Words sing off the page in Manitoba Underground Opera’s 2024 ‘Unwritten’ season and it all begins with an operatic adaptation of D.H. Lawrence’s Rocking Horse Winner. 

Co-developed by Toronto-based Tapestry Opera, the English novelist’s short story was adapted by Canadian Anna Chatterton with music by Irish composer Gareth Williams.  

“One thing we really want to do with the breadth of our season is always have some Canadian work,” says MUO Executive Director Brendan McKeen. “It’s really easy to pick through the 400 years of the (operatic) canon and not have anything created in Canada.” 



The story centers around Paul, a boy who can correctly pick winners of upcoming horse races by riding his rocking horse, who observes his mother fretting about bills and cursing her bad luck.  

“He really wants his mother to be happy,” says tenor Andrew Derynck, who sings the leading role. “(Paul) has a real obsession with being lucky... and for him, it’s finding these names that might bring him wealth and money winning at races.”  

Luck, money, and success do come in the tale, but so too does a more cautionary tone, examining the perils of greed, gambling and consumerism. 

Derynck, originally from Jeannette’s Creek, Ontario, returns to Manitoba Underground Opera for a second season after premiering the role of “Joe Woe is me” in last year’s “The Mansplaining Division.”  

“Andrew has an amazing voice,” says McKeen, who goes on to compliment the lyrical quality and size of sound, while also acknowledging his talent as actor on stage.  
“This is a dude in 20 years you’re going to see do the big, big stuff.”  

Joining Derynck in the cast are Janice Marple (Ava), Kyle Briscoe (Oscar), and Paul Forget (Bassett), in addition to four singers as “The House” – Sofia Escamilla, Ashley Schneberger, Brady Barrientos, and Max Fingerote.  

Directed by Alissa Watson with music direction by Shannon Hiebert, “Rocking Horse Winner” runs May 22 and May 23 at the Millenium Centre.  

For tickets and more details, visit: www.manitobaundergroundopera.com