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2023/2024 Season Announcement

October 10, 2023  

Canada’s Experimental Opera Company, Against the Grain Theatre, Enters Its Next Era 

After 13 seasons of producing experimental opera under the founding artistic leadership of Joel Ivany, Against the Grain Theatre (AtG) enters its next phase of organizational evolution with an upcoming Artistic Director search and three new operas in development. 

Board Chair Marc Chalifoux says, “Our board of directors and management team is dedicated to moving the organization through this pivotal moment, and our clear mandate and strategic plan will be our guiding principles in this process. We are aiming to open the call for applications within the next few months and will be looking for someone committed to carrying the AtG torch onward.”

While undergoing an Artistic Director search, AtG remains dedicated to its artists throughout the 2023/24 Season by giving a second life to recent successes, sustaining the Opera Pub community, and providing fulsome support to new works in development. Addressing the importance of securing artistic leadership before selecting future programming, Chalifoux adds, “We are committed to projects that Joel began seeding at AtG and we will return to premiering new work and producing in-person pieces once an Artistic Director is in place. This ensures that our roster of artists is supported until we can unite our dedicated audiences with new artistic leadership.”

Digital hits La Bohème, Messiah/Complex, BOUND, Sāvitri, and Identity will be re-released due to audience demand, and the beloved Opera Pubs will continue to showcase a diverse roster of singers across Toronto (The Drake Hotel), Edmonton (Blue Chair, in partnership with Edmonton Opera), and Vancouver (La Fabrique St-George Winery, in partnership with City Opera Vancouver) to ensure our singers and opera fans stay connected in-person. Future seasons will include new large-scale operas and vocal works currently in active development: Identity: A Song Cycle (Dinuk Wijeratne and Shauntay Grant), Sankofa (Titilope Sonuga and Igor Stravinsky) — a co-commission with Art of Time Ensemble, and Indians on Vacation (Ian Cusson and Royce Vavrek) — a co-commission with Edmonton Opera. Ivany, who recently departed AtG in August 2023, remains creatively involved in the season as director of Identity: A Song Cycle and co-commissioner of Indians on Vacation with Edmonton Opera. 

Helming the organizational transition and producing works within the season are General Director Robin Whiffen — who takes parental leave this winter after four years co-leading the organization — and Interim General Director Amy Lynn Strilchuk, who will step into the role in November from her prior Director of Operations position. 

Evolving the nature and perception of what opera and vocal works can be is literally our Vision statement,” says Whiffen. “Our artistic programming has embodied that vision for 13 years, and now we have the opportunity to live it through meaningful organizational evolution. We have a loyal community deeply invested in us owning that space in our sector, and the transitional work I’ve been doing with Amy and our board is generative and clear-headed. I’m excited for the road ahead and confident in our pathway forward.”

Lauren Halasz