Tuesday, November 11, 2014

First-Person: Michael Hidetoshi Mori, Artistic Director of Tapestry Opera

Shout Out In Joy and Frustration!
by Michael Hidetoshi Mori

Michael Hidetoshi Mori of Tapestry Opera is both Canada’s youngest professional operatic Artistic Director and the only Asian-Canadian to ever hold such a role. Now in its 35th year, Tapestry produces contemporary and Canadian opera, filling a crucial and innovative niche in the country’s cultural landscape. With a history boasting over 15 major world premieres and 175 opera shorts premieres, the company regularly engages the nation’s best composers, writers and singers, including Judith Forst, Sally Dibblee, Krisztina Szabo and Ted Berg. It has also collaborated with esteemed ensembles and companies such as The Gryphon Trio, Edmonton Opera and Scottish Opera. 

These days it seems taboo to love publicly and be passionate about things of substance, unless that energy is expressed via social media for trending bursts of time. I want to change that. Shout out in joy or frustration; break something against a brick wall; sing and dance on impulse regardless of where you are…love or hate things with greater passion and less pragmatism!
We are the HBO of opera, with great writing and innovative techniques.

Opera gives us license to do this. It is emotionally big and cathartically engaging, offering us something that is rare in a world of instant gratification. Surprising yet familiar stories and music is Tapestry’s brand of evolving music theatre and opera. 

As a 33-year-old, Asian-Canadian, it is an interesting task to be the Artistic Director of a 35-year-old company in a genre that many people associate with affluence and European tradition. One prevailing public perception of opera is that it is good for you—like taking your vitamins or going to the dentist—but it’s more of a chore than a pleasure.  

So where does Tapestry fit? We are the HBO of opera, with great writing and innovative techniques, testing out pilots and launching fresh stories into the world (albeit with markedly less nudity). Tapestry commissions and develops works that play with style and craft, resulting in virtuosic and inspired performances that help the medium evolve. This is original opera. It is at times absurd and iconoclastic; romantic and tragic; wondrous and beautiful; dark and challenging. Our most exciting works involve supercharged emotion, telling high stakes stories of girls caught between a hyper-sexualized internet world and a culture of slut-shaming and cyber-bullying (BFFs 4VR), escape and recapture in the world of human trafficking (Oksana G.) and a classic heroine transposed into the modern Western world, whose attempt to assert her equal place leaves her with few but bold options (M’dea Undone).

Tapestry productions leapfrog expectations with provocative and innovative staging.

All three of these stories recently took shape in Tapestry’s annual crucible and opera lab (LIBLAB). Our upcoming production, Tapestry Briefs: Booster Shots—running from Nov. 13 to 16, 2014—features this year’s provocative offering of opera shorts, with storylines ranging from robots turning on their masters in a digitally remixed orchestration, to hipsters unsuccessfully trying to connect in person without using their phones, to the fight of two modern-day gay Russian men torn between serving the Motherland and escaping their own persecution. Tapestry productions leapfrog expectations with provocative and innovative staging. These shorts will come to life with audiences walking into different spaces throughout two buildings in the Distillery district. Palate-delighting tastes from Greg’s Ice Cream, Ontario Spring Water Sake Company, Steamwhistle, and Canadian Whisky, will help stimulate the mind as the audience members experience 10 distinct worlds from five writers and six composers, who have collectively won enough awards to firmly establish them as masters of their crafts. Join us to reclaim the pleasure of opera…shout out in cathartic release! Forget about the vitamins.

Tapestry Briefs: Booster Shots runs November 13 - 16

[Ed: Some changes have been made to this article]

1 comment:

  1. Absolutely fascinating article! Your Mother, Auntie Thelma, Uncle Jack, me and all the family are so proud of you Michael. I wish we were there to celebrate such an accomplishment. Love Auntie Vi xxxxooo


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