For our second fully staged production, we presented Britten’s ghostly chamber opera in a uniquely appropriate venue: a Victorian mansion-turned- playhouse, complete with winding back staircases and creaking floorboards. The reduction of Britten’s original chamber orchestra score to solo piano accompaniment by Topher Mokrzewski kept the energy of the drama chillingly focused.

Sung in English.

Video by Nancy Hitzig | Photos courtesy of Darryl Block


May 24, 25, 26 & 27, 2012
Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse
79A St. George Street, Toronto


Against the Grain Theatre’s The Turn of the Screw the best sort of Britten | Musical Toronto
“Against the Grain Theatre has, with its first attempt to mount opera in a traditional theatre space, achieved that rarest of wonders: a production that succeeds on all levels.”

Frighteningly Good | NOW Magazine
“…expertly performed, [with] music director Christopher Mokrzewski bringing out all the complex colours in a piano reduction of Britten’s score.”

Review: The Turn of the Screw | Stage Door
“Quite an achievement for such a young company…. To witness an opera in such physical proximity to the singers is exciting in itself. To see an opera when the cast is giving outstanding performances, as it does here, is beyond thrilling.”

Review: The Turn of the Screw | Mooney on Theatre
“Taking place at the Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse, this opera finds the perfect space to showcase such a classically haunting tale.”

Review: The Turn of the Screw | Opus One Review
“Against the Grain Theatre has magic that carries even a shoebox production into your imagination and makes it live as art.”

Review: The Turn of the Screw | Charlebois Post
“It is perhaps the best production of the Screw that I have seen. Toronto needs this company’s quality works.”


Miriam Khalil (Soprano)

The Governess

One of Canada’s rising sopranos, Miriam Khalil is a founding member of AtG and an alumna of the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio. Her roles with AtG include Mimi (La Bohème), the Governess (The Turn of the Screw), Susanna (Figaro’s Wedding), Mélisande (Pelléas et Mélisande), and Elvira (#UncleJohn). Other credits include Almirena in Handel’s Rinaldo and Cleopatra in Giulio Cesare (Glyndebourne Festival Opera), Mimi in La Bohème (Opera Hamilton), Musetta in La Bohème (Edmonton Opera), Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro (Pacific Opera Victoria and Opera Lyra Ottawa), and various opera galas with The Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, Sudbury Symphony and L’Opéra de Montréal.

Michael Barrett (Tenor)

Peter Quint

Born in Newfoundland, tenor Michael Barrett is a former member of the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio. Recent roles with the COC include Monostatos in Die Zauberflote, High Priest of Neptune in Idomeneo, El Remendado in Carmen, and Snout in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Michael regularly appears with the Aldeburgh Connection, where he performed in Our Story for the 25th Anniversary celebrations. He has sung with Toronto Operetta Theatre, Edmonton Opera, the Newfoundland Symphony and Against the Grain Theatre.

Betty Waynne Allison (Soprano)

Miss Jessel

Soprano Betty Waynne Allison is becoming known to audiences as one who “combines it all — voice, acting ability, presence and beauty — in one highly impressive package” (Toronto Sun). Based in British Columbia, she is a graduate of the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio. Major credits include the world premiere of Mary’s Wedding with Pacific Opera Victoria; the title role in Floyd’s Susannah with Florentine Opera; Alice in Verdi’s Falstaff with L’Opéra-Théâtre de Metz Métropole; and Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus with Edmonton Opera. Early roles in the COC Ensemble included Fiordiligi (Così Fan Tutte); Donna Anna (Don Giovanni); and Turnspit (Rusalka). Betty has performed a versatile repertoire, demonstrating her natural ability and talent in roles ranging from the Countess (Le Nozze di Figaro) and Tatiana (Eugene Onegin) to Vixen (Cunning Little Vixen) and Elizabeth I (Gloriana). She is equally comfortable on the concert stage, with her rich and florid interpretation of pieces such as Symphony VIII by Mahler, Brahms’ Requiem and Gubaidulia’s Galgenlieder à 3. She has previously appeared with Against the Grain Theatre as Miss Jessel in The Turn of the Screw.

Megan Latham (Soprano)

Mrs. Grose

Megan Latham has enjoyed the distinction of recognition in opera, oratorio and recital, and has worked with distinguished conductors including Harry Bicket, Will Crutchfield, Richard Bradshaw, Miguel Harth-Bedoya, David Agler, Jeanne Lamon, Agnes Grossman and Johannes Debus. Previously with AtG, she performed the role of Mrs. Grose in The Turn of the Screw. Her engagements with the Canadian Opera Company include Giovanna in Verdi’s Rigoletto, Voice of the Mother in Les contes d’Hoffmann, Zita in Gianni Schicchi, Mère Jeanne in Dialogues des Carmélites and Herodias (cover) in Salome. As a concert artist, Ms Latham has been the soloist for numerous works including Handel’s Messiah and Dixit Dominus, Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle, Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass, Mozart’s Krönungsmesse, and Vivaldi’s Gloria and Beatus Vir. She has performed throughout North America, and made her Carnegie Hall debut for the Marilyn Horne Foundation.

Johane Ansell (Soprano)


Johane Ansell was born in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, and trained at the Universities of Saskatchewan and Toronto. Last summer, she graduated from the Opera Studio in Amsterdam. Before moving to Amsterdam, Ms Ansell sang a range of baroque and ottocento repertoire with small companies and ensembles within Canada and recorded for the Naxos label. Since moving to Amsterdam, Ms Ansell has begun to sing within the lyric repertoire, with performances as Female Chorus (The Rape of Lucretia) at the Opera Studio and Donna Elvira with the Amsterdam Symphony. Recent engagements include: a series of Opera Galas with the Nationale Reisopera; Giulietta (Les Contes d’Hoffmann) with Opera Project; the Turnspit (Rusalka) for Lyric Opera Dublin, First Lady for Opera Saskatoon, Marzelline (Fidelio) for Dorset Opera, Barbarina for Opera Lyra.

Sebastian Gayowsky (Treble)


Sebastian Gayowsky is a member of the Canadian Children’s Opera Company. The Turn of the Screw is first show with Against the Grain Theatre.

Creative Team

Joel Ivany

Stage Director

Joel Ivany is the founder and artistic director of AtG, and is the program director of The Banff Centre’s “Open Space: Opera in the 21st Century”. His directing credits include productions of Verdi’s Macbeth (Minnesota Opera), Carmen (Vancouver Opera), Les Contes d’Hoffmann (Edmonton Opera), Gavin Bryars’ Marilyn Forever (Adelaide Festival) and Le nozze di Figaro (Norwegian National Opera). He is the recent nominee of the Dora Award for Outstanding New Opera/Musical for AtG’s #UncleJohn and the recipient of the same prize for Figaro’s Wedding. His 2015/2016 engagements include mainstage directing debuts at the Canadian Opera Company (Carmen) and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (Mozart’s Requiem), the premiere of AtG’s A Little Too Cozy at The Banff Centre, and a revival of #UncleJohn at the Ottawa International Chamber Festival.

Christopher Mokrzewski

Music Director

Pianist, vocal coach and conductor Topher Mokrzewski is a steadily rising figure in the worlds of Canadian opera and chamber music. He was recently appointed Resident Conductor of Calgary Opera, and is the founding Music Director of AtG. A graduate of the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio, he is frequently sought as a soloist, collaborator and music director. His 2015/2016 season includes conducting Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado and Ravel’s L’enfant et les Sortilèges, and serving as assistant conductor for LakméDie tote Stadt and Die Zauberflöte with Calgary Opera. He also returns to the faculty of The Banff Centre’s “Open Space: Opera in the 21st Century” opera program this summer as Music Director of A Little Too Cozy, the latest instalment in AtG’s Mozart/Da Ponte trilogy adaptations.

Jason Hand

Lighting Designer

Jason “Legz” Hand is a Toronto-based lighting designer working in theatre and opera. He has designed at major opera houses in Toronto, Ottawa, Edmonton, Vancouver, and Minneapolis, and at theatres and festivals including Canadian Stage, Soulpepper, Shaw, Stratford, Banff, and Theatre Calgary. He is the recipient of four Dora Award nominations for Lighting Design, and was the 2012 protégé recipient of the prestigious Siminovitch Prize in Theatre. Beginning with the first Bohème in 2011, Jason has lit six of AtG’s eight productions.

Camellia Koo

Set Designer

Camellia Koo is a Toronto-based set and costume designer for theatre, opera, dance and site-specific performance installations. Recent designs for opera include Don Giovanni (RCM), and Marilyn Forever (Aventa Ensemble), The Tales of Hoffmann (Edmonton Opera), Maria Stuarda (Pacific Opera Victoria), The Lighthouse (Boston Lyric Opera), Dido and Aeneas (Opera Avalon),Turn of the Screw and La Bohéme (Against the Grain), Giiwedin (Native Earth), andThe Shadow (Tapestry New Opera). Ms Koo is an alumna of the Lincoln Centre Theatre’s Director’s Lab. She is the recipient of five Dora Mavor Moor Awards (Toronto), a Sterling Award (Edmonton), a Chalmers Award Grant, and the Siminovitch Protégé Prize. She has worked with Against the Grain on The Turn of the Screw, Pelléas et Mélisande, and La Bohème.

Erika Connor

Costume Designer

Erika Connor is originally from Kerrobert, Saskatchewan. She has worked on Against the Grain’s productions of Figaro’s Wedding,The Turn of the Screw, AtG’s Messiah, and Kafka/Janáček/Kurtág. Previous costume design credits in Toronto include 10 years with Ross Petty Productions. Erika has also worked with Soulpepper, Canstage, Theatre Passe Muraille, Obsidian and Studio 180.