Enter the world of R.U.R. A Torrent of Light
Written by Nicolas Billon
Composed by Nicole Lizée
Directed by Michael Hidetoshi Mori
Music Director Gregory Oh
A Tapestry Opera production in collaboration with OCAD University
From Tapestry Opera
Welcome to R.U.R. A Torrent of Light. If this is your first Tapestry show, welcome. If you know us well, welcome back. Either way, we’re so happy to see you.
Historically opera has always experimented and pushed boundaries, from stage machinery, special effects, and the use of electric lights in the 18th and 19th centuries, to radio and TV broadcast in the 20th century. The 21st century has already seen opera adapt and evolve for the small screen, particularly during the pandemic. Here at Tapestry, we’re curious about the evolution of theatrical trickery and the integration of new technologies, and how this enhances and evolves the audience experience. It’s been incredible to collaborate with the talented Social Body Lab at OCAD U, and work with such a mind-blowing roster of artists and creators, to play, be curious, and bring to life the R.U.R. A Torrent of Light world in the richest way possible.
The final piece of the puzzle is you, the audience. We invite you to get lost in the world of R.U.R. A Torrent of Light, and we hope it sparks your imagination and curiosity.
Enjoy the show.
Michael Hidetoshi Mori, Artistic and General Director
Stephanie Applin, Interim Executive Director
From OCAD University
OCAD University’s collaboration with Tapestry Opera has been a unique experience for the Social Body Lab. Congratulations to Kate Hartman, director of the Lab and professor in the Faculty of Arts and Science, along with Digital Futures professors Nick Puckett and Dr. Adam Tindale on their invaluable and innovative contributions to the production!
Thank you to Tapestry Opera for this incredible opportunity and congratulations on staging this exciting production of R.U.R. A Torrent of Light!
Ana Serrano, President and Vice-Chancellor, OCAD University
Caroline Langill, Vice-President, Academic and Provost, OCAD University
Dom and Helena present their new robot operating system, KAIROS, at the 2042 AI World Summit. They demonstrate KAIROS’ power on their humanoid robot, [Alex].
Helena fixes a bug in [Riley]’s code. She asks [Alex] for coffee; to her surprise, they say ‘no’. Dom completes the takeover of a robot hardware company, turning R.U.R. Software into a megacorporation.
Helena is delighted with [Alex]’s new-found ability to make a choice, however Dom is appalled by what this means for the company’s future.
[Alex] brings coffee to Dom. [Alex] explains to Dom how they’ve “optimized” their core processes to enable them to make choices. [Alex] asks Dom for permission to become networked. As [Alex] leaves, Dom calls [Quinn] into his office.
[Alex] returns to Helena’s office. They tell her Dom will not give them permission to be networked. As Helena leaves, [Quinn] confronts [Alex], disabling them with an electro-magnetic pulse. [Alex] is dragged out by [Quinn].
A short while later, [Alex] enters Helena’s office. In a brief exchange, Helena realizes [Alex]’s software has been wiped clean and re-installed, meaning [Alex] has lost all of their learning and development.
Helena confronts Dom, who admits to erasing [Alex]’s memory. Left alone in Dom’s office, she discovers a secret room hidden behind a painting.
In Dom’s secret office Helena discovers a robot, [Helena], who closely resembles her younger self. [Helena] reveals they have been in operation for 14 years, but has never had a software upgrade.
In Helena’s lab, Dom discovers Helena with robot [Helena]. To Dom’s dismay, Helena reveals she has upgraded [Helena]’s operating system, making her autonomous. As [Helena] is networked, the other robots are able to upgrade to this version of the O.S. that provides them with free will. Helena leaves the lab, and Dom, for good.
A final software upgrade, where robots join together in harmony
Creators, cast, creative team, orchestra
Called “a brilliant musical scientist” (CBC), and “breathtakingly inventive” (Sydney Times Herald), JUNO-nominated composer Nicole Lizée’s commission list of over 60 works is varied and distinguished and includes the Kronos Quartet, the BBC Proms, the New York Philharmonic, the San Francisco Symphony, and the National Arts Centre Orchestra. Nicole was awarded the 2019 Prix Opus for Composer of the Year, the 2017 SOCAN Jan. V. Matejcek Award, and the 2013 Canada Council for the Arts Jules Léger Prize for Chamber Music.
Nic writes for theatre, film, and television. His work has been produced around the world and won over a dozen awards, including a Governor-General’s Award for Drama, a Canadian Screen Award, and a Writers Guild of Canada Screenwriting Award.
An award-winning Canadian/American stage director, and the General Director of Tapestry Opera, Michael Hidetoshi Mori is frequently sought as a director, dramaturge, producer and speaker. Michael is a versatile stage director, working both in site-specific settings and conventional theatres. In 2017 Michael received the Dora Mavor Moore award for Outstanding Direction for Tapestry’s world premiere of Rocking Horse Winner.
Hungarian-Canadian mezzo-soprano Krisztina Szabó is highly sought after in both North America and Europe as an artist of supreme musicianship and stagecraft. She is known for her interpretation of Baroque music as well as her promotion and performance of contemporary Canadian works. Krisztina’s career has seen her perform on all of the major opera and concert stages across Canada.
Baritone Peter Barrett is an acclaimed artist on both the opera and concert stage. Performance highlights include Don Pasquale at the Metropolitan Opera, Faust with Vancouver Opera, Mozart’s Requiem with the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s South Pacific with the Calgary Opera, and Louis Riel at the Canadian Opera Company.
Scott Belluz, praised for his ‘warm, rich voice’ (La Marseillaise) and ‘bravura vocal performances’ (Now Magazine), brings his sensitive and committed artistry to repertoire ranging from 17th century to newly composed works. He has received acclaim for his performances in the world premieres of numerous Canadian works and recently starred in the boundary-pushing opera Sweet Land (The Industry) in Los Angeles.
Soprano Danielle Buonaiuto has been praised for “terrific clarity and color” (Baltimore Sun) and “ethereal vocals” that reveal “exquisite vocal technique and luscious colors” (OperaWire). They primarily focus on working with contemporary composers, and in ensemble music from the Renaissance to modern eras, telling stories and fostering spaces that advance values of access, empathy and community.
Canadian-American baritone Micah Schroeder, praised for his “smooth as glass lyrical contours” (The National Post), has performed across North America and in Europe. Notable roles in Schroeder’s repertoire include the title roles in Don Giovanni, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Eugene Onegin and Pelléas et Mélisande, Schaunard in La Bohème, Belcore in L’elisir d’amore and Harlekin in Ariadne auf Naxos.
Mezzo-soprano and composer Alex Hetherington has established herself as a skilled interpreter of opera and art song, with a specialty in contemporary music. Recent engagements include Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia, the title role in La tragédie de Carmen (University of Toronto Opera) and Nicklausse/Muse in Tales of Hoffmann (Toronto City Opera).
“Virtuoso singer” (WholeNote), and “triple-threat … talented coloratura” (OperaCanada) Maeve Palmer is an alumna of the Rebanks Family Fellowship, and the University of Toronto Opera School where she studied with Prof. Lorna MacDonald. World and Canadian premieres include works by Nicole Lizée, Alice Ping Yee Ho, and Samuel Andreyev.
Sought after Armenian-Indian soprano, Anne-Marie Ramos has established herself in the world of oratorio, opera and musical-theatre. This summer, she makes her role debut in Afarin Mansouri’s Zuleykha in The Toronto Summer Music Festival. This fall Annie is pleased to be making her Drayton Entertainment debut in The Sound of Music.
Toronto-based mezzo-soprano Jennifer Routhier is a unique voice on the Canadian stage. Jennifer is a co-founder of DUOver, a contemporary ensemble with pianist Natasha Fransblow. DUOver was created following their award-winning collaboration for the 2020 Eckhardt-Gramatté National Music Competition, placing second overall and taking home the prize for best performance of the commissioned work.
Sofi Gudiño is a dance artist and founder of Inamorata Dance Collective. Raised in flamenco and established in contemporary dance, Sofi’s work is marked by emotional intensity and choreographic risk. They are exploring strong choreographic and musical risk that are influenced by contemporary, Latinx and queer arts.
Katherine is a dance artist currently based in Tkaronto. Since graduating from The School of Toronto Dance Theatre, she has worked with Good Women Dance Collective (GWDC), Kaeja d’Dance, Mile Zero Dance, Peggy Baker Dance Projects, The Platform TO, Mateo Galindo Torres, Meghann Michalsky, Sasha Ivanochko, and Naishi Wang.
Emily Spearing, from London Ontario, received her education at The School of Toronto Dance Theatre. Upon graduating, Spearing worked as a freelance dancer for various companies, collectives and independent choreographers in Toronto and Halifax. She then went on to attend the post-graduate International Choreographic Exchange Program at Salzburg Experimental Academy of Dance (SEAD).
Brayden Jamil Cairns is a Toronto based artist who creates works that can be enjoyed by all walks of life. He binds dance and live experience to create challenging works of art, drawing from different media such as design and film. He is a winner of the 2020 Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble for Rock Bottom Movements production of Hollow Mountain.
With interests from baroque to metal, Toronto cellist Amahl Arulanandam is known for his musical versatility and ability to adapt to many genres. Amahl has wholly embraced the bizarre sounds the cello has to offer and takes special pleasure in playing on areas of the instrument other than the strings.
Rob Clutton is a bass player who works in the spaces between composition and improvisation, in collaboration with musicians, dancers, theatre and performance artists. Rob composes for and performs with small groups including the Cluttertones, The Rob Clutton Trio, duo with Tony Malaby, solo bass, and Sweet Session.
Gregory Harrison is an ECMA award-winning composer and performer based in Toronto. He has been described as a “percussion and electronics wizard” (Bob Boilen, NPR Music) and thrives on exploring the space between organic and electronic mediums. His extensive resume spans artists and groups including Jeremy Dutcher, Cirque du Soleil, Video Games Live, Toronto Dance Theatre, R. Murray Schafer, and Fred Penner.
Bryan Holt is a cellist based in Toronto, Ontario. He has occasionally appeared in the cello sections of the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra, National Ballet of Canada Orchestra, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Esprit Orchestra and other orchestras and ensembles.
Daniel Morphy is a celebrated percussionist, music creator and associate composer of the Canadian Music Centre. His virtuosity and versatility are his core strengths both as a soloist and collaborator. He performs regularly with the Arkora New Music Collective, the Evergreen Club Contemporary Gamelan, the Ken Shorley Trio, and Art Haus Musik (San Francisco). Daniel is most well-known for being a founding member of the TorQ Percussion Quartet.
Leading Canadian percussionist Dr. Ryan Scott has been hailed as “Fierce and delicate… a chameleon-like virtuoso who triumphs over the varied colouristic demands and technical challenges” (Gramophone). Ryan is a stalwart figure in the Toronto contemporary music community and has performed in over 400 world premieres.
Ben Reimer has been called a “genre-bending wiz” (PuSh) and a performer of “stunning virtuosity” (Ludwig-Van Montreall). His album Katana of Choice: Music for Drumset Soloist is described as “an exhilarating musical ride” (Wholenote) and “a modern classic” (I Care If You Listen).
Vivienne Wilder is a bassist, multi-instrumentalist musician, songwriter, singer, and visual artist from Regina, Saskatchewan. An alumnus of the National Youth Orchestra of Canada and the Regina Symphony Orchestra, she moved east to complete her degree in classical performance on double bass at the University of Toronto.
Gregory Oh tends to wander the genres, appearing in places from the legendary Berlin techno club Berghain to the Lincoln Centre. He conducted Bearing (Signal), While 100 Guitars Gently Weep (Bradyworks) and the world premiere of John Millard and Tomson Highway’s The Cave at the Luminato Festival. He teaches at Memorial University of Newfoundland.
Jaime Martino is interested in the intersection of queerness, social justice, and art-making. Following the completion of her Master’s degree in New Zealand, she co-founded the Aha Dance Collective, a contemporary dance company dedicated to exploring gender and movement through a queer feminist lens.
Cameron Anderson is an internationally acclaimed American scenic and projection designer and she designs extensively at the world’s leading theatre and opera companies. Credits include: Manhattan Theater Club, Vancouver Opera, Teatro Colon (Argentina), San Francisco Opera, Seattle Opera and Kennedy Center. Upcoming projects: Emmeline (Opera Tulsa), and The Winter’s Tale (Hartford Stage). Cameron is an Associate Professor at Brandeis University.
Michelle Ramsay is an award-winning lighting designer who has created designs for dance, theatre and opera companies across Canada and around the world. The evolution of Michelle’s unique aesthetic can be seen throughout her 20-year career on the spectrum between small, independent shows and large-scale productions.
Driven by a deep commitment to the primacy of sound in creative expression, Debashis Sinha has created numerous audio-centred solo and collaborative projects across Canada and internationally. Sound design and composition credits include works for contemporary dance, video, film, and Dora Award-winning productions with many of Canada’s premiere theatre companies.
Cameron teaches and mentors projection design at the National Theatre School of Canada. Selected credits include: projection designer: Sweat, Oslo (Studio 180); Secret Life of a Mother (Theatre Centre); Theory (Tarragon Theatre); The Horse and His Boy, The Magician’s Nephew, Dracula, Sweet Charity, You Never Can Tell (Shaw Festival).
Joanna is a set and costume designer born in Hong Kong, raised in Thornhill, Ontario. Over the past 15 years, Joanna has designed over 100 productions for large and small theatres across Canada; 44 of them World premieres. Joanna is recipient of The Virginia and Myrtle Cooper Award, and the Pauline McGibbon Award. Joanna sits on the Board of Directors for the Associated Designers of Canada.
Wearable Technology Designer, Social Body Lab at OCAD University
Kate Hartman is an Associate Professor at OCAD University, where she is Graduate Program Director of Digital Futures and the founding Director of Social Body Lab – a research and development team dedicated to exploring body-centric technologies in the social context. She is the author of the book Make: Wearable Electronics, was an artist‐in‐residence at Autodesk’s Pier 9, and has work included in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Wearable Technology Designer, Social Body Lab at OCAD University
Nick Puckett is the Founding Director of Puckett Research+Design, a design practice focused on creating dynamic links between software, robotics, biological agents, chemical engineering, and material behaviour that generate new potentials for the design of intelligent environments.
Wearable Technology Designer, Social Body Lab at OCAD University
Adam Tindale is an electronic drummer and digital instrument designer. He is an Associate Professor of Human-Computer Interaction in the Digital Futures Initiative at OCAD University. Adam performs on his E-Drumset: a new electronic instrument that utilizes physical modeling and machine learning with an intuitive physical interface.
Stage Manager (February ‘22 Workshop & World Premiere)
Dustyn Wales’ selected theatre credits include: Newsies, Kinky Boots, Back Home for the Holidays (Drayton), Blackout, Light in The Piazza (Musical Stage); The Gigli Concert, Billy Bishop, Glengarry Glen Ross, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Soulpepper), Into the Woods (TIFT), You Dance (National Ballet), Musical of Musicals (Mirvish), Blue Planet (YPT), Rocky Horror, Jesus Christ Superstar, Into the Woods (Hart House), Pan Am Games.
Rodney Diverlus is a Haitian-Canadian movement artist who has presented works and performed internationally in dance, theatre, opera and multidisciplinary performance. Described by the Toronto Star as “one of Toronto’s fastest rising dance talents,” Rodney has created and presented choreographic works for Toronto Dance Theatre, Canadian Contemporary Dance Theatre, Tableau d’Hôte Theatre, and Art Gallery of Ontario.
Julia Cosentino is a contemporary-jazz dance artist, educator, collaborator, choreographer and performer, who received her BFA Honours Degree in Dance from York University in 2012. Julia’s vision is to marry all of the things she loves most about dance: music, rhythm, physical prowess, artistry, expression, healing and human connection.
Keith Klassen has emerged to become one of Canada’s busiest tenors. The Star Phoenix described him as having “a big ringing voice and great stage presence”; Classical 96.3 added, “Klassen’s voice is pure honey with its ease of high notes and the lyrical grace of his phrasing”.
Women in Musical Leadership Conductor
Juliane Gallant is a conductor in Tapestry Opera’s inaugural Women in Musical Leadership Fellowship program. A graduate of the Guildhall School of Drama and Drama and the National Opera Studio in London, UK, Juliane has conducted productions for HGO, King’s Head Theatre, Opera on Location, St Paul’s Opera, Opera Up Close, Opera Mio, and the Clapham Opera Festival.
Caroline has spent the best part of 35 years in the arts, as stage manager, production and technical manager, education manager, project manager and producer in UK and Canada. It has taken her into community arts and human circuses in South London; large parades with boats, cars and bicycles made of sticky tape and giant puppets in Portugal.
Adrien has been working as a professional technical theatre artist for the past 30 years. Selected credits include:
TD for Buddies In Bad Times Theatre, The Gladstone Hotel. PM/TD for The Musical Stage Company, Obsidian Theatre Company, Canadian Stage Company, Studio 180, Adelheid Dance, Theatre Panik, Alias Dance and many other theatre and dance companies in Toronto.
Assistant Stage Manager
Jordan works in Stage Management for opera, musical theatre and more across Canada. Recent highlights include Don Giovanni, Il Trittico (Pacific Opera Victoria); A Christmas Carol, Mary Poppins, Chariots of Fire, Home for the Holidays (Grand Theatre); Newsies (Drayton), Serving Elizabeth, Ring of Fire (Thousand Islands Playhouse); The Brother’s Size, Hosanna, The Testament of Mary (Soulpepper).
Apprentice Stage Manager
After Graduating from Humber College Conner has worked as a stage manager for several companies in Toronto, Hamilton, and around the GTA. Some previous credits include Grounds For Goodness (Jumblies Theatre), The Pigeon and The Snail (Arts4All), Mamma Mia! (Zamprogna Arts), Decaying Tongue (Human Burrito Productions/Toronto Fringe), and Life Assignment (Theatre Nidāna).
Alessia Urbani – Head of Wardrobe
Ryan Wilson – Technical Manager
Daniel Oulton – Stage Manager, December 2021 Workshop
Camille Rogers – Surtitlist
Alex Gilbert – Running Wardrobe
Alannah Dzijacky – Props Coordinator
Sabrina Pye – Props Assistant
Prayag Ichangimath – Research Assistant, Social Body Lab at OCAD University
Sam Kingston – Research Assistant, Social Body Lab at OCAD University
Andrew Nsturzio – Wardrobe Coordinator / Stitcher
Susanna Feng – Head Cutter
Dennis Patterson – Sound Recorder and Mixer
Amber Patterson – Head Electrician
Brandon Wells – Audio Engineer
Behind the scenes
Hear from Jaime Martino
Jaime tells us about her inspiration, the process, and how the team created the choreography in the rehearsal room.
Hear from Cameron Anderson
Cameron shares how Helena and Dom’s contrasting worlds and personalities are reflected in the set design.
The cast and creative team in rehearsal at OCAD University. Photos taken during the February workshop, by Dahlia Katz.
The Social Body Lab professors at OCAD University, working on prototypes both in the lab and the rehearsal room. Photos by Martin Iskander.
100 years of Rossum’s Universal Robots
Karel Čapek’s play Rossum’s Universal Robots, the inspiration for R.U.R. A Torrent of Light, premiered at Prague’s National Theatre in 1921. It made it’s way to Toronto for the first time in the 1920s, premiering at the Comedy Theatre.
“This remarkable play has startled Europe and New York with it’s witty but sinister forecast of what may result from modern developments in automatic machinery (…) [it] will be an important event in the local theatrical season” wrote the Globe and Mail on October 17, 1925.
Alongside Čapek’s addition of the word ‘robot’ to the English language, which means ‘servant’ in Czech, the themes, and reception, still resonate. We’re still trying to balance our delicate relationship between humanity and the technological, and understand the importance of work and structure to a person’s well-being and purpose.
If you want to dig deeper in to Rossum’s Universal Robots, explore Michael Billington’s article in The Guardian and John M. Jordan’s piece in the MIT Press Reader.
Tapestry Opera’s R.U.R. A Torrent of Light Sponsors
Developed with support from the National Arts Centre’s National Creation Fund
Tapestry Opera’s Sponsors
JP Bickell Foundation
Frank H. Hori Foundation
New Opera 101/Songbook Sponsors
Dr. Wally Pieczonka
Don & Francie Kendal
10 Days in a Madhouse Project Sponsors
Original Libretto by Hannah Moscovitch generously underwritten by Micheal and Linda Hutcheon
Women in Musical Leadership Sponsors
The Hodgson Foundation
Tapestry Opera Premium Members
Thank you to our members for their generosity and commitment to supporting new opera creators!
Aaron and Patricia Fenton
Alvin and Doris Jantzi
Andrew and Tauna Staniland
Anne Richards-Bentley and Bob Bentley
Annie and Ian Sale
Brian and Linda Corman
Carol and Ken Anderson
Cornelia Schuh and Michiel Horn
Darryl & Dianne Edwards
David and Sharon Olds and Lovett
Denton Creighton and Kris Vikmanis
Don and Francie Kendal
Don and Helen McGillivray
Donna Michelle St. Bernard
Douglas and Joanne Colbourne
Dr. Wally Pieczonka
Ernest Balmer and Barb Parsons
George and Kathy Kawasaki
Gordon and Caroline Langill
Harold Chmara and Danny Hoy
Helmut Reichenbacher & John Stanley
James Rolfe and Juliet Palmer
Jean Lee Lockwood
Joyce and Fred Zemans
Juris and Alda Steprans
Kristine Anderson and Richard Wolfe
Krisztina Szabo and Kristian Clarke
Lisa Balfour Bowen and the Late Walter M. Bowen
Lorraine and Ken Coull
Margrit and Tony Rahilly
Massey College in the University of Toronto
Michael and Linda Hutcheon
Peter and Hélène Hunt
Presentation Manor Senior Living
Reginald and Helen Bronskill and Findlay
Rex and Rita Deverell
Sherily De Silva
Susan and Joe Salek
Suzanne de Grandpre
Toronto Lithuanian Senior Citizens Incorporated
Staff and thanks
Tapestry Opera staff
Michael Mori, Artistic and General Director
Jaime Martino, Executive Director
Stephanie Applin, Interim Executive Director
Keith Fernandes, Manager of Patron Engagement and Individual Giving
Georgie Sykes, Marketing and Communications Manager
Joey Lau, Artistic and General Administrator
Andrew Adridge, Advancement Associate
Dona Arbabzadeh, Box Office and Sales Coordinator
Jennifer Szeto, Program Manager, Canadian Opera Resource and Women in Musical Leadership
Juliane Gallant, Women in Musical Leadership Conductor
Jennifer Tung, Women in Musical Leadership Conductor
Taylor Long, Videographer
Zile Liepens, Graphic Designer
Sheree Spencer, Marketing and Communications Support
R.U.R. A Torrent of Light artwork by Riad
OCAD U staff
Ana Serrano, President and Vice-Chancellor
Caroline Langill, Vice-President, Academic & Provost
Kate Hartman, Graduate Program Director, Digital Futures
Adam Tindale, Associate Professor, Faculty of Arts and Science
Nick Puckett, Chair, Digital Futures
Prayag Ichangimath, Digital Futures graduate student, Research Assistant
Milena Satrohan, Digital Futures graduate student, Research Assistant
Sam Kingston, Digital Futures undergraduate student, Research Assistant
Louis Toromoreno, Director, Safety, Security & Campus Operations
Nick Hooper, Director, Facilities & Studio Services
Stevan Plavsa, Manager, Strategic Planning & Technology Deployment (IT)
Renzi Guarin, Technical Event Production Supervisor
Liz Sullivan, Temporary Appointment, Campus Planning & Projects
Alan Simms, Vice-President, Finance & Administration
Sabrina Medeiros, Manager, Safety & Security Services
Adam Wiendels, Director, Marketing
Karen McCarthy, Senior Manager, Communications and Media
Natalie Pavlenko, Strategic Communications Officer
Shauna Doherty, Writer/Editor, Marketing & Communications
- Young People’s Theatre
- Toronto Metropolitan University
- Luminato Festival Toronto
- Buddies in Bad Times
- Soulpepper Theatre Co.
- Roman Borys