Never-before-staged Winnipeg productions and a drive-in opera. MUO’s General Manager Brendan McKeen was on Morning Light!

This year’s Manitoba Underground Opera festival To Have and To Hold examines weddings and the traditions that surround them.

“Weddings — love them, hate them — you at least have a feeling about them,” says MUO’s Brendan McKeen. “And what do strong feelings go with? They go with opera.” 


Taking place at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, the first show, Svadba & Bluebeard's Castle, features a double bill. Combining a pre-pandemic planned production with pandemic limitations, the staging brings together recorded digital singers from across Canada with live in-person singing as well. 

Ana Sokolovic’s Svadba, sung in Serbian, is all about the pre-wedding day jitters, emotions, and traditions as six women gather ahead of the bride-to-be’s big day. In contrast, Bela Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle, sung in English, features a couple living a not-so-happily ever after. 


Manitoba Underground Opera gets outdoors in their second show, a drive-in production of Béatrice et Bénédict by Hector Berlioz. 

Taking place at the historic Lower Fort Garry, the picturesque setting just north of Winnipeg will feature a stage with two large screens set up on either side. 

“The audience shows up, sits in their cars, turns to the radio station and just watches the concert happen,” explains McKeen, who encourages people to get there early and enjoy the grounds. 

To Have and To Hold from August 25-27. 

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