Category Archives: Behind the scenes

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

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

– 30 –

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

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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Jonathan Russell MacArthur

Meet our new Interim General Manager

By | AtG in the News, Behind the scenes | No Comments

Our fabulous General Manager Joanna Barrotta is taking some time away from AtG — as she’s making an exciting move to the Hammer! But we’re happy to announce that Jonathan MacArthur will be stepping in as Interim GM. You may have seen him both in performance and administrative roles around town: he was most recently the GM of FAWN Chamber Creative, and has worked with Tapestry Opera.  Please join us in welcoming Jon!

“I’m over the moon to be a member of AtG, and am ready to get my feet wet! This is an incredible opportunity for me as an arts administrator, and I am totally thrilled and honoured to call myself an Against the Grain-er. I look forward to being a part of one of Toronto’s hottest opera gangs, and can’t wait to bring Bohème back to this city’s devoted opera goers.”

Jonathan MacArthur is known as both a producer and performer in the Toronto arts scene. He is a Masters graduate of the University of Toronto Opera program, and has studied abroad at the Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory and the Saint-Petersburg State University in Russia. He is a passionate performer of the Baroque and New Music genres, and was an ensemble member of AtG’s Dora Award winning performance of AtG’s Messiah. Having worked closely with FAWN Chamber Creative, and Tapestry Opera, Jonathan adds another colourful feather to his Indie Opera TO hat as interim General Manager at AtG.

Rihab Chaieb as Dora in A Little Too Cozy

New Videos: The Season Finale trailer + Meet The Contestants

By | A Little Too Cozy, Behind the scenes, Video | No Comments

Tune in May 12 to 21 at 8pm for the season finale:

Below, meet the final four contestants who were (pretty keen) to get on A Little Too Cozy. You’re invited to join our studio audience for a live taping of “A Little Too Cozy,” where you’ll witness the final episode of the reality show that asks its contestants: “Can you fall in love with someone you’ve never met?” As the episode kicks off, Cozy‘s final four contestants — Dora, Elmo, Fernando and Felicity — have found their match but, as expected, there’s always a catch.

Fernando

Dora

Elmo

Felicity

Videos by @halfinchdfilms

Against the Grain Theatre’s “A Little Too Cozy” is a modern, English adaptation of Mozart’s “Così fan tutte” that presents the comedy of manners as a wedding reality TV show in CBC Toronto’s Studio 42. May 12—21, 2016. Tickets ($35—$95) at againstthegraintheatre.com