most important and influential filmmaking teams in cinema history, Not Reconciled: The Films of Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet runs March 3–April 2, 2017 at TIFF Bell Lightbox.

Presented in partnership with

tiff partner logo

Boheme_NikPix_516

La Bohème, Toronto-Style 🍁

By | La Boheme | No Comments

On sale Feb 1 at 10am
Running May 19–June 2

AtG’s La Bohème: Where an artist, a musician, a writer, a philosophy student and a not-so-happy landlord might cross paths in 2017 Toronto.

Everything about Puccini’s hyper-popular 1896 opera is relatable today: low-income artists and freelancers still haunt cafes, landlords will still “forget” to turn on the heat, and rent is still too damn high.

Pull a group of twentysomethings off the street on Bloor West — and that’s the cast of La Bohème.

In 2011, instead of trying to “bring new audiences to the opera house,” (and because we lacked an opera house entirely) we created a production that brought the opera to them—to the places our friends might hang out after work for a very, very cheap beer.

Our adaptation still kept Puccini’s characters and music, but we retold it for a contemporary audience, in English. And the story actually took place where folks were watching at the Tranzac Club: In Act I, Rodolfo and Marcello were sitting at shared tables with the audience. In Act II, the bar at the end of the room became the Café Momus.

This production, created on a shoestring budget by a handful of founding members, started our company. And it also began the tradition of convincing Music Director Topher Mokrzewski to become a one-man orchestra using an upright piano. (We think he’s OK with it now.)

So if you’re hungry for an updated #AtGBoheme with an entirely new cast, and want to see why Toronto is becoming one of the freshest destinations for opera, save the date:

At 10am on February 1, we start selling tickets to our 100-seat venue at the Tranzac Club.

We’ll see you at the bar.

13

RGD Jury names AtG’s creative identity “one of the top case studies in 2016”

By | AtG in the News, Design, Press | No Comments

We couldn’t be prouder to have a visual identity created by our friend Michael Barker at Acme Art and Design… The fact that it’s now an acclaimed case study is just icing on the cake. This month, an esteemed RGD jury selected Michael’s case study about our AtG rebrand as “one of the top case studies in 2016.”

Acme Art & Design captures the spirit of a unique cultural experience with visual identity for Against the Grain Theatre

A powerful graphic and clever visual device that tickles your brain and pulls you directly into the purpose of the client – clearly demonstrating what Against the Grain Theatre looks like and invites you to learn more.

—RGD

Click here to read the full article on the top case studies selected

Click here to read Michael’s case study about designing our visual identity

 

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.

unnamed

 

Against the Grain Theatre Opera Pub at Amsterdam Bicycle Club. Photo: Darryl Block

Opera Pub – Un-Valentine’s Day Edition

By | La Boheme, Opera Pub | No Comments

Join us! For a raucous un-Valentine’s Day evening
as we sing hits from Puccini’s LA BOHEME (and more)
because
Nothing says “romance” like watching young bohemian couples unable to pay their rent and slowly dying of tuberculosis.

Thursday, February 2 at 9pm
at The Amsterdam Bicycle Club
54 The Esplanade, Toronto, ON
Free admission

Tickets to our next show, a remount of our smash-hit La Bohème, go on sale February 1. You can get a preview of the production at this free Opera Pub.

About AtG’s Opera Pubs

“It can all get a little wild.”
againstthegraintheatre.com/opera-pub/

Running the first Thursday of every month, AtG Opera Pub nights are improvised, wild nights that offer up your favourite beer on tap with a side of operatic arias and ensembles, performed by both established and emerging opera talent. Free admission, $3.50 bottles of beer.

“[Opera Pub] has the feeling of an after party when musicians kick back, loosen up and playfully make music with their friends.” —Musical Toronto 

“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.” —Schmopera

Boheme_NikPix_124

Topher on going back to La Bohème in 2017

By | La Boheme | No Comments

In a few months, we’re presenting a fully-staged remount of our English “transladaptation” of the Puccini classic—which shifted the tale of struggling artists to the present day—and return to our first venue: the historic Tranzac Club in Toronto’s Annex.

There’s a certain aspect of nostalgia in going back to the show that put us on the map in the first place. It was the first thing we did that got this massive attention and it was a moment that defined the ethos of the company: staging classical music in unconventional spaces; and presenting certain operas in English, to make it a more direct experience.

But what’s neat about remounting it in 2017? We’ll be updating the staging, libretto and cast, and we’ll be bringing a new perspective. But it’s also about going back to the AtG basics: small venue, small orchestra (me and a piano), and an intimate, immersive experience for you. We’ll also have gained a lot more fans since we last staged this show, so it will be the first AtGBohème for new audience members who haven’t been with us since 2010. We’re really excited to share this with you.

 

Christopher Mokrzewski

Topher Mokrzewski
Music Director
Against the Grain Theatre

A Little Too Cozy

AtG tops the “Best of 2016” Lists

By | A Little Too Cozy, Ayre, The Rape of Lucretia | No Comments

We produced a handful of productions, both at home and in Banff and Ottawa, that we were really proud to see make year-end Best of Lists:

A Little Too Cozy: “A risk-taking production that soared to victory.”
—The Globe and Mail

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 Lucretia and A 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.”
—Musical Toronto

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.)

Against the Grain Theatre Ayre, starring Miriam Khalil. Photo: Darryl Block

We turned 6 in 2016 🎉

By | A Little Too Cozy, Ayre, Banff, Joel Ivany, La Boheme, Opera Pub, The Rape of Lucretia | No Comments

I never would have thought, six years after our first production, that Against the Grain Theatre would have the presence it does in the city, province and throughout Canada.

What drives this little company is the people that come together to make indie opera — our casts, crew, and volunteer staff. Our fuel is their passion.  I’m sure you’ve felt it.

You felt this passion whether you saw Toronto’s first Mozart opera staged as a live TV show: A Little Too Cozy at the CBC’s Studio 42.

Or if you went out to Banff to experience the thrilling, Hitchcockian Mozart Mashup Murder Mystery (No One’s Safe).

Or if you watched Britten’s haunting chamber opera The Rape of Lucretia, which we presented with the Toronto Summer Music Festival at the stunning Winter Garden Theatre.

Or if you were transfixed by three different performances of Osvaldo Golijov’s Ayre. Performances that, after the U.S. Election, reminded us why we make music in a city as diverse and supportive as Toronto.

Our new favourite event is Opera Pub, a monthly series we launched last October. Wild, improvised opera performances that give emerging singers a chance to flex their chops, surrounded by classical fans (and new fans in the making) in a friendly environment. That’s what AtG is about.

For all we’ve been able to achieve in 2016, we say thank you and wish you and yours the happiest holidays.