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PREVIEW | Opera 5’s Web Series Threepenny Submarine Combines Opera, Puppets & Animation

By Anya Wassenberg on October 31, 2023

Stills from Threepenny Submarine (Images courtesy of Opera 5)
Stills from Threepenny Submarine (Images courtesy of Opera 5)

Season one of Opera 5’s web series Threepenny Submarine launches online on November 1, 2023. In each short (8 to 12 minutes) episode of the children’s opera, cute fuzzy puppets explore an underwater world with locales like the Salieri Sector, and their underwater adventures are accompanied by the strains of classical music and opera scores.

The score includes operatic gems from Korngold to Wagner and Mozart to the works of 19th century British composer/suffragette Dame Ethel Smyth and Louise Farrenc.

The final two episodes include newly commissioned pieces by Canadian composers Cecilia Livingston and Ryan Trew.

Threepenny Submarine

The whimsical children’s opera is a co-production with Gazelle Automations, and it’s the first full season for the series.

Viewers will follow Iona the cockatiel and Lydian the vixen on a mission below the surface of the ocean in the Threepenny Submarine. After hearing a mysterious sound, the mission goes awry, but the detour leads to unexpected adventures.

It stars singers Caitlin Wood, soprano, Rachel Krehm, soprano, Adanya Dunn, mezzo-soprano, Scott Rumble, tenor and Clarence Frazer, baritone. Voice actor Melody Schaal is the narrator. Justin T. Lee and Lindsay Lee are voice actors and puppeteers, and co-producers as the team behind Gazelle Automations.

Music by Verdi, Wagner and other opera luminaries is performed by musicians from the TSO, Hamilton Philharmonic, Kingston Symphony, and Musicians of the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony.

The series can be streamed free on the web, with a goal of introducing children to the gorgeous sounds and dynamic storytelling of opera.

“Threepenny Submarine represents three years worth of work through the pandemic,” says Artistic Director Jessica Derventzis in a statement, “and we are so proud of the series. Opera 5 has always believed in the accessibility of opera through its power as a tool for storytelling. Threepenny Submarine features amazing music which amplifies this story, and we can’t wait to share this special series with you.”

Check [HERE] for more information, and stream the series [HERE].

Coming up: Britten’s Turn of the Screw

Opera 5 will return to the stage in spring 2024 with a production of Benjamin Britten’s The Turn of the Screw. The cast includes Asitha Tennekoon (Prologue/Peter Quint), Elizabeth Polese (Governess), Ryan McDonald (Miles), and Thera Barclay (Flora), and Rachel Krehm (Miss Jessel), with conductor Evan Mitchell, Music Director of the Kingston Symphony, and director Amanda Smith, Artistic Director of FAWN Chamber Creative. A 13-member chamber ensemble will perform.

Production design is by Shannon Lea Doyle, and lighting design by Noah Feaver. Performances will take place June 12-15, 2024 at Theatre Passe Muraille, and tickets go on sale in January 2024.

Opera 5’s other 2023-24 ventures include a Montréal workshop of the new Canadian opera Come Closer, and a new Opera McGill Intern Programme.

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