Music Director Topher Mokrzewski in rehearsal with Miriam Khalil for AtG's BOUND, photo Darryl Block

Just announced: Against the Grain Summer Intensive

By | Canadian Opera Company, Joel Ivany, Media Release, Summer Intensive, Upcoming | No Comments

“A professional and educational summer training program for today’s musician.”

This exclusive professional summer training program (running over August 13–19, 2018 in downtown Toronto, Canada) is tailor-made to individual singers’ needs.

This program lets you bring your best, your worst, your tired, your polished, (and the ones you won’t do for many many years, but want to look at it) into a space to work on the development of your craft. This intensive is meant for you to prioritize your individual artistic needs, in the middle of August when audition season is just around the corner. Bring us your Mozart. Bring us your weird. Bring us that random piece you really want on your audition package but it’s “just not coached enough”. Or, work on your upcoming roles for the 18-19 Season. We’re here to make this program uniquely yours, and we want to make sure you get what you need to set you up for success.

Guided by some of the core members from the Against the Grain Theatre Creative Team (Joel Ivany, Topher Mokrzewski and Miriam Khalil), applicants will be offered individual coaching, voice lessons, scene study, masterclasses, professional organization skills and a new headshot (optional).

Deadline to apply: Friday, May 25, 2018 at midnight EST. (Candidates will hear back from AtG by June 1.)

Cost: $500, with 50% deposit due June 15. (Remainder due July 15.) Payment can be made by e-transfer to info@againstthegraintheatre.com or in cash.

Location: 227 Front Street East, Toronto, ON, Canada, M5A 1E8

Questions? Contact info@againstthegraintheatre.com with “[Your Full Name] + Against the Grain Summer Intensive” in the subjectline and a real human will reply ASAP.

How to Apply: See below.

Photo: Darryl Block

Complete our Online Submissions form by Friday, May 25, 2018 at midnight EST.

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Your tickets to Orphée⁺ 🔥 What You Need to Know

By | Bound | No Comments

Your visit to The Underworld

Doors open at 7:30pm. Orphée⁺ begins at 8pm, and is under 2 hours long (including one 20-minute intermission). Please allow yourself time to pass through the gates of Hell (it’s a bit of labyrinth).

Tickets

This email is not your ticket. Your physical tickets will be available for pickup at the Venue Box Office the night of the performance. (Unless you ordered “Direct Mail” delivery, in which case tickets were shipped to your home. Don’t have them Don’t worry! Box Office will help.)

Venue Box Office (Fleck Dance Theatre)
Located on the same level as the theatre (see more below)
Opens 6pm each night — we recommend picking up tickets up to 30 minutes before showtime

All tickets are seating-assigned, and your physical ticket will have your seat number & section printed on it. This venue is wheelchair accessible.

At-the-door Tickets

Have a friend who wants to attend the performance because they heard it was a damned delight? Tickets are available for purchase at the Venue Box Office (cash/credit welcome).

Getting here

Fleck Dance Theatre (Third Floor)
207 Queens Quay West, Toronto, ON, M5J 1A7
Enter front building marked “207 Queens Quay”

Detailed map of venue

By Car

The closest on-site parking is the “P2” (York Quay Underground) lot. Evening rates: $18–24. More info here.

Accessibility

Pull up and stop for a direct drop-off if desired. This venue is wheelchair accessible; let us know in advance if you are arriving in an assisted mobility device.

Elevator access to the Theatre Box Office and Theatre Entrance (both on the third floor) is available from the main floor, at the south end of the building, directly opposite the Brookfield common cafeteria seating.

By Bike

Bike lock stands are located at the corners of the building. (Try the North end of the building, near the Sobey’s storefront.)

By TTC

Take the 510 Spadina or 509 Harbourfront streetcar; stop is “Queens Quay West at Harbourfront”

What to expect

Aerial artistry, burlesque dancers and a virtual choir of 100 singers from around the world and…

Drinks!

In keeping with the AtG spirit, The Fleck Dance Theatre is fully equipped with two bars (tap-only credit card and cash) right in our performance space (upper and lower level). Skip the lines, and place your intermission drink orders as soon as you arrive at the theatre: enjoy some wine, beer, spirits, non-alcoholic bevs and snaaaaacks.

Pre-show chats!

We know you have questions, and we thought we’d put stage director and AtG Artistic Director/Founder Joel Ivany in the hot seat. Head to the upper level/dance studio of the venue at 7:45pm.

Pasties!

Tonight’s performance features dancers from NYC’s Company XIV, a unique blend of circus, Baroque dance, ballet, opera, live music and lavish design.

Where to eat

207 Queens Quay “Terminal Building” may not sound exciting, but it boasts a bunch of hidden gem eateries and patios facing the waterfront, like the Goodman Pub & Kitchen and Joe Bird.

(There’s also a pharmacy, grocery store and barber inside the building if you’re looking to run some errands before the show. Just don’t forget to pick up the thing.)

 

What to read

This show is great, but don’t just take our word for it.

It’s an electronic, baroque, burlesque trip into hell and Marcy Richardson has a bird’s-eye view | Toronto Star

Why soprano Marcy Richardson—who sings, acts and dances in the air, without a safety apparatus—is used to looking down to see “jaws drop wide open” during her performances.

Why Orphée+ Might Be The Most “Authentic” Opera You’ll See All Year | Ludwig van Toronto

“A list of 4 reasons why AtG’s approach to Orphée et Eurydice continues a lineage of adaptation seen over the past 200 years…”

Culture Countdown: Orphée⁺ | Toronto Life

“It’s the most adventurous musical event of the month.”

Newfangled production of French opera a surprising success | Opera Columbus

“The show is a smashing success — an ideal instance of the old being made marvellously, yet thoughtfully, new.”

Soprano Mireille Asselin steps into baroque era to find strong women of opera | The Globe & Mail

“This will likely be the first time Orphée is performed with burlesque dancers, aerialists and electronic music.”

Orphée⁺ “How do we grieve in 2018?” | Schmopera

“Against the Grain Theatre’s spring production is upon us, and it boasts all the innovation and surprises for which the award-winning company is known.”

Eagerly anticipating Against the Grain’s Orphée next week | barczablog

A reviewer shares his anticipation.

Read our house program

 

 

Marcy Richardson

Orphée⁺ — An email conversation with Marcy Richardson

By | Behind the scenes, Orphee, Upcoming | No Comments

Curious about Orphée⁺ , our contemporary re-imagining of the Gluck baroque opera? Joel Ivany knows you, and our cast, have a lot of questions about our ambitious undertaking (electric instruments! baroque dancers! aerial artistry! a virtual global chorus!). So, Joel sparked an email conversation with New York-based classical soprano, aerialist and burlesque performer Marcy Richardson (aka @operagaga, of Company XIV), who will sing the role Amour airborne.

Orphée⁺ is a new AtG co-production with the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity and Opera Columbus.
April 26, 27, 28 at 8 p.m.
Fleck Dance Theatre
207 Queens Quay West, Toronto

Buy tickets ($42–$110) online at againstthegraintheatre.com/orphee, by phone (416-973-4000, press 1), or at the Harbourfront Box Office (no fees!).

 


FROM: JOEL IVANY
TO: MARCY RICHARDSON

Hi Marcy,

Hope all is well!

I just saw your performance at the Gala for Opera Columbus. You were singing, spinning and making it look so so so easy.

When you’re performing like this, does one ever take precedence over the other? Is it constantly switching?

You must have such control!

Joel

 


FROM: MARCY RICHARDSON
TO: JOEL IVANY

Hi Joel! Thank you! I’m so glad you enjoyed and were able to check it out!

Singing is always the most important. My priority is that if you close your eyes, it sounds just as perfect and beautiful as if I were just standing there. It is inevitable that sometimes you hear heavier breathing because of the physicality and I do have to breathe more frequently. But if the singing is not really beautiful, [the aerial performance] is just a gimmick and makes it look like you’re trying to distract or hide a flaw. Which defeats the purpose in my mind—I want the combination to elevate the singing and music and make it even more beautiful and transportive.

That being said, my voice teacher actually thinks my singing is the strongest when I’m in the air or inverted, because my core and lower support is so activated, and my head and neck even more free, so I am never concerned about the singing suffering at this point.

The key is really making any transitions between phrases so as not to bump the vocal line, or to know which transitions are possible to do in the middle of a line without disturbing it.

I do have a lot of control, yes! I am thankful for it of course—I started studying pole and acrobatics almost eight years ago, and the control comes over time like with dance or any other physical skill I guess! :)

M


FROM: JOEL IVANY
TO: MARCY RICHARDSON

May sound silly, but have you ever had a voice lesson in the air?

Or does your teacher come to performances?

Joel


FROM: MARCY RICHARDSON
TO: JOEL IVANY

My teacher has not come, no—it’s not so easy for her to come to stuff, especially if it’s further in Brooklyn. (Plus she is always insanely booked/busy!)

But she’s seen a zillion videos and we Snapchat videos from shows and lessons to one another—she actually thinks many vocal things she wants from me happen naturally in the air, so it wouldn’t be necessary.

M


FROM: JOEL IVANY
TO: MARCY RICHARDSON

I love that the freest singing can be done up there.

Have any other singers you know given it a try?

Do you miss being in the air when you sing in an opera where you’re just walking around? :)

Joel


FROM: MARCY RICHARDSON
TO: JOEL IVANY

There are some singers I’ve seen testing the waters in workshops, student showcases, etc., but I’m the only one doing it as pretty much my main profession—AND I’m the only one I know of equally adept at doing it on Lyra/hoop, silks, and acrobatic pole. It’s taken a lot of work to be performing at a professional level in all three, though hoop and pole are my favourite.

Of course I do lots of gigs where I’m just doing aerial work without singing, and gigs where I’m just singing without aerial work. With just an aerial gig, I’m able to enjoy the music (I’ll often perform improvising in the air with a live band/rock singer and love reacting to them with movement). I also love the stand-and-sing concert format as well or fully staged operas — at that point, it is all about the character or musicality. That’s beautiful in its own right. I think it would be boring to not have that variety!

M


FROM: JOEL IVANY
TO: MARCY RICHARDSON

Variety is key!

Is there anything you’re curious about in this production coming up?

Will it work? Do you think all the elements (virtual chorus, aerial and burlesque performance, digital orchestra, projections) are too much?

I’ve been telling people that the way we digest information has never been more overwhelming in terms of sheer volume. We enjoy stimulation and details subconsciously in a weird way, which still allows us to focus on the dominant voice.

Joel


FROM: MARCY RICHARDSON
TO: JOEL IVANY

As far as all the elements in Orphée—there’s never too much!

I’m actually most curious about Act 2 and the parts of Act 3 where my character [Amour] isn’t even involved. What does the underworld look like? How do the Company XIV dancers come to play in that space?

M


 
FROM: JOEL IVANY
TO: MARCY RICHARDSON

That’s what’s kind of cool.

In my mind, you don’t disappear in Acts 2 and 3. I see your character more as Orphée’s subconscious.

In Act 1, when he’s all alone and no one is around, you show up and speak to him.

For me, what he sees in Act 2 and 3 are manifestations of you.

We know in the opera he descends to the underworld to retrieve his lost lover, Eurydice. But in this production, in reality, he hasn’t even left his room (or forest spot)—rather it’s his subconsciousthat takes him on this journey.

Act 2 is everything missing in his life that he remembers as erotic, sensual, carnal; it’s one part of his love for Eurydice. And it’s something he won’t get back (from that one woman).

Act 3 is what he imagines to be the peaceful, the tranquil, the “better place” underworld. It’s a place so wonderful that even if we knew our lost loves still lived on there, we’d still want to pull them back. Because as humans we’re selfish beings.

Also love is a powerful thing.

Joel

 


FROM: MARCY RICHARDSON
TO: JOEL IVANY

Hmmm—so do you think love conquers all in the end, and that Eurydice is reunited with Orpheé in real life, or was it all somewhat of a dream brought on by his subconscious?

In any case, love IS a powerful thing. I think it’s easy to look at Amour as a character and interpret her (or him) as something cute or childlike, when in reality, amour or “love” is strong and powerful. I hope to bring, quite literally, strength to the character/Orpheé’s subconscious, and can really see “love” being the powerful driving force that takes him on this journey.

M


FROM: JOEL IVANY
TO: MARCY RICHARDSON

Yes.

And not just on this journey of the opera, but past the opera… and for us all.

It’s universal.

I don’t think Eurydice comes back to life in the end.

It’s all a learning/coping mechanism of Orphée’s, simply because no one tells us how to grieve.

We experience it. We can’t know what it’s like until it arrives.

And you, Marcy, are a main main main part of this story.

Can’t wait!

Joel

***

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

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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

– 30 –
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

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

“Opera Pub brings this most secret of pleasures to astonished newcomers”

By | AtG in the News, Opera Pub, Press, Upcoming | No Comments

Looks like Toronto’s best-kept secret is out… The Globe and Mail secretly attended our last free Opera Pub and gave us two pints up 

Next event: Feb 1, 9pm at the The Amsterdam Bicycle Club

"Full-scale opera is daunting to attend largely because of the cost of it. Making it free and intimate is showing to ever-larger groups of astonished newcomers how thrilling it is to hear a beautiful trained voice singing a famous work of art. Ventures like these, as they pop up around the world, are the best way of publicizing this most secret of pleasures."

− The Globe and Mail

"The audience – lots of bearded youth mixed in with the white heads – is not typical for opera. Quite a few hands went up when asked who had never seen an opera before."

− The Globe and Mail

Miriam Khalil in Bound, photo Darryl Block for Against the Grain Theatre

Opera in the age of Trumpism: An interview with Lebanese-Canadian soprano Miriam Khalil

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

FROM THE CANADIAN OPERA COMPANY’S

ISSUE 3 of NOTES

A Conversation with 

SOPRANO MIRIAM KHALIL


As part of their work in the COC’s Company-in-Residence program, Against the Grain Theatre has been developing a new opera. BOUND  takes Handel arias and ensembles, reconstructs them through a new interpretation by composer Kevin Lau, and layers the music against new English-language texts drawn from real-life world events. In the leadup to tonight’s opening, we asked Founding AtG member and Ensemble Studio graduate Miriam Khalil to share her thoughts on the challenging process of creating art that responds to contemporary realities of persecution, oppression, and asylum.

n BOUND each artist’s performance is informed by a real-life story in the news. What’s the background of the character you portray?

My character is based in part on Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, a Muslim-American journalist who was detained upon her arrival at an airport in France and forced to remove her hijab under threat of deportation.

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How are the singers being tasked with developing these characters?

The past couple of weeks have been spent in challenging discussions about the real-life stories that serve as the launching pad for our characters, but we’ve also been bringing them out of the documentary realm into interpretation and characterization. It is a true collective endeavour, in that all of us are researching our characters deeply and then bringing that back to the rest of the creative team for continued exchange and collaborative dialogue. It’s a powerful process that builds a kind of shared reserve of empathy and nuance that we can draw on to get closer to these realities.


I understand you’ve also been having lots of conversations with subject matter experts in refugee and immigration law, trans rights, and marginalized and underrepresented people as part of the project. What’s that been like?

Alia Rosenstock, a Toronto-based immigration and refugee lawyer, explained the basics of Canada’s refugee system. We learned about some aspects of a refugee’s experience that we wouldn’t ordinarily encounter, including the hardships people are willing to endure to escape to Canada and some of the obstacles they face upon arrival.

Many refugees are illegally detained and tortured in their countries of origin, only to be detained again, once they’ve arrived in countries where they’re seeking asylum, including the USA and Canada.

Some are detained for long stretches of time, while their files are being processed. The effects of long-term detention can be devastating to an individual’s mental health and on the family members who rely on them, including children.

With Rania Younes, a representative from the Canadian Arab Institute, we talked about the hijab, women’s rights in Canada, and Islam. For her personally, wearing the hijab remains a form of self-empowerment.

But there are also prejudices that affect so many aspects of daily life for a hijab-wearing woman in today’s political climate, from obstacles to full participation in the public sector, to feelings of invisibility to being treated with hostility.

Of course we could only absorb a small amount of what she goes through, but it was sobering to begin understanding what it takes simply to practice the freedom that our country guarantees.

I’m really in awe of each and every one of our special guests for their openness, generosity, and curiosity. For my colleagues and me this whole project is about much more than just an opera production—it’s about an expanding scope for empathy and inclusion that we can carry with us as artists and human beings.

Detail of BOUND poster, designed by Eitan Zohar, illustration by Dmitry Bondarenko

Detail of BOUND poster, designed by Eitan Zohar,
illustration by Dmitry Bondarenko

Your family immigrated to Canada in the 1990s. The lived experience of people of colour in this country is often at odds with the way Canada likes to present itself as an almost utopian post-national state. What was your experience growing up here?

My immigration to Canada was mostly positive. I was bullied for a time, but I don’t know if that had anything to do with race. I attended a small school and I was the new girl that didn’t speak the language (my first language was Arabic).

First Canadian school photo, courtesy of Miriam Khalil

First Canadian school photo, courtesy of Miriam Khalil

My parents and older brothers had much bigger struggles and were much more alert to the pressures of assimilation. My father worked odd jobs for the first year and eventually bought a restaurant (Italian, of course), where he and my brothers worked until my father’s retirement. My brothers each pursued their own career path while helping at the restaurant and are all business owners now.

My parents worked really hard to build a life for us in Canada. My mother was a stay-at-home mom in Damascus, but when we moved to Canada she learned English, learned how to drive, and took Early Childhood Education courses. She became a licensed caregiver and eventually ran a home daycare after years of working in the Ottawa School Board.

First summer in Ottawa: Miriam’s mother Taghrid (standing in the middle) surrounded by her children Nabil and Wassim (also standing) and Miriam and Maher (crouching in front). Photo courtesy of Miriam Khalil.

First summer in Ottawa: Miriam’s mother Taghrid (standing in the middle) surrounded by her children Nabil and Wassim (also standing) and Miriam and Maher (crouching in front). Photo courtesy of Miriam Khalil.

 

In a big way, we were very lucky because we had family in Ottawa and there is a large Lebanese/Arab community that welcomed us from the beginning. I remember being amazed at the amount of family we finally had in one place.


Tell me about the Handel aria you sing.

“Ah! mio cor, schernito sei,” from Alcina.

It has an introduction of dissonant chords finding resolution and clashing again in a heartbeat-like pulse. It’s very contemporary sounding for its time and is really quite moving.

The B section moves faster and suggests a growing strength, as the character moves to anger and determination, collapsing again into the A section which restates its emotions quite beautifully to find resolution in a tone of sadness.

Music Director Topher Mokrzewski in rehearsal with Miriam Khalil for AtG's BOUND, photo Darryl Block

Music Director Topher Mokrzewski in rehearsal with Miriam Khalil for AtG’s BOUND, photo Darryl Block

 

Why is a Baroque composer like Handel being used to tell these stories?

Handel’s music covers such a wide range of emotions and is so beautiful in its purity. His music breathes and can seem bare at times, which makes it so vulnerable and human and so apt in exploring the emotional journeys of the oppressed.

And then composer Kevin Lau—who has been with us since day one, immersed in our conversations, etc.—will actually orchestrate and manipulate Handel’s music with electronic amplification to create new juxtapositions for future workshops.

“At a time when the world seems to be spinning away from hope and unity, BOUND will look to moments of beauty, acceptance, and diversity.” —AtG Director Joel Ivany. Photo Darryl Block

“At a time when the world seems to be spinning away from hope and unity, BOUND will look to moments of beauty, acceptance, and diversity.” —AtG Director Joel Ivany. Photo Darryl Block.

 

What happens when you bring Baroque music into contact with stories that have a contemporary sense of cultural and political urgency?

Most of Handel’s operas deal with the big themes: war, love, hate, and death. Baroque music can be incredibly moving because it takes on these essential concerns with emotional honesty and musical simplicity. Within that basic vocabulary, however, Handel develops these intricate relationships with dissonance and resolution, which pull the music forward into emotional waves and gestures that seem perfectly matched for our own political and cultural upheavals.

 

What role does art play in the age of Trumpism?

That’s one of the big discussions we’ve been having throughout the rehearsal process: “Can art really make a difference?” I don’t have an answer to that.

I can say that this week has been incredibly transformative for me. We talked about issues related to the Travel Ban on Muslim countries, human rights violations, our right to privacy, and the freedom to wear what we want. As artists I think we’re all so fortunate to be in a creative community in which we can take a week to discuss and debate the injustice that we see on our newsfeeds and meaningfully apply those conversations, those breakthrough moments, to our work.

The depth of these discussions has left me restless and curious.

In the age of Trumpism, it is so easy to feel helpless and voiceless. The blatant disregard of a very specific set of individuals and the lack of care for their well-being is disheartening. However, in discussion with these open-hearted artists, I find myself hopeful and excited by what art can do to create change in our times.

We have it in us to create a higher sense of awareness of the bigger issues and to lay down a foundation of empathy for “the other.”

Miriam Khalil is a Lebanese-Canadian soprano performing in Against the Grain Theatre’s Handel mash-up BOUND, running December 14–16 at the COC’s Culture Hub, 227 Front St. E. in Toronto. Rush tickets ($35 cash only) are available at the door for each performance. Thank you to the Canadian Opera Company and Nikita Gourski for sharing this Issue of NOTES. AtG is proud to be the inaugural Company-in-Residence of the Canadian Opera Company.

BOUND.Website-Red-Header2

Your tickets to BOUND 🍁 What You Need to Know

By | Bound | No Comments

Your visit to The State

Doors open at 7pm. BOUND begins at 8pm, and is approximately 1.5 hours (no intermission). Please allow yourself time to pass through border security.

Tickets

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”.)

If you can’t find your tickets, we can scan you in by first & last name. Bring a government-issued ID.

All tickets are general admission and seating is available on a first-come, first-seated basis. If you have a ticket, you are guaranteed a seat. This venue is wheelchair accessible.

At-the-door Tickets

Have a friend who wants to attend the performance? Are they a legitimate traveller to The State or citizen? Rush Tickets (seated or standing room) are available at the door. Line up for these as early as 7pm. $35 cash only.

Getting here

COC’s Hal Jackman Studio
227 Front St E, Toronto, ON, M5A 1E8
Entrance “Imperial Oil Theatre” near Berkeley St

By Car

There is no on-site parking, but there is limited street parking in front of the building. The closest GREEN P lot is on Berkeley Street.

Accessibility

Pull up and stop for a direct drop-off if desired. This venue is wheelchair accessible; let us know in advance if you are arriving in an assisted mobility device.

By Bike

Bike locks available at the corner of Front and Berkeley streets.

By TTC

Take the King streetcar, or Sherbourne bus, and then a short walk down to Front Street.

What to expect: Border Security

Together, we can help keep our community safe.

Targeting

The Targeting Program identifies people and goods bound for The State that may pose a threat to the security and safety of The State.

Immersive pre-screening experience

Please bring a pen. The Advance Passenger Information Form (Q4 questionnaire) is used to identify high-risk travellers who may need further screening when they arrive in The State.

Liquids

Liquids are permitted in The State; wine and beer may be purchased ($5, cash only) at one of the government-sanctioned dispensaries located in our Border Security Checkpoint and Waiting Rooms.

What to read: Propaganda

Not fake-news.

Opera plucked from today’s public-safety issues | Toronto Star

“Each person has done something to threaten Peace, Order and Good Government. In a series of spoken dialogues and sung arias, we discover who they are and what the charges are.”

Why AtG’s New Mash-up Opera Will Surpass All Your Expectations | Ludwig van Toronto

“I for one am very excited to see where this show might lead and what other “protests” it might inspire.”

“A Shocking, Immediate Connection” | Schmopera

“‘All the characters who are involved are fighting for a right of some kind,’ says Mokrzewski. ‘They’re fighting for rights that have been taken away.'”

Read our house program

 

 

martha burns

Just announced: Screen and stage legend Martha Burns joins BOUND cast

By | Behind the scenes, Bound, Canadian Opera Company, Media Release, Upcoming | No Comments

Gemini, Genie and Dora Award—winning actor Martha Burns joins the cast of BOUND (Dec 14–16, 2017). In this groundbreaking, dystopian production featuring reconstructed music by Handel, she plays the role of The State.

Martha Burns has performed leading roles at the Stratford and Shaw Festivals and at theatres across the country. A founding member of Soulpepper Theatre, she developed their youth mentorship and Soulpepper in School programs. She is a double Gemini winner (Best Actress in a Leading Role, Slings and Arrows), the recipient of two Best Supporting Actress Genie Awards (Long Day’s Journey Into Night and Love and Savagery), two Dora Mavor Moore Awards (Trafford Tanzi and The Miracle Worker), and the winner of the 2005 Barbara Hamilton Award for Excellence and Professionalism in the Performing Arts. With actor/writer Susan Coyne, Burns wrote and directed the TIFF’08 short, How Are You?, and produced and directed the documentary Robin, Mark and Richard III. She has served on the boards of Canadian Stage, the Shaw Festival, Peggy Baker Dance Projects and the Toronto Council for the Arts, and most recently worked with performers from Nunavut’s Qaggiavuut society to create the play Kiviuq Returns. She currently teaches acting at the National Theatre School.

BOUND.Website-Header2

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