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THE SCOOP | Joel Ivany Named Artistic Director of Edmonton Opera

By Anya Wassenberg on November 18, 2021

Joel Ivany (Photo Kari Medig/Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity)
Joel Ivany (Photo Kari Medig/Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity)

Edmonton Opera’s Board of Directors has announced the appointment of Joel Ivany as Artistic Director. The announcement comes after a three-month search, following the retirement of general director Tim Yakimec.

Thomas Bradley, Board Chair for Edmonton Opera, remarked in a media release, “The entire team is excited for a new era of opera in Edmonton, and we feel that Joel is the perfect person to lead the company into the future as we emerge from the pandemic.”

Ivany moved to Edmonton during the summer, after the appointment of his wife, soprano Miriam Khalil, to the faculty of the voice program at the University of Alberta. He commented in a media release.

“Edmonton is very familiar to me and my family, and I’m incredibly excited and grateful to work at Edmonton Opera right here on Treaty 6 territory,” he said.

Ivany will continue to work with AtG as Artistic Director on current and future projects, including a production of Mozart’s Requiem with the COC.

A look at Joel Ivany’s meteoric career

Ivany graduated from the University of Western Ontario with a Bachelor’s of Music degree, followed by an Artist Diploma in Opera Directing from the UofT.

  • In 2010, he founded Against the Grain (AtG) Theatre, and remains its artistic director.
  • In 2011, he won Third Prize in the 6th European Opera Directing Competition.
  • He made his orchestral debut in 2016 with the TSO, and directed Carmen for the COC the same year.

Although he’s been on the Canadian opera scene for a scant decade, Ivany has been instrumental in changing the landscape for this revered and centuries old art. AtG has become renowned for bringing opera to bars and pubs, and other non-traditional venues, and reimagining the usual constraints of the art form.

  • His production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni became Uncle John, performed outdoors;
  • Così fan tutte became A Little Too Cozy, with the story refashioned into a reality television dating game show.
  • Ivany co-directed the internationally acclaimed and multi-award winning video Messiah/Complex, a 70-minute film that reimagined Handel’s holiday classic for 21st century Canada.

Ivany has directed over 50 operas across North America and Europe, and has adapted and translated more than ten. As a guest conductor, he has worked with Canadian Opera Company, Vancouver Opera, and Minnesota Opera, and previously worked with Edmonton Opera on an acclaimed production of The Tales of Hoffmann in 2013.

Joel shares his intention to continue his boundary-pushing innovations. “The last year and a half has shown us how opera is evolving and morphing into many other outlets. I’m hoping to embrace that change at Edmonton Opera while paying respect to where this art form came from. I think we’re going to embrace all that opera can be in the future.”

Edmonton Opera will be relaunching live performances with a production of La Bohème in February 2022.

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