Category Archives: Orphee

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

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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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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.

 

 

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Against the Grain Theatre #GoForBaroque in 2017/2018 season

By | Bound, Canadian Opera Company, Joel Ivany, Kyrie Kristmanson, Media Release, Opera Pub, Orphee, Upcoming | No Comments

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 26 September, 2017

A Handel mash-up and an international co-production comprise AtG’s most expansive season to date

TORONTO – Against the Grain Theatre (AtG) returns in its eighth season with BOUND, a pastiche workshop of new interpretations of Handel’s music, and a groundbreaking new production of Berlioz’s arrangement of Gluck’s Orphée. AtG’s acclaimed #OperaPub nights return as a monthly fixture at the Amsterdam Bicycle Club, and the company collaborates with Canadian baroque-pop artist Kyrie Kristmanson at the Alliance Française in Toronto. In addition, AtG enters its second season as company-in-residence at the Canadian Opera Company (COC).

This December, Artistic Director Joel Ivany and Music Director Topher Mokrzewski collaborate with composer Kevin Lau, the recent Victor Martyn Lynch-Staunton Award winner, to bring Handel’s music into the present through a workshop titled BOUND. In the wake of the world’s refugee crisis, this workshop will explore the current state of those displaced, dehumanized and mistreated, with texts and stories drawn from real-life news articles and events. BOUND is the first workshop of a three-year concept-to-realization production. “Handel is 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.” Featuring a cast of young Canadian talent, BOUND will feature soprano Danika Lorèn, tenor Asitha Tennekoon, counter-tenor David Trudgen, baritone Justin Welsh, bass Michael Uloth, mezzo-soprano Victoria Marshall and AtG Founding Member and soprano Miriam Khalil. This workshop will be lit by AtG Resident Lighting Designer Jason Hand and presented in the COC’s Jackman Studio (227 Front Street East, Toronto) on December 14, 15, and 16, 2017. Tickets go on sale Thursday, October 5 at 12 p.m. at againstthegraintheatre.com.

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 www.coc.ca.

In Spring 2018, AtG partners with Opera Columbus to introduce a new, fully realized version of Berlioz/Gluck’s Orphée⁺. A brainchild of AtG Founder and Artistic Director Joel Ivany, Orphée⁺ casts dancers from New York City’s Company XIV, an opulent and intimate baroque burlesque dance company, with choreography by Austin McCormick, Director and Choreographer of Company XIV, and multi-faceted aerialist, pole dancer and soprano Marcy Richardson in the role of Amour. Sung in French, Orphée⁺ blends Berlioz/Glück’s music with new electro-acoustic soundscapes designed by John Gzowski; incorporates a virtual chorus — made up of hundreds of singers — in a digital projection created by set and projection designer Katy Tucker; costume design by Company XIV‘s Zane Pihlstrom; and features lighting by JAX Messenger. Joel Ivany serves as Stage Director and Topher Mokrzewski conducts an 11-piece orchestra, which blends classical and electronic string instruments. Orphée⁺ opens first in Columbus before coming to Toronto’s Fleck Dance Dance Theatre in April 2018. Full cast details and ticket information will be announced later this season.

Back by popular demand, AtG’s standing-room-only #OperaPub nights return October 5 at the Amsterdam Bicycle Club (54 The Esplanade, Toronto). Hosted by new AtG Collective member David Eliakis, these free events will continue to feature opera arias and ensembles alongside witty banter, craft beers and an ever-faithful Craigslist piano. Beginning at 9 p.m., the festivities will continue the first Thursday of every month until May 2018.

Also new this season, AtG collaborates with Canadian baroque-pop artist Kyrie Kristmanson for the Canadian release of her album Modern Ruin, a repertoire for voice and string quartet inspired by the lost songs of the women troubadours of medieval France. Led by stage director Amanda Smith, an AtG ensemble including percussionist Nathan Pettipas, dancer Mary-Dora Bloch, and baritone Adam Harris perform original arrangements for marimba and voice, inspired by French song. This event takes place on October 13 at 8 p.m. at the Théâtre de l’Alliance Française (24 Spadina Road).

In its second year as company-in-residence at the Canadian Opera Company (COC), AtG continues its work in the COC’s pilot program designed for independent companies looking to gain administrative expertise within their organization. “The training and mentorship opportunities are incredible,” praises AtG General Manager Jonathan MacArthur. “As an emerging administrator, receiving mentorship from the COC’s many different departments is an invaluable, one-of-a-kind experience that fosters individual leadership skills and applicable management practices required to grow a sustainable arts organization.”

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 Ivany, Topher Mokrzewski, Jonathan MacArthur, Amanda Hadi, David Eliakis, Jason Hand, Miriam 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
media@againstthegraintheatre.com or gm@againstthegraintheatre.com