Reside present questions opera’s bitter soprano be aware


Queer Arts Pageant

When: June 17-28

The place: The Roundhouse Arts Centre

Tickets and data: queerartsfestival.com


Opera singer Teiya Kasahara has a particular connection to The Magic Flute.

The 1975 Ingmar Bergman movie model of the 18th-century Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart masterpiece was the primary time a-then-12-year-old Kasahara noticed opera. Twenty years later that very same opera grew to become the inspiration for the one-person present The Queen in Me that Kasahara will carry out June 21-22 as a part of Vancouver’s Queer Arts Festival (QAF) on the Roundhouse Arts Centre, June 17-28.

Kasahara, who identifies as gender queer and makes use of the them/they pronoun, skilled that operatic eye-opening by way of a summer season singing workshop on the UBC Summer Music Institute.

“I used to be blown away. I had by no means seen opera earlier than,” mentioned Kasahara, who grew up in Abbotsford. “I used to be amazed what the human voice may do together with an orchestra. To see the units and the lighting and the way it was filmed — I used to be, ‘Wow.’ Regardless that it was in Swedish it simply blew me away.”


Soprano Teiya Kasahara, who studied on the College of B.C. and was raised in Abbotsford, brings The Queen in Me to the Roundhouse Arts Centre through the Queer Arts Pageant on June 17-28 in Vancouver.

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After giving up on a profession as a rock singer — the remainder of her mates weren’t as “dedicated” — Kasahara selected opera and went on to earn a Bachelor of Music in Opera Efficiency diploma from the College of B.C.

Then, at 22, Kasahara moved to Toronto and labored with amongst others the Canadian Opera Firm.

However whereas Kasahara took to stage after stage to sing traditional opera, the singer felt more and more conscious of the sexist confines during which the sopranos exist in traditional opera. Give it some thought: the same old script is the soprano sings superbly about unrequited love, forbidden love, discovering love, shedding love after which they normally die (strategies differ from insanity to execution).

Flash-forward to 2016 and Kasahara, 34, had performed the Queen of the Evening from The Magic Flute eight instances and more and more she felt the character of the well-known fallen girl was missing in complexity, one thing Kasahara noticed as a difficulty for soprano characters all through opera.

In a bid to embolden the sopranos, Kasahara took the Queen of the Evening out of The Magic Flute and gave her a backstory and a voice outdoors of the well-known arias. Utilizing music from Mozart and different well-known items, in addition to the spoken phrase, Kasahara dug into her personal experiences as a biracial, queer, feminist and created The Queen in Me, a cheeky take a look at gender, race and opera’s love of an over-the-top trope.

“I extract her from this opera and take her out of this make-believe world and I cease the opera and I’m giving her a platform to talk to lastly voice her story, which she by no means will get the chance to do within the opera itself,” mentioned Kasahara, who’s joined within the present by pianist Rachel Iwaasa. “She type of unpacks the actually sexist and misogynistic manner during which we signify females, feminine characters via opera and on the stage, and the way we nonetheless perpetuate that in the present day you realize by placing on these outdated operas.”

Kasahara sees the Andrea Donaldson-directed The Queen in Me as only one step towards reforming the inflexible opera kind and opening the curtains to a less-constrained and slim world.

“To possibly someway see opera that isn’t so sure by voice sorts and intercourse and or gender. We may very well be a bit extra versatile with desirous to create tales that enable for that flexibility and vary and be capable of rent artists due to their artistry and never since you want a tenor or a baritone or I would like this particular person to be taller than this particular person. You realize that type of factor — to be much less inflexible in casting. To be much less inflexible in how we’re composing and creating these operas. That will be actually cool to see that. That’s down the highway however I feel within the meantime we are able to see lots of re-imagination of the works within the cannon proper now. (We will) be extra playful with that and never maintain all these works on a pedestal a lot.

“Why not break them open and use the expertise we now have? Why not digital devices? Why not an electrical guitar? Mozart was a rocker I child you not,” added Kasahara. “You hear is stuff and also you assume that might be so cool to listen to that on an electrical guitar.”

Utilizing opera to take a stand about opera could seem type of like inside ball, however while you take a look at the historical past of opera it started as and has at all times had a whiff of the underdog, searching for change.

“Opera has been a spot the place composers, poets and librettist writers have used this medium to touch upon what’s happening of their tradition in that point interval. Folks have been censored by governments and monarchies. Folks have lived and died for this work, for opera,” mentioned Kasahara. “I feel it’s what we’re missing now. We’ve develop into so complacent with it being this elite artwork kind. It was initially made for the individuals by the individuals, then it was type of taken over by these monarchies and managed and censored. However no, music is for all and music connects for all. If we are able to do this with totally different tales like opera, which is music and phrases collectively then why not? It’s an awesome artwork kind that I like to do. It makes me really feel complete singing this sort of music on this capability and making it even more true by creating my very own works like The Queen in Me and speaking concerning the points that we have been simply completely satisfied to hush away.”

For QAF inventive director SD Holman The Queen in Me is a “good match,” for this 12 months’s theme of rEvolution. The competition shall be showcasing 100-plus artists and 20 totally different occasions.


The Queer Songbook Orchestra takes to the stage on the Queer Arts Pageant on June 28. The orchestra is one in all 20 reveals on the slate on the Roundhouse Arts Centre, June 17-28.

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“The evolution of the revolution. We have now massive anniversaries this 12 months, proper? We have now the Stonewall anniversary, which is the launch of prides around the globe. Then in fact the omnibus that additionally occurred 50 years in the past, which was a partial decriminalization of sodomy. So speaking about that. Revolution is not only a one-time factor so that and what hasn’t modified. So we wished to acknowledge that and work with that,” Holman mentioned.

The 11-day competition provides all kinds of performances and occasions, however sitting squarely at its coronary heart is the annual curated artwork exhibition. The Relational rEvolutions present is guest-curated by Elwood Jimmy, Thunderchild First Nation from Saskatchewan artist, educator, curator and gardener.

“It’s all kinds of labor that I’m hoping that when individuals stroll via they are going to make some connection between the work,” mentioned Jimmy concerning the present that highlights work from artists throughout Canada. “(I’m) asking inside this exhibition: ‘How can we create and generate environments and relationships that may stand up to battle and stand up to disaster and stand up to issues like shortage or local weather change?’ ”

Jimmy, who identifies as queer male, says festivals just like the QAF are paramount for queer artists.

“I feel it is very important create and domesticate areas the place everyone can really feel protected,” mentioned Jimmy. “I’ve been doing this work for a half a lifetime now and you may see very tangible shifts when it comes to areas opening up and I feel generally we would are inclined to assume, ‘OK, we’ve executed the work now we are able to chill out a bit and type of step again,’ however I feel it’s at all times essential to be very rigorous concerning the work that comes after we now have cultivated the area. To take care of them.”

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