Founded in Fall 2020 by Artistic Director Mike Fan aka drag diva Tanya Smania, Opéra Queens presents classical vocal music in drag, gender-bent, and queerified, prioritizing IBPOC artists. Based in Montréal and Toronto, new commissions include When Daylight Rises and re-imagined overtures to Samson et Dalila and Adriana Lecouvreur by Morgan-Paige Melbourne. Other projects included the live-streamed Chez Pauline Viardot recital; live and filmed productions of Drama Queens featuring opera scenes of history, myth, and legend; as well as Latin Night on LatinX and HispanX identity, centred on the Canadian première of these wings are meant to fly (Sérpa & Kline), an opera on the Pulse Orlando tragedy.
Initiatives such as the Opéra Queens Podcast spotlights queer and IBPOC artists with conversations taking audiences behind the stage through conversations on race, representation, and transcending heteronormativity and colonization in the operatic canon. Performances and events include collaborations with McGill’s Queer History Month, Lucky Penny Opera, Waterloo Public Library, Greater Victoria Public Library, Schulich School of Music, Rainbow Reels Queer & Trans Film Festival, YES Montréal, and Kin Experience.
Opéra Queens has received nearly $200,000 of funding in its first two years of operation from the Digital Now and Public Outreach grants of Canada Council for the Arts, Music Production & Presentation from Ontario Council for the Arts, Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Joseph-Armand Bombardier CGSM, York Region Chamber Music, Watershed Festival, and Queer McGill. Upcoming Opéra Queens prepares productions A Night of 1000 Cleopatras and Tanya’s Secret, a queer reworking of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin. To learn more, visit www.OperaQueens.ca or find them on social media @OperaQueens!