In January 2021, the Canadian Opera Company announced a new addition to its COC Academy of early career development programs: the Disruptor-in-Residence program.
Toronto-based Amplified Opera was selected as the first participant in this unique, two-year residency, which offers resources and support during the critical transition period from start-up to established organization. The emerging opera company will also have the chance to learn from COC staff about digital content creation in the current cultural climate. The artistic collaboration aims to support increased equity, diversity, and inclusivity within the arts through workshops and training for fellow artists and activities that foster greater community engagement.
Amplified Opera is co-founded by Canadian performing artists Teiya Kasahara 笠原 貞野 (they/them), Marion Newman (she/her), Asitha Tennekoon (he/him), and Canadian stage director Aria Umezawa (she/her). The company launched publicly in the fall of 2019 with AMPLIFY, a series of concert recitals and panels that explored stories of blindness and vision loss; gender expectations in opera; and differences in Black identity across the US-Canadian border. One of the featured recitals, The Queen In Me, was created by Kasahara and welcomed by critics and audiences alike for its candid exploration of conventional opera roles and their reliance on gender and sex stereotypes. The opera-inspired solo piece is being further developed through Amplified Opera, Nightwood Theatre, and Theatre Gargantua, with plans for a Toronto premiere to be announced soon.
“The idea for this program evolved organically from the COC’s Company-in-Residence,” says COC Deputy General Director Christie Darville. “We are proud to support emerging opera creators through our COC Academy. As a national performing arts organization, it is our responsibility to boost the voices of those that regularly challenge artistic norms, practices — and us. In naming Amplified Opera our Disruptor-in-Residence, we are committed to supporting the work to make opera more relevant and resonant than ever.”
ABOUT AMPLIFIED OPERA
Amplified Opera is a new collective based in Toronto that aims to make the case for opera’s continued existence and relevance within the modern world. Officially launched in 2019, the company’s core values are rooted in ‘five Cs’ that govern its mission and artistic practices: conversation, community, creativity, curiosity, and compassion. Amplified Opera is dedicated to rethinking common creative practices in the art form, deepening opera’s relationships with its communities, and forging meaningful paths forward for the entire performing arts sector. The company is passionate about commissioning new works, as well as reframing older opera, and championing diverse perspectives as the necessary building blocks for a sustainable, and more inclusive, art form. Amplified Opera was co-founded by Aria Umezawa, Asitha Tennekoon, Marion Newman, and Teiya Kasahara. For more information, visit amplifiedopera.com.
Photo Credits: Teiya Kasahara, photo: Janet Kimber; Marion Newman, photo: Howard J. Davis; Asitha Tennekoon, photo: Dahlia Katz; Aria Umezawa, photo: Hayley Andoff