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LibLabs, Dramaturgs and Opera to Go in Toronto









Xin Wang & Alvin Crawford in the 2008 world premiere of Sanctuary Song, presented by Tapestry & Theatre Direct in association with Luminato.

Turns out the Hartford Opera Theater folks are not the only group that creates short operas through a collaborative process. In fact, they may have “borrowed” the idea from a Toronto-based organization called Tapestry New Opera, which has been holding an annual Composer-Librettist Laboratory (known affectionately as the LibLab) every year since 1995. LibLab is also the model for the English National Opera Studio’s All In Opera, as well as Pacific Opera Victoria’s Composer-Librettist Workshop.

Here’s how it works: four composers and four writers are brought together for a 10-day period of collaborative discovery through the creation of sixteen 5-minute scenes, each of which are written, composed and performed within a 48 hour cycle that is repeated four times, enabling each writer to work with each composer. Guiding the composers and librettists throughout the process are dramaturg (I thought a cure have been found for that, but I guess not) Michael Albano and musical dramaturg Wayne Strongman, Tapestry’s Managing Artistic Director. At the disposal of the creative teams will be some of Canada’s most respected performers, including soprano Carla Huhtanen, mezzo soprano Kimberly Barber, tenor Keith Klassen, baritone Peter McGillivray, as well collaborative pianist Christopher Foley. Out of this seminal laboratory, nearly 100 artists have graduated with 43 teams emerging to create new works for the stage, either for Tapestry of for other companies nationally and internationally. Tapestru is currently celebrating its 30th season.

This year’s Composer-Librettist Laboratory is coming up in a couple of weeks–August 23rd to September 2nd at Toronto’s Rosedale United Church. The writers chosen are Hannah Moscovitch, Anusree Roy, Michael Pollard, and Maja Ardal. Joining them will be composers Norbert Palej, Anna Höstman, Iman Habibi, and Gareth Williams. Also joining Tapestry in 2010-2011 is multi-talented theatre and opera artist Marjorie Chan, as the company’s new Writer in Residence, a role most recently assumed by Governor General’s Award Winner Colleen Murphy. Marjorie is a graduate of the LibLab (2003 and 2009) and librettist for the Dora Award-winning new opera Sanctuary Song which premiered with Tapestry and Theatre Direct for the 2008 Luminato Festival.

Thanks to S21 familiar Chris Foley, bloggerturg of The Collaborative Piano Blog and Legacy Leadership Intern at Tapestry for the tip.


Comment from Christian
Time: August 6, 2010, 2:12 pm

I went to school with Alvin – he’s a very talented singer!