The one we’ve all been waiting for

unclejohnSo Toronto’s hottest indie opera company, Against the Grain Theatre, has finally announced a 14/15 season.  Not entirely unexpectedly they are bringing #UncleJohn; a transladaptation (©Lydia Perovic) of Mozart’s Don Giovanni to Toronto after it’s successful appearance in Banff this summer.  With a new English libretto by Joel Ivany, #UncleJohn will be staged at The Black Box Theatre at 1087 Queen St. West’s vintage rock venue, The Great Hall. .

The cast features baritone Cameron McPhail as Uncle John; bass-baritone Neil Craighead as Leporello; soprano Miriam Khalil as Elvira and soprano Betty Allison as Anna. Tenor Sean Clark is the hapless parking enforcement officer Ottavio; bass John Avey appears as Commander Michael Bridge; and baritone Aaron Durand and soprano Sharleen Joynt are Masetto and Zerlina.  Music direction will be in the hands of Miloš Repický who will direct the Ceilia quartet from the piano in a new piano quintet arrangement.

Five performances run from Dec. 11 to 19, 2014, with general admission tickets priced at $40.  I’d suggest buying soon as these will likely sell out quickly.

The  season continues in May 2015 with Death and Desire; a performance of Franz Schubert’s Die schöne Müllerin and Olivier Messiaen’s Harawi. The double-bill features  mezzo-soprano Krisztina Szabó and tenor Colin Ainsworth. Staged by Joel Ivany with Topher Mokrzewski at the piano, this is described as offering “an intimate and intriguing encounter with art song that leaves convention on the sidewalk and steams up the windows inside.”  Information about dates, venue and tickets has yet to be announced.

Next summer AtG will return to The Banff Centre for a follow up to last season’s pilot program entitled Open Space: Opera in the 21st Century, an initiative of The Banff Centre, Against the Grain Theatre and the Canadian Opera Company. The three organizations will reunite to offer an immersive, performance-based training program that takes opera off the stage and into the community. A brand new AtG “transladaptation” of Mozart’s Così fan tutte, re-titled A Little Too Cozy, will be at the heart of the program. Once again directed and translated by Joel with musical direction by Topher, the production completes the three-part Mozart series that AtG began with Figaro’s Wedding and continued with #UncleJohn. One hopes this too will be transladaptated to Toronto in due course.The program also undertakes a workshop of James Rolfe and Anna Chatterton’s new opera, Donna, an English-language re-imagining of Mozart’s Don Giovanni, commissioned by the Canadian Opera Company.

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