The Scene


Joel Ivany

Joel Ivany

Founder & Artistic Director, Against the Grain Theatre

Stage Director Joel Ivany was a recent finalist and prize winner in the 6th European Opera Directing prize for his concept presentation of Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi alongside designers Camellia Koo and Jason Hand. His most recent projects include directing the World Premiere of Gavin Bryars’ chamber opera Marilyn Forever, with the Aventa Ensemble in Victoria, directing a new production of Les Contes D’Hoffmann with Edmonton Opera, directing Macbeth for Minnesota Opera, directing Carmen for Vancouver Opera and becoming the sessional artistic director of Opera at the Banff Centre.

This past season he was nominated for Best Director at the Dora Mavor Moore Awards (Figaro’s Wedding) and won the Dora Award for Outstanding New Opera for Figaro’s Wedding (for which he wrote a new contemporary libretto and directed a new adaptation of Le Nozze di Figaro, for Against the Grain Theatre).

He has directed for Against the Grain Theatre, The Canadian Opera Company, Minnesota Opera, The Aventa Ensemble, The Canadian Children’s Opera Company, The Centre for Opera Studies in Italy, The U of T Opera Division, Wilfrid Laurier University, Music Niagara, Opera Nuova, Western University, The Royal Conservatory of Music and The Banff Centre.

He is the founder and artistic director of Against the Grain Theatre (AtG), a Toronto based cutting-edge theatre collective producing intimate, innovative theatre. NOW Magazine said, “Against the Grain Theatre proves itself one of the city’s most inventive young companies.” He directed their first production of La Bohème for which he wrote a new English libretto (undefined), which has since been used by Opera Columbus in the United States and Cowtown Opera in Calgary. Other writing credits include two one-act plays,Variations on a Theme for the 3XNON Theatre Festival and 27 Weeks for The New Ideas Festival in Toronto.

His past directing credits include such productions as: a touring production of Hansel and Gretel for the Canadian Opera Company; undefined at The Banff Centre, conducted by David Agler; knotty together, a new work written and composed by Njo Kong Kie, performed in Dublin, Ireland; and Kander and Ebb’s Cabaret. With AtG: reviving his sold-out production of La Bohème, which Opera Canada critiqued, “Ivany’s staging worked improbably well, giving the proceedings a cinéma vérité feel and giving the audience a sense of involvement.“; Kurt Weill’s one act opera, Die Sieben Todsünden and Britten’s chilling The Turn of the Screw, AtG’s Messiah and Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande. He was revival Director at Minnesota Opera for Thaddeus Strassberger’s production of Verdi’s Nabucco and Associate Stage Director at Washington National Opera for the same production. His work with Strassberger includes Chabrier’s Le Roi Malgré Lui at both The Bard Summerscape Festival and The Wexford Opera Festival, Ireland. He also served as revival Director at the Norwegian National Opera for Strassberger’s produciton of Le Nozze di Figaro. Various other assisting credits include La Bohème, at The Canadian Opera Company; Rigoletto, at the Norwegian National Opera and La Forza del destino with Martin Duncan at Opera Holland Park in London, UK. He has assisted Robert Carsen on Orfeo ed Euridice (Canadian Opera Company), Iphigénie en Tauride (COC) Dialogues des Carmélites (COC) and La Fanciulla del West (Norwegian National Opera).

His short film, The King’s Mask was made for the Norwegian National Opera highlighting the various production departments at the company.

He is a recipient of numerous scholarships and grants through such funding bodies as the Canada Arts Council, The Bras Family Foundation, Theatre Ontario and was awarded Best Director at the Purple Shorts One Act Original Play Festival. He holds a music degree from the University of Western Ontario and an artist diploma in Opera Directing from the University of Toronto. He has served on faculty at The Lyric Studio Weimar, Germany, Opera NUOVA in Edmonton and The Banff Centre: Opera as Theatre program.

Upcoming projects include directing Australian Premiere of Marilyn Forever at the Adelaide Festival and a new production of Offenbach’s La Belle Hélène at the Royal Conservatory of Music.

He will also be a part of Canadian Stage’s Director Development program for 2015.

With AtG he will direct #UncleJohn (re-imagined Don Giovanni), and in the new year, a staged double-bill presentation of Schubert’s Die Schöne Müllerin and Messaien’s Harawi called Death and Desire.

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