There’s been a lot of new opera in Toronto at the moment and a lot of it has had either an Indigenous or a Queer angle; likely reflecting funding bodies trying to encourage diversity of various types. The latest one to come my way is Pomegranate which will play at Buddies in Bad Times from June 5th to 9th. It’s a lesbian chamber opera from librettist Amanda Hale and composer Kye Marshall and it’s a first opera for both of them.
It’s an intriguing plot, inspired by a visit by Amanda to Pompeii in 2014. Suli and Cassia become lovers during the Dionysian Mysteries in Pompeii in 79CE and then that eruption thing happens. They are reincarnated to meet in a lesbian bar in 1980s Toronto. Neither time/place is especially welcoming to lesbians. How can the powers of love and memory reunite them?
There’s a good looking young cast; Camille Rogers and Rebecca Grey as the lovers with Teiya Kasahara, Stephanie Tritchew and Aaron Durand. Michael Mori directs. The music sounds intriguing with two different moods for the two different periods; “fairly modal” for Pompeii and a mix of 80s inspired idioms for the later setting. It’s scored for three cellos, flute, oboe, harp and electric piano which is certainly not a line up I’ve seen before.
I asked Amanda and Kye who the target audience is and the answer was “everyone”. It sounds like it’s a pretty accessible piece and the timing is right coming just after a Gay and Lesbian Business Summit, the Inside Out gay film festival and with Pride coming up. It will be interesting to see how far it draws in the conventional opera audience and also whether it reaches that younger Queer crowd that the creators of Dido and Belinda were after.
More details here.