Hitchcock-style Opera Is Sure to Thrill at Vancouver’s Cultch

City Opera Images of Tyler Duncan and Sarah Vardy by Michelle Koebke from
Diamond’s Edge Photograph

It’s promising to be yet another exciting theatre and arts season in Vancouver! Companies around the city are launching their new productions, some particularly avant garde and definitely worth catching.

Upcoming at The Cultch Historic Theatre (1895 Venables) is City’s Opera’s mounting of Nigredro Hotel, a one-act chamber opera that is an intense delving into the intricacies of relationships and the instability and survival of the human psyche.

City Opera’s Nigredo Hotel runs from September 20-22, 2018 (8pm showtime) and represents the work of Nick Gotham (music) and Ann-Marie MacDonald (libretto), the latter a celebrated Canadian writer (Fall on Your Knees) and playwright (Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet)). The opera (Dora award winning) is the only libretto that MacDonald has ever written and holds a significant place within the corpus of Canadian opera. It has been performed across Canada, as well as Scotland and Australia.

City Opera Image of Sarah Vardy by Michelle Koebke from
Diamond’s Edge Photograph

Directed by Alan Corbishley, the opera traces the encounter between Raymond (played by Tyler Duncan), a tormented brain surgeon who flees in anguish to a hotel after being involved in a car crash that potentially involved a child, and Sophie (Sarah Vardy), the owner of the hotel. MacDonald’s libretto captures through wit and evocative memory the two characters’ sharing of their individual and collective stories. The journey is dark, intertwined, and enlightening, hence the title’s reference to “nigredo,” a Carl Jungian theory that revelation can only occur following passage through a dark night.

Accompanying MacDonald’s complex libretto is Gotham’s music, which combines both classical opera traditions, as well as the improvisation, rhythms, and occasionally disjunctive aspects of jazz. The result is an unusual hybrid that perfectly parallels the characters’ shared soaring romance, as well as the conflict and spiraling into madness, guilt, and self-doubt that they experience.

Tyler Duncan’s Headshot by Tatiana Daubek

Overall, the opera is sure to be a gorgeous and thrilling opera ride, with Vardy and Duncan, internationally acclaimed opera singers, as the audience’s vocal guides. Also on stage will be a four-player combo composed of Roger Parton on keyboard, Martin Fisk on percussion, François Houle on clarinet, and Laurence Mollerup on bass.

Further information and tickets (from $22.25) are available on-line.

Other upcoming fall productions at The Cultch include:

Kamloopa (September 25-October 6, 2018): This empowering play centres on two urban Indigenous sisters and a trickster and playfully and thoughtfully explores questions of (post-)colonialism, ancestry, and identity.

Testosterone (Oct 2-13, 2018): the true story of Kit, a trans man, who must negotiate his masculinity after walking into a men’s changing room at a gym for the first time.

The Ones We Leave Behind (October 24-November 3, 2018): Mounted by Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre, this production follows the story of Abby Chung, an investigator for the Public Trustee, who must search for relatives for a senior named Beatrice, somehow exploring her own past as well in the process.

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