Banff Diaries: the mid-way report

Banff Diaries: the mid-way report

Jenna Simeonov

Amid the Canadian Rockies, the Against the Grain Theatre team and 13 young artists are in the third week of their time at The Banff Centre’s Open Space: Opera in the 21st Century program.

So far, the young artists have had lessons with Canadian greats like Judith Forst and Ben Heppner, and they’ve had the chance to talk new opera with Minnesota Opera’s Michael Christie. They’ve spent time with Alexander Neef, General Director of the Canadian Opera Company, a special opportunity to present themselves as emerging singers in a feedback-oriented environment.

Baritone Iain MacNeil, Open Space 2106 participant (Tarquinius, The Rape of Lucretia), studying by headlight in dusky Banff.

Select singers prepared impressive and challenging chamber music, in collaboration with artists of the Banff Centre’s Chamber Music Residency. Directed by Assistant Stage Director Anna Theodosakis, the artists created an evening of staged chamber music, our favourite new way to make the most of small ensembles and small performance spaces.

Others are working on No One’s Safe, a mashup of music from Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Così fan tutte; Artistic Director Joel Ivany has written new text and a new “whodunnit” story connecting familiar music, and Music Director Miloš Repicky is creating a musical environment full of play, experimentation, and novelty.

Music Director Christopher Mokrzewski (The Rape of Lucretia), Music Director Miloš Repicky (No One’s Safe), and Artistic Director Joel Ivany.

Closing the 2016 Open Space program will be four performances of Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia, conducted by AtG Music Director Christopher Mokrzewski and directed by the totally brilliant and constantly inspiring Paul Curran.

Among the facts of the program are the moments of inspiration and joy that come out of opera, and working on opera in beautiful Banff. Each person at Open Space has had the chance to look at a stunning mountain vista, or stellar sunset, and say to the person next to them, “wow.” There have been heroic tales of hiking mountains, of bear sightings, of conquering the horror that is 80% oxygen levels while being asked to sing.

l-r: Christopher Mokrzewski, Paul Curran (director, The Rape of Lucretia, Miloš Repicky, Lilah Gossman, Gordon Gerrard.

There have been new friendships made, yoga classes attended, babies hugged, many meals shared, and lots of dense, intensive work done by fab young artists. Plus, it’s hard to beat the conversations that boil over under the right chemistry of creative folks and sufficient booze.

Stay in the loop with everything #BanffOpera, by following @AtGTheatre on Twitter and Instagram. Visit The Banff Centre’s events calendar for more info on No One’s Safe, July 7-9, and The Rape of Lucretia, July 14-17.

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