Audiences filled a Distillery District dance studio to watch this double-bill of phenomenal and rarely performed song cycles: Kurtág’s Kafka Fragments and Janáček’s The Diary of One Who Disappeared.

Sung in German and French, with English surtitles.

Photos courtesy of Darryl Block


March 1 & 2, 2013
The Extension Room
30 Eastern Avenue, Toronto


"With their latest production, this visionary little company continues to redefine the look and sound of performance in Toronto."

− Opera Going Toronto

Review: Kafka / Janáček / Kurtág | Opera Going Toronto
“With their latest production, this visionary little company continues to redefine the look and sound of performance in Toronto.”

Review: Kafka / Janáček / Kurtág | CharPo Canada
“They’re frown-worthy works, full of challenges, experiments and discomfort. Yet in the end they remain rewarding pieces that are given an elegant, minimalist production by a Toronto company that prides itself on being a ‘band of rogue arts makers’.”

Against the Grain does Kurtág and Janáček | Definitely the Opera
“Superb. They’re one of the few companies left in town that pair contemporary vocal music and smart low-budget staging in unusual locations.”

Review: Kafka / Janáček / Kurtág | barczablog
“I wish someone would record their remarkable performances so I could hear it all again.”

Kurtág and Janáček in the Extension Room | Opera Ramblings
“Against the Grain Theatre have another hit on their hands. Joel Ivany once again successfully combines young talent, unusual repertoire and a funky performance space to create a brilliant evening of song and story.”

An Evening of Kurtág and Janáček | Concerto.net
“An absorbing evening of musical drama in a non-traditional venue… The work amounts to a tour de force…”


Jaqueline Woodley

Jacqueline Woodley (Soprano)


Canadian soprano Jacqueline Woodley is rapidly gaining recognition for her fearless versatility and ability to change styles fluidly from early music to contemporary, art song to opera. Much in demand as an interpreter of modern compositions, she is perhaps best known for creating the role of Milice-Bride in the premiere and subsequent Canadian and European tours of Ana Sokolovic’s opera Svadba-Wedding. A graduate of McGill University and an alumna of the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio, she performed and covered several mainstage roles and was heard in the Ensemble performances as the “deliciously sexy” Papagena in Die Zauberflöte and Iris in Semele. This winter, she will portray Adele for Edmonton Opera’s Die Fledermaus.

Colin Ainsworth

Colin Ainsworth (Tenor)

Farmer Boy

Canadian tenor Colin Ainsworth has distinguished himself as an up and coming tenor by his exceptional singing and diverse repertoire. His many role have included the title roles in Orphée et Euridice, Pygmalion, Castor et Pollux , Roberto Devereux and Albert Herring; Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni, Tamino in Die Zauberflöte, Almaviva in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Ernesto in Don Pasquale, Rinnucio in Gianni Schicchi, Fenton in Falstaff, Tonio in La Fille du Régiment, Nadir in Les Pêcheurs de Perles, Pylades in Iphigénie en Tauride, Renaud in Lully’s Armide, Tom Rakewell in The Rake’s Progress, and Lysander in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Eugenia Dermentzis

Eugenia Dermentzis (Mezzo-soprano)


Praised for her supple and lustrous voice, Eugenia Dermentzis has been hailed as “… a mezzo-soprano to watch, clear of voice with a hearty sound in development.” (Opera Canada Summer 2011) Having recently graduated with a Masters of Music in Voice Literature and Performance at the University of Western Ontario, Eugenia has spent the past few years performing in and around Toronto, across Canada, and in Europe.

Lauren Segal

Lauren Segal (Soprano)

The Gypsy

South African-Canadian mezzo-soprano Lauren Segal is quickly establishing herself as a young singer to watch. Critics praise her tone for its “gleaming, luscious timbre” (La Scena Musicale) and her operatic interpretations as “absolutely sensational” (Paula Citron), “spectacular” (The Toronto Star) and “alluring, sexy, her voice rich in nuance” (Opera Magazine). She has sung with the Canadian Opera Company, Opera Hamilton, Manitoba Opera, Toronto Operetta Theatre, and more. She is a two-time recipient of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions Encouragement Awards.

Lesley Bouza

Lesley Bouza (Mezzo-soprano)


Lesley Emma Bouza is a graduate of The University of Guelph where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in music as a saxophone major. During her time at Guelph Lesley discovered singing and chose to pursue her post-graduate studies in voice at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff, Wales, where she earned her Artist Diploma. In the past few years her accomplishments have included competing in the Ricardo Zandonai Competition in Italy where she was the receipient of the Riva del Garda Festival Prize, winning the Classical Music Consort’s Handel Competition and touring Taiwan with the Swingle Singers. She has also been chosen as a laureate of the Jeunes Ambassadeurs Lyriques.

Sarah Halmarson

Sarah Halmarson (Soprano)


Soprano Sarah Halmarson recently performed the music of Bernstein, Porter, and Sondheim in American Salon: Syncopated City with Off Centre Music Salon in Toronto. Later this season, she will be making company debuts with Against the Grain Theatre (Kafka/Janáček/Kurtág), Thirteen Strings and the FestivalOpéra de Saint-Eustache. She will also perform throughout the season with the Theatre of Early Music. Last season, Sarah appeared with the Saskatoon Opera in Purcell’s King Arthur, performed Handel’s Messiah with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, and was a guest performer at the Cluster New Music Festival.

Creative Team

Joel Ivany

Joel Ivany

Stage Director

Joel Ivany is the founder and artistic director of AtG, and is the program director of The Banff Centre’s “Open Space: Opera in the 21st Century”. His directing credits include productions of Verdi’s Macbeth (Minnesota Opera), Carmen (Vancouver Opera), Les Contes d’Hoffmann (Edmonton Opera), Gavin Bryars’ Marilyn Forever (Adelaide Festival) and Le nozze di Figaro (Norwegian National Opera). He is the recent nominee of the Dora Award for Outstanding New Opera/Musical for AtG’s #UncleJohn and the recipient of the same prize for Figaro’s Wedding. His 2015/2016 engagements include mainstage directing debuts at the Canadian Opera Company (Carmen) and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (Mozart’s Requiem), the premiere of AtG’s A Little Too Cozy at The Banff Centre, and a revival of #UncleJohn at the Ottawa International Chamber Festival.

Christopher Mokrzewski

Christopher Mokrzewski

Music Director

Pianist, vocal coach and conductor Topher Mokrzewski is a steadily rising figure in the worlds of Canadian opera and chamber music. He was recently appointed Resident Conductor of Calgary Opera, and is the founding Music Director of AtG. A graduate of the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio, he is frequently sought as a soloist, collaborator and music director. His 2015/2016 season includes conducting Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado and Ravel’s L’enfant et les Sortilèges, and serving as assistant conductor for LakméDie tote Stadt and Die Zauberflöte with Calgary Opera. He also returns to the faculty of The Banff Centre’s “Open Space: Opera in the 21st Century” opera program this summer as Music Director of A Little Too Cozy, the latest instalment in AtG’s Mozart/Da Ponte trilogy adaptations.

Kerry Du Wors

Kerry DuWors


Canadian-born violinist Kerry DuWors has earned accolades for her “poise and maturity” and “spellbinding expression,” and has been praised for always finding “the music behind the notes” (Winnipeg Free Press). Winner of the 26th Eckhardt-Gramatté Competition, Ms. DuWors made a début Canada-wide recital tour with pianist Lydia Wong in 2003. Hailed as a “dynamic performer,” she has collaborated with internationally acclaimed soloists and chamber music ensembles including James Ehnes, Yo-Yo Ma, Isabel Bayrakdarian, Rena Sharon, Dame Evelyn Glennie, Angela Cheng, Denise Djokic, Martin Fröst, Marc-André Hamelin, Andrew Dawes, Scott St. John, the Lafayette, St. Lawrence and Penderecki Quartets, and the Gryphon Trio. She has studied and performed with Lorand Fenyves, Laurence Lesser, Charles Castleman, Bernadene Blaha, Krzysztof Penderecki, Elizabeth Wallfisch, Jeanne Lamon, Pamela Frank, Erika Raum, Gwen Thompson, Paul Katz, and the Ying Quartet.

Michael Gianfrancesco

Michael Gianfrancesco

Set and Costume Designer

Michael Gianfrancesco has designed productions for the Stratford Festival, Shaw Festival, National Ballet of Canada, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal, Opera Atelier, Canadian Opera Company, Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, Citadel Theatre, Young People’s Theatre, Canadian Stage Company, Tarragon Theatre, Queen of Puddings Music Theatre, and the Royal Conservatory of Music. He is a recipient of the Virginia and Myrtle Cooper Award in Costume Design from the Ontario Arts Foundation, and his set design for Cabaret at the Shaw Festival was selected to be a part of the 2015 Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space.