What does opera in the age of Trumpism look like? #AtGBOUND
Toronto’s acclaimed indie opera company Against the Grain Theatre present Kevin Lau’s newly commissioned opera BOUND v. 2 in a concert performance
TORONTO – Against the Grain Theatre (AtG) has matched one of opera’s most dramatic composers, George Frideric Handel, to a narrative inspired by the current, chilling refugee stories populating our newsfeeds — stories of migration and displacement due to war, discrimination, hate, and intolerance. AtG’s Artistic Director and librettist Joel Ivany alongside composer Kevin Lau begin the indie-company’s ninth season by digging deeper into the music and text of BOUND. This November, AtG presents their first commissioned opera written by Toronto composer Kevin Lau in a concert presentation called BOUND v. 2. November’s concert (part-two of a three-year concept-to-realization project) focuses on where Lau’s new composition intersects with the melodies of Handel’s music. A mash-up of centuries, styles, and stories.
“Bringing Handel’s music into the 21st century is a way for us to directly grapple with the big issues of tradition versus change that face our society today,” said Lau. The development of BOUND began as a mash up of Handel arias and ensembles used to highlight the current state of those dehumanized and mistreated across the globe. “Our opera does delve into darker themes—among them, the ethical consequences of trading individual freedoms for national security, an issue which grows more relevant every day—but ultimately our hope is to sow musical seeds of empathy, by finding truth among differences.”
AtG Founder and Artistic Director Joel Ivany has created a new English libretto, minting another AtG transladaptation to express the plight of the characters—who are based on real people—in BOUND v. 2. The opera centres around four citizens who are detained by an omnipotent and oppressive government; the State. We watch and hear about their struggles, hopes and fears.
The development of this opera began in 2017: a week of inspired round-table discussions with Ivany, Lau, creative team, and artists where they invited guest speakers that included survivors, storytellers, and members of communities that are too often overlooked to share their stories. “We asked them very personal and important questions,” said Miriam Khalil who portrays Noor Haddad, a journalist detained for refusing to remove her hijab at a border crossing. In her role, for example, Khalil balances between baroque flourishes and maqamat embellishments, “with Kevin, we explored how these unique experiences would colour our music and shape our characters.” With teeming collaboration, the singers eventually chose the news stories that best suited them and from those stories Ivany formed the base of the new libretto, which was then to be meshed with Handel’s music while Lau worked on his score and developed a new musical language for each character.
Kevin Lau’s BOUND v. 2 is written for chamber orchestra, four singers, actor and digital sound artist. The ensemble will be led by AtG Founding Member and music director Topher Mokrzewksi and features AtG Founding Member and soprano Miriam Khalil, countertenor David Trudgen, tenor Andrew Haji and baritone Justin Welsh as the cast of detainees, Martha Burns as the voice of the state, and the electronic stylings of Acote.
This workshop concert will be presented in Longboat Hall at The Great Hall (1087 Queen Street West, Toronto, Ontario, M6J 1H3) on November 19, 20 and 21, 2018. Sung in English. All performances begin at 8pm with doors open at 7:30pm. Tickets ranging from $35 – $80 are now on sale at www.againstthegraintheatre.com
Bound v. 2
Against the Grain Theatre
November 19, 20, and 21
The Great Hall — Longboat Hall, 1087 Queen Street West, Toronto, Ontario, M6J 1H3
Tickets: $35 – $80
More info: www.againstthegraintheatre.com/bound/
Toronto’s Against the Grain Theatre (AtG) has invigorated opera audiences since its first sold-out production to an audience of fifty guests in December of 2010. AtG revitalizes the operatic art form by presenting an eclectic array of musical works in unconventional spaces and innovative ways. Since its first season, AtG has consistently performed to standing room-only crowds, to both critical and public acclaim, and continues to introduce hundreds of new opera-goers to the art form. Founded by an adventurous collective of friends and artists, the company endeavours to be serious in intent and execution, yet fun and irreverent in spirit. Current members include Joel Ivany, Topher Mokrzewski, Jonathan MacArthur, Amanda Hadi, David Eliakis, Jason Hand, Miriam Khalil, and Michaela Dickey.