PREVIEW | Indie Opera: Toronto’s Opéra Queens Presents ‘Tanya’s Secret’

By Anya Wassenberg on August 17, 2022

L-R: Tenor Mike Fan aka Tanya Smania (Image courtesy of the artist); Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (Public domain image)
L-R: Tenor Mike Fan aka Tanya Smania (Image courtesy of the artist); Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (Public domain image)

Toronto indie opera company Opéra Queens will present their production of Tanya’s Secret on August 26 and 28.

Tanya’s Secret is an adaptation of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin through a queer-trans lens. Unable to reveal his true nature in the 19th century, it is now widely known that Tchaikovsky was gay. The Opéra Queens production will include the art songs of Ukrainian composer Mykola Lysenko, and will help raise funds for Kyiv Pride.

The cast has an international flavour, featuring Greek baritone Georgios Iatrou aka Nina Naï in the role of Eugene Onegin. Chinese-Canadian, queer, and gender non-binary tenor, actor, educator, and advocate Mike Zuming Fan plays the title role of Tatyana Larina as drag queen Tanya Smania. Other members of the majority queer-trans and IBPOC cast include Christina Yun and Alexander Cappellazzo as Lensky, American baritone Louise Floyd shares the role of Olga Larina with Ontario’s Corinne Dejong, and Gremin is sung by mezzos Marianne Bendig and Catharin Carew. Carew also switches over to sing the role of Madame Larina.

Directed by Bridget Ramzy, the performances will feature pianists Cecilia Nguyen Tran and Tina Faye. In rehearsals:

Founded in 2020 during the COVID pandemic, and based in Toronto and Montréal, Opéra Queens’ mandate is to present classical music through a queer lens of “full colour”, as the company puts it, incorporating majority queer-trans and IBPOC performers. Early concerts in Montréal sold out, leading to When Daylight Rises, a work created for Lucky Penny Opera.

Tanya’s Secret will be on stage at the Betty Oliphant Theatre in Toronto on August 26 and 28. Tickets here.

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