R.U.R. A Torrent of Light, an operatic experience bursting with light, sound, dance and drama, is premiering in Toronto this May with a stellar cast and creative team, tackling questions of humanity’s convergence with technology.
The show marks a landmark collaboration between Toronto’s trailblazing indie opera company Tapestry Opera and Canada’s largest and oldest university for art and design, OCAD University, expanding the boundaries of the opera genre to create a thrilling musical and theatrical experience for Toronto’s art and culture-lovers.
R.U.R. A Torrent of Light is written by Governor General award-winning TV, film and stage writer Nicolas Billon, composed by the world-renowned JUNO-nominated composer and solo-turntablist Nicole Lizée who makes her full-length operatic debut, and directed by Tapestry’s Dora Award-winning Artistic and General Director Michael Hidetoshi Mori.
The opera is inspired by Czech playwright Karel Čapek’s 1920’s science-fiction play Rossum’s Universal Robots, which first introduced the word and concept of ‘robot’ to the world. Tapestry’s world premiere production blends dance, video projection, a chamber orchestra of over 100 instruments, and unique costumes and wearable technology created with OCAD University’s Social Body Lab, to create an immersive and unforgettable operatic science-fiction experience, with the action taking place in a near-future fictional software company.
Hungarian-Canadian mezzo-soprano Krisztina Szabó (S.O.S. Sketch Opera Singers, Tapestry Opera; Estro Poetico-harmonico III, Azrieli Music Prizes Gala broadcast on Medici.tv) stars as Helena, a Steve Wozniak-level coder and designer. Newfoundland baritone Peter Barrett (Don Pasquale, Metropolitan Opera; Faust, Vancouver Opera) stars as Helena’s husband and business partner Dom.
Canadian countertenor Scott Belluz (The Shadow, Tapestry Opera; Opéra Féerie, Chants Libres) plays [Alex], Helena and Dom’s prototype human-form personal-assistance robot. Canadian soprano Danielle Buonaiuto, Canadian-American baritone Micah Schroeder, and Canadian mezzo-soprano Alex Hetherington also join the cast as human-form AI enabled robots. Sopranos Maeve Palmer and Anne-Marie Ramos, mezzo-soprano Jennifer Routhier, and dance artists Sofi Gudiño, Katherine Semchuk, Emily Spearing and Brayden Jamil Cairns join the company as the robot chorus.
Dora-nominated music director and conductor Gregory Oh (Rocking Horse Winner Cast Recording, Tapestry Opera) joins the creative team as Music Director, alongside award-winning choreographer Jaime Martino (choreographer with Momentum Dance Toronto). American Cameron Anderson (West Side Story, Vancouver Opera) joins the team as the Set Designer, and award-winning Joanna Yu (How To Fail As A Popstar, Canadian Stage) joins as Costume Designer. Siminovitch Prize finalist and multi-Dora Award-winning Michelle Ramsay (Shanawdithit, Rocking Horse Winner, Tapestry Opera) is the Lighting Designer, Dora Award-winning Debashis Sinha (her body as words, Peggy Baker Dance Projects) is the Sound Designer, and Cameron Davis (Shanawdithit, Tapestry Opera, Secret Life of a Mother, Theatre Centre) is the Projection Designer.
Rodney Diverlus joins the team as Associate Choreographer, with Julia Cosentino as Assistant Choreographer. Tapestry Opera’s Women in Musical Leadership conductor Juliane Gallant joins the team as Assistant Conductor.
Tapestry has been working closely with OCAD University’s Social Body Lab, whose mandate is to question the relationship between humans and technology, throughout the development of R.U.R. A Torrent of Light. Prototypes, including wearable speakers and LED collars, have been developed by Director of the Lab and Associate Professor in the Faculty of Arts & Sciences Kate Hartman, with Digital Futures Associate Professors Nick Puckett and Dr. Adam Tindale, which will help contribute to a cohesive design that blurs the lines between what is tangibly real and what is artificial.
R.U.R. A Torrent of Light makes its world premiere May 24 to June 5 in OCAD University’s Great Hall. Tickets are on sale now.
Development of R.U.R. A Torrent of Light was generously supported by the National Arts Centre’s National Creation Fund.