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Against the Grain theatre founders to lead opera workshops, community outreach in Banff

By John Terauds on January 16, 2014

Stephen Hegedus in Against the Grain Theatre's Figaro's Wedding last summer.
Stephen Hegedus in Against the Grain Theatre’s Figaro’s Wedding last summer.

The residents of — and thousands of visitors to — Banff are going to see Mozart’s Don Giovanni in a new light this summer, thanks to a cross-country partnership featuring Toronto’s Against the Grain Theatre founders.

The Banff Centre, in collaboration with the Canadian Opera Company, announced on Thursday that Against the Grain Theatre founders Joel Ivany, who has assistant-directed several productions with the COC, and Christopher Morzewski will head up a series of workshops designed to reimagine Don Giovanni and then present this new version in community settings in the town of Banff.

“The Banff Centre has been involved in developing the next generation of opera stars for more than 50 years and this summer we introduce a new and innovative development model for artists with an eye to the future of opera in Canada and internationally,” said Carolyn Warren,vice president, arts at the Banff Centre, in a press release. “We’re thrilled to partner with Canadian Opera Company and Against the Grain, organizations that represent both foundation and experiment in this vital art form.”

Called Open Space: Opera in the 21st Century, the program will run July 6 through August 3. Guest instructors will include Canadian Opera Company General Director Alexander Neef, and COC Music Director Johannes Debus.

“Since its launch three years ago, Against the Grain Theatre has developed into one of the most exciting new opera initiatives in the country,” said Alexander Neef in the same release. “I’ve been watching the company grow, and am proud to play a role in fostering this extraordinary new generation of artists and producer.”

The eight-singer cast/workshop group will be chosen at auditions in Toronto and Vancouver.

At the end of the residency, artists will spend two days of concentrated sessions with Neef and Debus, and premiere Uncle John, an updated production of Don Giovanni set in Banff in 2014, with a new English libretto by Joel Ivany.

Ivany and Mokrzewski were the creative minds behind the reimagined Marriage of Figaro, presented as Figaro’s Wedding by Against the Grain Theatre in Toronto last summer.

John Terauds

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