Thursday, October 2, 2014

News: (Toronto) Against The Grain announces fifth season (Press release)

For its fifth season, Against the Grain Theatre brings #UncleJohn to Toronto and gets A Little Too Cozy in Banff

Against the Grain Theatre (AtG), is entering its fifth season this year...can you believe it?!  We're celebrating our birthday with a whole lot of exciting stuff.

After workshopping #UncleJohn last summer at The Banff Centre under the direction of AtG artistic director Joel Ivany and music director Christopher "Topher" Mokrzewski, we're bringing our Mozart “transladaptation” home to Toronto audiences this December. A modern interpretation of
Don Giovanni with a new English libretto by Joel,#UncleJohn is happening in The Black Box Theatre at 1087 Queen St. West’s famed vintage rock venue, The Great Hall. Five performances run fromDec. 11 to 19, 2014, with general admission tickets priced at $40.

Our exciting cast features baritone Cameron McPhailas the philandering Uncle John; bass-baritone Neil Craighead as his trusty wingman Leporello; sopranoMiriam Khalil as a spurned but conflicted Elvira and soprano Betty Allison as the bereaved Anna. TenorSean 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, the engaged couple whose impending wedding is getting complicated by Uncle John’s drama.

The creative team behind AtG’s 2013 Dora Award-winning Figaro’s Wedding is reunited with Joeldirecting, lighting design by Jason Hand and set and costume design by Patrick Du Wors. We're delighted to announce that the production will be joined by The Cecilia Quartet in a new piano quintet arrangement, led by guest music director Miloš Repický (who is Topher's unofficial "big brother"'re in good hands!)

We encourage you to buy your tickets early, since we have a nasty habit of selling out our shows! This one is going to be hot. For all the details, visit our website.

AtG’s birthday season continues in May, 2015 with something dark and sexy: Death and Desire, a performance of Franz Schubert’s Die schöne Müllerinand Olivier Messiaen’s Harawi. The double-bill features two of Canada’s most engaging interpreters of art song: mezzo-soprano Krisztina Szabó and tenor Colin Ainsworth. Staged by Joel withTopher at the piano, the innovative production offers an intimate and intriguing encounter with art song that leaves convention on the sidewalk and steams up the windows inside. More information about dates, venue and tickets will be announced at a later date.

The celebration year is capped off with AtG’s return toThe Banff Centre, following the success of last summer’s groundbreaking pilot program entitledOpen Space: Opera in the 21st Century, an initiative of The Banff Centre, Against the Grain Theatre and the Canadian Opera Company. The three organizations reunite in partnership to offer the one-of-a-kind, 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 Weddingand continued with #UncleJohn. 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.

Five years of AtG

Ever wonder how it all began?  Well...

In December of 2010, Toronto’s opera scene received a jolt of energy with the formation of Against the Grain Theatre (AtG), a visionary young start-up founded by a group of friends who worked in the opera “biz”. Inspired by a goal of reinvigorating the art form by presenting classical repertoire in unconventional spaces and innovative ways, AtG staged its first performance to a sold-out audience of 50 people, and with that the company was off and running.

Since that first season, AtG has packed every single one of its productions with standing room-only crowds, winning a consistent level of critical acclaim that has even surprised its own members. Maclean’shas referred to us as “the most successful of the indies,” and the Calgary Herald called us "one of the most important opera companies in Canada." Our 2013 production of Figaro’s Wedding received seven Dora Mavor Moore Award nominations, winning the award for Best New Musical/Opera. The arts community has embraced the AtG gang, and—equally importantly—so has a much wider, more diverse audience of people who may have never considered attending an opera.

In addition to its fearless leaders Joel and Toph, the AtG collective comprises Caitlin CoullMiriam KhalilNina DraganićCecily CarverAllison Bentand Nikki Tremblay. The company’s success is thanks in no small part to an army of dedicated volunteers who have breathed life into every AtG venture to date.

For more information, please visit the AtG gang, on Twitter@AtGTheatre and on Facebook

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