#UNCLEJOHN

  • Nominee — 2015 Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding New Opera/Musical
  • Nominee (Neil Craighead, Leporello) — 2015 Dora Mavor Moore Award for Best Male Performance, Opera Division
  • Nominee — 2015 Dora Mavor Moore Award for Best Ensemble, Opera Division

Director Joel Ivany’s English reimagining and 21st-century updating of Mozart’s Don Giovanni boasts an inventive new libretto and sold-out performances in Banff, Toronto and Ottawa, where the company made their Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival debut.

Acclaimed Toronto string ensemble The Cecilia Quartet provided accompaniment in a new piano quintet arrangement under the direction of guest Music Director Miloš Repický.

Sung in English. New English libretto by Joel Ivany.

Video by Roger Rousseau | Photos courtesy of Darryl Block

Dates

July 2014 at the Banff Centre for the Performing Arts
December 2014 at the Black Box Theatre, The Great Hall in Toronto
August 2015 at the Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival

Press

"Don Giovanni is frequently done ... But you won't find a version as funny or relevant as this one."

− NOW Magazine

"Uncle John, an outdoorsy reinterpretation of ‘Don Giovanni’ in Banff, shows there’s hope yet for opera."

− Macleans

Banff

Against the Grain Theatre reworks Mozart’s Don Giovanni to present imaginative #UncleJohn in Banff | Calgary Herald
“AtG has made it their mandate to exhibit works that show exclusive, tremendous, creative breadth and they have become one of the most important rising-star arts vehicles in this country.”

Banff transforms into opera set for #UncleJohn | Calgary Herald
“Instead of bouncing their beautiful sounds off of acoustically-calibrated ceilings, the company will bounce them off of Banff National Park.”

Opera with a modern twist | The Crag and Canyon
“When you think of an opera, you might think of singers who use words you may not understand and a story un-relatable nowadays — but that’s a stereotype Against the Grain Theatre is looking to break at Banff’s Cave & Basin.”

Opera comes down from the mountain | Macleans
“Uncle John, an outdoorsy reinterpretation of ‘Don Giovanni’ in Banff, shows there’s hope yet for opera.”

Ottawa

Swipe right: Don Giovanni gets update for age of Tinder | The Ottawa Citizen
“#UncleJohn is definitely worth a trending hashtag or two.”

Chamberfest: Joel Ivany reimagines opera with #UncleJohn | The Ottawa Citizen
“At 34, Joel Ivany is Canadian opera’s enfant not-so-terrible.”

Can’t miss concerts at this year’s Chamberfest: #UncleJohn | The Ottawa Citizen
“Toronto’s Against the Grain Theatre has picked up a bit of a reputation for putting a twist on familiar operas. This ATG production of Don Giovanni reimagines the world of the great rake for our social media age, hashtag and all.”

Toronto

Opera review: #UncleJohn | NOW Magazine
“Don Giovanni is frequently done; the Canadian Opera Company revives it next month. But you won’t find a version as funny or relevant as this one.”

#UncleJohn Review | Opera Going Toronto
“Against the Grain Theatre’s sleek, quintessentially 21st century production is timeless.”

Bringing Don Giovanni into the Social Media Age | Torontoist
“Elements of social media activity — collecting followers and curating a public persona — are central to Ivany’s depiction of a Giovanni for the 21st century.”

#UncleJohn brings a modern, triumphant twist to Don Giovanni | The Globe and Mail
“…There you are sitting in the grungy basement Black Box Theatre on Queen Street, with 80 other people sitting at 20 tables arranged for a mock wedding reception, and the power of art, of opera, of storytelling and of great music smack you in the face like a bracing wake-up call to the spirit

Cast

Cameron Mcphail

Cameron McPhail (Baritone)

Uncle John

Canadian baritone Cameron McPhail is a graduate of the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio, where he made his company debut as Premier Officer in Dialogues des Carmelites. He has since returned to COC with mainstage appearances as Schaunard (La Bohème), Guglielmo (Così fan tutte); along with covering Ned Keene (Peter Grimes), the Duke of Nottingham (Roberto Devereux) and Silvano (Un Ballo in Maschera). He has performed a variety of roles including both the title role and Masetto in Don Giovanni and the Count (Le Nozze di Figaro), the title role in Gianni Schicchi, Marcello (La Bohème), Mercutio (Roméo et Juliette), Escamillo (Carmen) and Ford (Falstaff). In 2014, he won the Canadian singer award at the George London Foundation Competition. Cameron makes three concert debuts this season with the both the Johnstown Symphony and The Florida Symphony in Carmina Burana and Handel’s Messiah with The Edmonton Symphony. This spring will take him to The Huntsville Symphony in Alabama for a world premiere staging of Gregory Vajda’s Georgia Bottoms as Rev. Colgate, as well as the role of John Worthing for Victor Davies’ Ernest, The Importance of Being with Toronto Operetta Theatre.

Neil Craighead

Neil Craighead (Bass-baritone)

Leporello

Neil Craighead is an alumnus of the Canadian Opera Company’s Ensemble Studio, where he appeared as Sciarrone in Tosca, the Usher in Rigoletto and Pinellino in Gianni Schicchi as well as understudying roles in Iphigenia in Tauris and Semele. Other COC credits include performances of Truffaldino in Ariadne auf Naxos, the Speaker in the Ensemble performance of Die Zauberflöte, the Oracle in Idomeneo, and a Japanese Envoy in the Robert Lepage production of The Nightingale and other Fables in Toronto and at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. In this, his fourth season with the COC Mr. Craighead appears as A Cappadocian in Salome, the Jailer in Dialogues des Carmelites, and Publio in the Ensemble Studio performance of La clemenza di Tito. Other operatic credits include Colline in La Bohème with Against the Grain Theatre, Leporello and Il Commendatore in Don Giovanni at the Centre for Opera Studies in Italy, Pistola in Falstaff and Dr. Furtwängler in the world premier of The Dream Healer with UBC Opera.

Miriam Khalil

Miriam Khalil (Soprano)

Elvira

One of Canada’s rising sopranos, Miriam Khalil is a founding member of AtG and an alumna of the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio. Her roles with AtG include Mimi (La Bohème), the Governess (The Turn of the Screw), Susanna (Figaro’s Wedding), Mélisande (Pelléas et Mélisande), and Elvira (#UncleJohn). Other credits include Almirena in Handel’s Rinaldo and Cleopatra in Giulio Cesare (Glyndebourne Festival Opera), Mimi in La Bohème (Opera Hamilton), Musetta in La Bohème (Edmonton Opera), Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro (Pacific Opera Victoria and Opera Lyra Ottawa), and various opera galas with The Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, Sudbury Symphony and L’Opéra de Montréal.

Betty Waynne Allison

Betty Waynne Allison (Soprano)

Anna

Soprano Betty Waynne Allison is becoming known to audiences as one who “combines it all — voice, acting ability, presence and beauty — in one highly impressive package” (Toronto Sun). Based in British Columbia, she is a graduate of the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio. Major credits include the world premiere of Mary’s Wedding with Pacific Opera Victoria; the title role in Floyd’s Susannah with Florentine Opera; Alice in Verdi’s Falstaff with L’Opéra-Théâtre de Metz Métropole; and Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus with Edmonton Opera. Early roles in the COC Ensemble included Fiordiligi (Così Fan Tutte); Donna Anna (Don Giovanni); and Turnspit (Rusalka). Betty has performed a versatile repertoire, demonstrating her natural ability and talent in roles ranging from the Countess (Le Nozze di Figaro) and Tatiana (Eugene Onegin) to Vixen (Cunning Little Vixen) and Elizabeth I (Gloriana). She is equally comfortable on the concert stage, with her rich and florid interpretation of pieces such as Symphony VIII by Mahler, Brahms’ Requiem and Gubaidulia’s Galgenlieder à 3. She has previously appeared with Against the Grain Theatre as Miss Jessel in The Turn of the Screw.

Sean Clarke

Sean Clark (Tenor)

Ottavio

Sean Clark is quickly becoming established as one Canada’s most promising young tenors. His operatic repertoire spans a broad range of roles, including Don Ottavio (Don Giovanni), Male Chorus (The Rape of Lucretia), Remendado (Carmen), King Kaspar (Amahl and the Night Visitors), Chevalier de la Force (Dialogues of the Carmelites), Lurcanio (Ariodante) and Alfred (Die Fledermaus). Sean sang the Canadian premiere of Doreen Rao’s new arrangement of Bernstein’s Mass and starred in Lance Horne’s one-man opera The Tell-Tale Heartat the Luminato Festival. The following summer he had the honour of taking part in Rufus Wainwright’s new opera Prima Donna, again with Luminato Festival. Continuing his focus on contemporary repertoire, this summer Sean was part of a select ensemble premiering Airline Icarus, a new opera by Brian Current for Soundstreams Canada, with a libretto by Anton Piatigorsky, directed by Tim Albery. Sean joined the Opera Lyra Ottawa Studio in September, singing the role of Tamino in its English-language production of The Magic Flute.

Sharleen Joynt

Sharleen Joynt (Soprano)

Zerlina

Silvery-voiced coloratura soprano Sharleen Joynt is known for her ability to spark audience enthusiasm with her special and unexpected amber timbre, a significant vocal range, her scintillating stage presence and her willingness to take risks. This season Sharleen will rejoin the Metropolitan Opera roster to cover Fiakermilli in Strauss’ Arabella. She will also appear with the Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe, Theater und Orchester Heidelberg, Theater St. Gallen in Switzerland, and make her French debut. Sharleen was an ensemble member of the Theater und Orchester Heidelberg for two years, where she performed Blonde (Die Entführung aus dem Serail), Soprano 1/Ariadne (Rihm’s Dionysos), Frasquita (Carmen) and her critically acclaimed Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos, the role for which she was nominated for Nachwunschsängerin (Young Singer of the Year) byOpernwelt magazine. Her uncommonly honest embodiment of characters and fearless onstage presence has also led to highly praised performances in roles such as Marie (La Fille du Régiment), Fausta in the German premiere of Scarlatti’s Marco Attilio Regolo, Oscar (Un ballo in maschera), Adele (Die Fledermaus) and Despina (Così fan tutte).

Aaron Durand

Aaron Durand (Baritone)

Masetto

An enthusiastic, coffee-loving baritone hailing from 100 Mile House, BC, Aaron Durand began singing lessons at the age of nine, but knew nothing of opera until a chance viewing of Carmen in Vancouver at age 16. Consumed by the wonderful music, Aaron tackled a bachelor’s degree in music followed by a master’s degree, both at UBC, where he performed as part of the celebrated UBC Opera Ensemble across Canada, China and eastern Europe. After graduating in 2012, Aaron joined Vancouver Opera’s Yulanda M. Faris program for its inaugural year, performing roles in several mainstage productions including La bohème, The Pirates of Penzance, Albert Herring and Don Giovanni. Most recently, he was seen as Le Dancaïre in Vancouver Opera’s Carmen, and Fiorello/Sergeant in Edmonton Opera’s Il barbiere di Siviglia. A new Torontonian, Aaron is delighted to be a part of #UncleJohn.

John Avey

John Avey (Bass-baritone)

Michael “The Commander” Bridge

John Avey is a respected member of Canada’s bass-baritone fraternity, whose repertoire encompasses major operatic and concert works. He has sung with all of Canada’s leading opera companies and its major orchestras in addition to performances across the United States and Europe. He made his Metropolitan Opera debut as Enrico in Lucia di Lammermoor, subsequently appearing there as Germont in Verdi’s La Traviata, a role he has sung with the opera companies of Arizona, Calgary, Montreal and Vancouver. Career highlights include Peneios in Richard Strauss’ Daphne with the New York City Opera, Rimsky-Korsakov’s Mozart and Salieri with the Vancouver and Calgary Symphonies and the title role of The Mikado in Brian Macdonald’s legendary production at the Stratford Festival and on tour. He has performed on CBC Radio in Vaughan Williams’ the Five Mystical Songs and Verdi’s Requiem. John also sang the world television premiere of The Spirit of Haida Gwai broadcast on CBC Television’s series Opening Night.

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.

Milos Repicky

Miloš Repický

Guest Music Director

Born in Bratislava, Slovakia and raised in France and Canada, pianist and conductor Miloš Repický is a member of the music staff of the Metropolitan Opera, where this season he prepares The Death of Klinghoffer and Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk. At the Kennedy Center, he conducts a reading of Tobin Stokes’ and Heather Raffo’s new opera,Fallujah. Other operatic engagements this season includeThe Cunning *Little Vixen with The Cleveland Orchestra,Kat’a Kabanova with the Spoleto Festival and Don Giovanniat the Castleton Festival. Recent credits include conducting Le Nozze di Figaro at the Juilliard School, completing a film score soundtrack for the feature filmThe Bohemians (an adaptation of Puccini’s La bohème) and music staff engagements for Tristan und Isolde at the Canadian Opera Company, La bohème for the Royal Opera House, Muscat, in Oman and La Fanciulla del West with the Orquestra Nacional de Galicia in Spain. As a pianist, Miloš collaborates with artists at premiere concert venues such as Alice Tully Hall, Weill Hall and the Chicago Cultural Center. He serves as guest faculty at the Juilliard School, Curtis Institute, Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music, the Chautauqua Institution and the Castleton Festival. He is artistic director of Music for Montauk, on the Eastern End of Long Island.

Cecilia Quartet

The Cecilia Quartet

Chamber Ensemble

Taking its name from St. Cecilia, the patron saint of music, the Cecilia String Quartet (CSQ) is an award-winning ensemble based in Toronto. Comprising Min-Jeong Koh, Sarah Nematallah, Caitlin Boyle and Rachel Desoer, the CSQ is currently in residence at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Music, a position that has been made possible by a generous gift from BMO Financial Group. European tours have taken the four musicians to the Concertgebouw Kleine Zaal (Amsterdam), Beethoven-Haus (Bonn), Wigmore Hall (London) and venues in Italy, Belgium, Canada and the United States. In 2010, the CSQ won First Prize at the Banff International String Quartet Competition. In addition to a regular performance schedule, the CSQ has a four-CD contract with ANALEKTA. The first recording of music by Dvořák was released in March, 2012. The second recording of music by Janáček, Berg, and Webern, entitled Amoroso, was released in spring of 2013. Min-Jeong Koh plays a ca. 1767 Joannes Baptista Guadagnini violin, and Sarah Nematallah plays the 1851 Jean Baptiste Vuillaume violin, both on loan from anonymous donors. Rachel Desoer recently won the use of the 1929 Carlo Giuseppe Oddone cello from the Canada Council for the Arts.

Patrick Du Wors

Patrick Du Wors

Set and Costume Designer

Patrick Du Wors is an award-winning performance designer working in the areas of set, costume and lighting design. In 2013 he was appointed to the faculty of the University of Calgary, School of Creative and Performing Arts. He is also the curator of the Canadian Exhibition at the 2015 Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design. His design credits include #UncleJohn (Banff Centre/Against the Grain (AtG)/Canadian Opera Company); Figaro’s Wedding (AtG); God of Carnage (Theatre Calgary);Falsettos (Acting Up Stage Co); Dead Man’s Cell Phone (Persephone); True West, My Fair Lady, Little Shop of Horrors, Fire, A Streetcar Named Desire,Death of a Salesman and As You Like It (Blue Bridge Rep);Metamorphoses (Globe Theatre, Regina); The Last Five Years (the Grand, London); Hush (Tarragon); Bird Brain (YPT, Toronto); Chasing the Moment(Arcola Theatre), London UK; and Turn of the Screw and A Number(Belfry). Patrick has also worked as an assistant designer for the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC); Complete Works Festival Season; Dirty Dancing & Cabaret, London West-End; Netherlands Opera; Norwegian National Opera and Royal Opera Covent Garden. Watch for Patrick’s next project, The Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst with Alberta Theatre Projects and Ghost River Theatre, opening in February, 2015.

Jason Hand

Jason Hand

Resident Lighting Designer

Jason “Legz” Hand is a Toronto-based lighting designer working in theatre and opera. He has designed at major opera houses in Ottawa, Toronto, Edmonton, Vancouver, and Minneapolis, and at theatres and festivals including Canadian Stage, Soulpepper, Shaw, Stratford, and Theatre Calgary. Beginning with the first Bohème in 2011, Jason has lit five of the AtG’s seven productions.

Autumn Coppaway

Autumn Coppaway

Company Production Manager

Nicknamed “The Hatchet”, Autumn Coppaway has fearlessly attacked neighbourhood trees in service of AtG’s scenic needs since 2014. Before joining the team as Company Production Manager, she worked as an assistant technical director for The Grand Theatre, production manager for Carousel Players, and technical supervisor for the Luminato Festival’s Hub.

Joanna Barrotta

Joanna Barrotta

Stage Manager

Joanna “Fly-Tape” Barrotta was the first General Manager for the SummerWorks Performance Festival and has over a decade of experience working in stage management for the Canadian Opera Company, Opera Atelier, Queen of Puddings Music Theatre, Tapestry New Opera, Canadian Stage, Tarragon Theatre and, most recently, on AtG’s ‪#‎UncleJohn‬. She likes bourbon and has two cats.

Amanda Smith

Amanda Smith

Assistant Director

Amanda Smith is an emerging Toronto-based stage director with a penchant for all things new. She exhibits this through her work as artistic director of FAWN Opera & New Music, for which she commissions, produces and directs operas and curates interdisciplinary new music events. Amanda recently directed a new production ofMiss Donnithorne’s Maggot by Peter Maxwell-Davies, presented by Opera Lyra Ottawa for 2014 Nuit Blanche Ottawa + Gatineau. She has assisted such directors as Joel Ivany, Michael Cavanagh, Michael Albano, Joshua Major, Graham Cozzubbo and Tim Albery, for whom she assisted on the Aldeburgh Music Festival production of Grimes on the Beach (Peter Grimes). Amanda’s upcoming productions include an improv-based opera in collaboration with Spectrum Music and the electronic music producer and DJ Gingy, as well as an electro-acoustic opera, L’Homme et le Ciel by Adam Scime.

Caitlyn Albanese

Caitlyn Albanese

Assistant Stage Manager

Caitlyn Albanese moved to Toronto in 2009 to study Performance Production at Ryerson University. Since graduating she has worked as a stage manager with the Lower Ossington Theatre. Credits include Seussical TYA, Spamalot, RENT, Little Shop of Horrors and Rocky Horror Show. Apprentice stage management credits include #UncleJohn (The Banff Centre/Against the Grain Theatre/COC),Forgiveness: A Theatrical Poem (Modern Times Stage Company) and Dance Masters 2013 (The Banff Centre). She is currently the Assistant Stage Manager/Metcalf Foundation Intern with Toronto Dance Theatre.

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