Cross-Canada opera: The Overcoat comes to Toronto & Vancouver Keith Klassen, Krisztina Szabó & Alexander Dobson in The Overcoat by Morris Panych & James Rolfe, 2014. Photo: Dahlia Katz.

Cross-Canada opera: The Overcoat comes to Toronto & Vancouver

Jenna Simeonov

In Canada, four years is not a bad turnaround time between the conception of a new opera, and its first full production. In the case of James Rolfe and Morris Panych’s The Overcoat: An Opera, its journey from Tapestry Opera’s 2014 LibLab culminates in a full premiere in two Canadian cities, both in March 2018.

The Overcoat: An Opera has its roots in the 1998 Canadian play by Morris Panych and Wendy Gorling. Rolfe’s operatic adaptation is a co-commission with Tapestry Opera and Vancouver Opera, and a co-production between Tapestry, VO, and Canadian Stage.

“It proves that the model works!” says Tapestry Artistic Director Michael Mori The Overcoat: An Opera is one of our most exciting projects to date, as it combines Morris’ unique style of physical theatre with a masterful new score by James Rolfe. It’s a great honour to partner with two major pioneers in new Canadian works: Vancouver Opera and Canadian Stage. Together we’ll bring this bold venture to life, spurred along by the original creative team and a tradition of innovation inspired by the 1998, The Overcoat.”

We were lucky to have seen an early, miniature presentation of The Overcoat: An Opera in 2014, and it was one of the little operatic bites that piqued our curiosity. It’s also exciting that the opera will reunite the creative team from the original play, including librettist/director/creator Morris Panych, movement/creator Wendy Gorling, set designer Ken McDonald, lighting designer Alan Brodie, and costume designer Nancy Bryant.

So, congrats to the three great Canadian organizations who are coming together for a very cool project. The journey of The Overcoat: An Opera hopefully speaks to an accelerating pace of development for Canadian opera, and we’ll be there with bells on.

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