Canada’s innovative music and opera organizations — re:Naissance Opera, Sound the Alarm: Music/Theatre, Turning Point Ensemble, Arraymusic, and Loose Tea Music Theatre — have announced the Canadian premiere of the Pulitzer Prize-winning opera Angel’s Bone, a contemporary piece by Du Yun and Royce Vavrek about two young angels who fall to earth. The newly imagined, all-Canadian production spotlights the child and youth trafficking crisis in Canada, and aims to ignite urgent conversation and awareness around child and youth sexual exploitation. The premiere will take place in Vancouver from November 25–27, 2022 at The Annex Theatre as part of IndieFest.
Angel’s Bone was created in 2015 by Chinese-American composer Du Yun, who became the first Asian woman to win the Pulitzer for music, and Canadian librettist Royce Vavrek. The story follows two youth who, while seeking safety and stability, are lured into exploitative relationships by their traffickers. While the story paints a picture of the realities of child and youth trafficking, it also depicts the resilience of survivors and the journey of reclaiming one’s power. The production features bold multimedia design by James Nesbitt to help focus the narrative back onto the victims. The music, overseen by music director Naomi Woo, incorporates a blend of medieval chant, electronic sound design, dance music, punk-inspired arias, and standard classical new music.
November 25-27, 2022
Asitha Tennekoon – Boy Angel
Winona Myles – Girl Angel (25th/27th)
Eliza Bagg – Girl Angel (24th/26th)
Alyssa Samson – MRS. XE
Alexander Dobson – MR. XE
Tickets from $45
On sale at angelsbone.eventbrite.ca.
The co-production reflects a unique, nonhierarchical partnership of the five Canadian companies with a leadership team that equally shares roles in the creative process and in project management. The project was conceived by Debi Wong (re:Naissance Opera) and Brenda Lochhead (Director of the Social Context Committee), and is co-directed by Alan Corbishley (Sound the Alarm: Music/Theatre) and Alaina Viau (Loose Tea Music Theatre). Holly Meyer-Dymny is the set and lighting designer, and Joline Rath is the costume designer. The cast includes tenor Asitha Tennekoon (boy angel), multi-disciplinary artist Winona Myles (girl angel), experimental musician Eliza Bagg (girl angel), mezzo-soprano Alyssa Samson (Mrs. XE), and baritone Alexander Dobson (Mr. XE).
“Many people don’t realize that trafficking and sexual exploitation of youth happens in our local communities at an alarming rate,” says Debi Wong, founder of re:Naissance Opera and IndieFest. “It is the result of many intertwining systems and behaviours that we all unknowingly contribute to: racial and gender stereotypes, hyper sexualization of women and girls, and toxic masculinity. We hope Angel’s Bone will help people recognize how these issues perpetuate dangerous power dynamics that make it easy for children to be unseen and at-risk in our societies, especially those who are Indigenous or racialized, female-identifying, trans or gender diverse, and those who are living in poverty. To change the future trajectory of at-risk children and youth, we need to see a collaborative effort from everyone.”
Each performance will be preceded by a 30-minute pre-show chat that highlights a different theme addressed in the piece: the root causes of human trafficking; the exploitation of youth; the systems that at-risk children; youth and survivors intersect with and how they perpetuate imbalanced power structures; and the lasting impact of trafficking and exploitation; including how trauma is perpetuated without access to lifelong supports. The pre-show talks will offer an open conversation structure, and provide viewers with a lens through which to consider and experience the work. A Q&A with members from the social context committee and the artistic team will follow each performance.
Angel’s Bone is being presented as part of the third annual IndieFest, from Nov 16-27. More information on the cast and show is available here. The production will travel to Toronto in Spring 2024.