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Opera in the 21st Century 

At the Banff Centre for the Arts: 

Opera in the 21st Century is a performance-based, collaborative training experience for emerging opera professionals that truly challenges the conventions of opera performance, production, and design. 

This residency's focus is to develop young opera professionals with the skills and experience to take them to the next level of their careers and beyond. The multi-disciplinary program offers a unique opportunity to work with diverse artists, and is open to singers, instrumentalists, conductors, and stage directors.

This year's cohort explored the possibilities of digital production when coupled with contemporary opera. This exploration resulted in five beautifully crafted scenes showing an array of musical talent with the beautiful scenery and studios at the Banff Centre serving as the backdrop. 

Opera in the 21st Century is generously supported by the David Spencer Endowment Encouragement Fund.

Director Amanda Testini

Directing Mentor Joel Ivany

Conductor Rosemary Thomson

Piano Holly Kroeker

Video Stephen Bell Taylor Long

Coffeeshop Film & Creative

Design Patrick Du Wors

Production team Joel Ivany

Mabel Wonnacott Andrew Adridge

Lesley Abarquez Bradley

Scene 4: "Agnès and The Boy" from Written on Skin 

Composed by: George Benjamin
Text by: Martin Crimp

Sawyer Craig (Agnès)
Sean Haid (The Boy)

Written on Skin plays with the legend of the Troubadour. The piece centres around three characters, The Protector (a wealthy land owner), The Boy (an artist), and Agnès (the Protector's wife). The Protector hires The Boy to create a book about his family's life, during the process of the book's creation Agnès and the Boy discover their love for each other.

In this scene, Agnès sneaks into The Boy's room as he is creating, asking him to draw an image of a woman, The Boy shows her an image of Eve. Agnès scoffs, asking him to draw a picture of a woman that would be attractive to him.

Act III: "We'll find your grave, Marcel" from Fantasma

Composed by: Ian Cusson
Libretto by: Colleen Murphy

Chelsea Pringle-Duchemin (Lea)
Brittany Rae (Ivy)
Sean Haid (Marcel)

Fantasma takes place at a run-down carnival desperate to create new buzz and excitement. The troupe drum up the idea of a social media hashtag featuring a "ghost" who haunts the carnival. Two teens Lea and Ivy attend the carnival with their mother and happen upon a very real ghost of a young boy who was assaulted and killed years ago at a nearby school. They promise to honour his memory and help him find his final resting place. 

In this scene, Lea and Ivy show Marcel that there is hope in finding out where his grave is, promising to locate it and come back for him when they do.

Act V: "Alice alone" from 27

Composed by: Ricky Ian Gordon
Libretto by: Royce Vavrek

Christine Li (Gertrude Stein)
Madison Craig (Alice Toklas)
Zachary Rioux (Pablo Picasso)
Noah Grove (Ernest Hemingway)
Marcel Sokalski (Leo Stein/Man Ray)

27 is an opera that explores the relationship of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, and the salons that they hosted at their residence at 27 rue de Fleurus in Paris. The piece uses Gertrude's own text centring her love of art and her love for her partner Alice while also imagining her now genuine place as an institution of art and a definer of 20th-century art and culture.


In this final scene of the opera, Gertrude contemplates life, art, and her love, Alice's presence in her life. We end with an image of Picasso's famous painting of Gertrude, this time, with Alice added to it.

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