Category Archives: Opera Pub

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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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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 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

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New Video! Opera Pub: Opus Pocus

By | Opera Pub, Upcoming, Video | No Comments

#OperaPub
Thursday, October 5, 2017
Amsterdam Bicycle Club
54 The Esplanade, Toronto, ON, M5E 1A6

The greatest event that the The Amsterdam Bicycle Club has ever seen, AtG’s Opera Pub returns for a sinister spooktacular “just in time” for Halloween* (*a full four weeks ahead of Halloween). Host David Eliakis is joined by our favourite operatic Disaster Artists (to be revealed) for a night of:

+ The Best (Haunting and Bewitching) Operatic Music of All Time
+ A special set of I PAGLIACCI devoted to the scariest thing we know: clowns
+ Cheap Pints! Raffle Prizes! Spaghetti!
+ More crazy things we can’t predict

About 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, discounted pitchers of beer.

AtG Artist Director Joel Ivany and Music Director Topher Mokrzewski chatted with Jenna Douglas at Schmopera about the idea behind Opera Pub.

Duration: Depending on how many performers sign up, Opera Pubs usually have four 15-minute sets. We take a break between each set to refresh our drinks and chat with the audience.

Video produced by Andy Martin-Smith; Cinematography: Issa Shah; Sound: Adam Laycock

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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

– 30 –

Media contact:
Jonathan MacArthur
General Manager
Against the Grain Theatre
416-220-5376
media@againstthegraintheatre.com or gm@againstthegraintheatre.com

 

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

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.

Against the Grain Theatre Opera Pub

Opera Pub returns November 3

By | Opera Pub | No Comments

We weren’t sure what to expect at our inaugural Opera Pub event. But last Thursday, more than 100 music fans, and friends (and a handful of folks who had no idea what they were in for) turned up at the Amsterdam Bicycle Club to hear some Friends of AtG Sing the Operatic Hits.

A huge thanks to performers Krisztina Szabó, Aaron Durand, Stephanie Tritchew, Clarence Frazer, Cait Wood and John Brancy, and maestro Topher Mokrzewski, who banged out the tunes on our newly-bought Craigslist piano.

“A packed house of opera enthusiasts were reminded of the joys of spontaneous music-making at Against the Grain Theatre’s first edition of Opera Pub, their new series of casual concerts where you can experience music in a different space with a beer in hand and not many rules…. It had the feeling of an after party when musicians kicked back, loosened up and playfully made music with their friends.”—Musical Toronto

“It was loud, it was fun and the audience, not all of whom I suspect knew what they were in for, stayed.”—Opera Ramblings

Opera Pubs run the first Thursday of every Month

The next event:
November 3, 2016 at 9pm
Amsterdam Bicycle Club
To sign up to sing, email toph@againstthegraintheatre.com
RSVP to our Facebook event

John Brancy with Topher Mokrzewski Opera Pub

John Brancy with Topher Mokrzewski

Impromptu waltz time with Caitlin Wood and Clarence Frazer Opera Pub

Impromptu waltz time with Caitlin Wood and Clarence Frazer

AtG Opera Pub at the Legion. Photo: Brent Callis

AtG Opera Pub nights at Amsterdam Bicycle Club

By | Opera Pub | No Comments

Happening the first Thursday of every month

Next events: October 13 & November 3 at 9pm
The Amsterdam Bicycle Club
54 The Esplanade, Toronto, ON, M5E 1A6

Want to perform at the next Opera Pub? Email toph@againstthegraintheatre.com

AtG Opera Pub nights are relaxed, casual nights out that offer up your favourite beer on tap with a side of operatic arias and ensembles, performed by both established and emerging opera talent.

Joel and Topher chatted with Jenna Douglas at Schmopera about the idea behind Opera Pub:

“There are times when we might begin,” says AtG Music Director Christopher Mokrzewski, “and a few bar regulars, who may not have known this was going to happen, find themselves totally absorbed by the spectacle. Or they hate it and leave. Either outcome is okay, as far as I’m concerned.”

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.

Ivany has seen the results for himself in Oslo, and more recently in Banff. “One of my most memorable Opera Pubs was hearing Caitlin Wood singing an aria from Giulio Cesare,” he says. “It was exciting, it was electric and the audience was cheering and clapping DURING the aria. It seemed that she was fueled by the energy and put it into each ornament. Was very cool.”

Read more here

Photo: Brent Calis