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THE QUEEN IN ME Reclaims Space On Stage, Imagines New Possibilities For Opera

Boundary-pushing co-production unites the Canadian Opera Company, Amplified Opera, Nightwood Theatre, and Theatre Gargantua.

Combining comedy, opera, and plenty of drama, The Queen In Me explores the many ways that race, gender, and sexuality are represented, and often policed, in the opera industry. The co-production from the Canadian Opera Company, Amplified Opera, Nightwood Theatre, and Theatre Gargantua was created by and stars interdisciplinary artist Teiya Kasahara c??a??e??e??.

The production will be featured as a Major Cultural Event as part of Toronto Pride 2022; events produced for this program will be showcased by Pride Toronto, strengthening each participating cultural organization's support of the 2SLGBTQ+ community while diversifying the array of events available to the community through the month of June. The Queen In Me runs for three performances on June 2, 3, and 4, 2022 at the Canadian Opera Company Theatre at 227 Front St. E.

The Queen In Me is framed through the lens of The Magic Flute's iconic Queen of the Night. In musing what else this character could be if only released from expectations and stereotype, the show reclaims space for the multitudes of women, trans, and non-binary individuals excluded from the stage, and dares to imagine new narrative possibilities for the art form.

Teiya Kasahara is a queer, trans non-binary, multi-and- interdisciplinary creator-performer based in Tkarón:to (Toronto). Their background includes over a decade of singing both traditional and contemporary operatic roles across North America and Europe. They are also a co-founding member of Amplified Opera, an organization that aims to bring performers from equity-seeking groups to more opera stages, which was named COC's Disruptor-in-Residence in January 2021.

"I was always taught to go deep into every character I was playing, to bring as much dimensionality to those characters on the stage," says Kasahara. "But it always felt like, despite her power, the Queen of the Night was given so little room to grow. And so I started to dream: who is this character and what might she be saying off-stage? The Queen In Me is a place where the Queen can finally speak for the first time-and speak up not only for herself, but for characters in the canon, and various performers in this industry who may also feel like they are othered."

Co-directing on this production are Canadian Dora-Award-winning director and dramaturg Andrea Donaldson and Canadian stage director and producer Aria Umezawa. Donaldson is the Artistic Director of Nightwood Theatre with extensive experience directing productions all across the country. Umezawa is a co-founder of Amplified Opera whose work is focused on changing the culture of opera and opera creation.

The creative team for The Queen In Me features some of Toronto's most acclaimed local creators. Designer Joanna Yu is behind the production's imaginative stage and costume design, spotlighting Kasahara underneath their own proscenium, and placing them in a spectacularly draped 10-foot gown with accompanying headpiece. Lighting designer André du Toit brings drama and flair, alongside projections designed by Laura Warren.

The Queen In Me features a range of dramatic arias from some of the world's most well-known and well-loved operas, accompanied by musicians of the COC Orchestra: Puccini's La Bohème, Madama Butterfly, and Manon Lescaut; Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor; Verdi's Macbeth and Rigoletto; R. Strauss' Salome; and Mozart's The Magic Flute.

For Kasahara, the production is an important part of a larger healing journey-with the art form and with the industry. "This piece has allowed me to grow as a human and as an artist," they say. "I'm really proud of the honesty that lies at the root of it all, and that can be a hard thing to do as a performer. I hope that people leave this show feeling challenged and feeling that their perspective on opera, and opera singers, can grow and expand, just as our perspectives of ourselves, within the industry, can-and should-evolve, too."

More About THE QUEEN IN ME

Single tickets for The Queen In Me are $65 for adults and $35 for Opera Under 30 tickets. Tickets can be purchased online at coc.ca or by calling the Canadian Opera Company Box Office at 416-363-8231. For more information on booking student groups, Arts Worker pricing, as well as other specially priced tickets available to young people under the age of 15, please visit coc.ca.

For the most up-to-date information regarding current health and safety protocols at the Canadian Opera Company Theatre, please visit coc.ca/SafeReturn.



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