Manitoba Underground Opera (MUO) presents weird and wonderful ways of telling old stories with new perspectives.
The 2022 festival, titled For Better or for Worse, runs from August 18 through the 27 and explores the ups and downs of matrimony with two reimagined masterworks.
“It’s one of the most bold and weird seasons we’ve ever done,” says MUO General Manager Brendan McKeen. “It’s got something for everyone.”
Opening with a “classically beautiful” plein air production of Gluck’s Orphée et Eurydice at St. Boniface Cathedral, the opera features James McLennan and Christina Thanisch-Smith in the title roles plus a 12 person chorus and 7 piece orchestra.
“It’s going to be pretty,” says McKeen about the visual element of the production. “And then it’s going to touch your heart at the end.”
The stunning St. Boniface Cathedral has often served as a venue for MUO productions, though attendees of the festival will make their way to another iconic spot for the second production: The Marriage of Figaro.
Taking place in one of Canada’s longest running gay bars, Club 200 is where the Mozart opera’s nuptials will occur.
“We’ve done a really big twist (to the opera),” explains McKeen, who warns purists may want to steer clear.
Mezzo-soprano Heather Molloy will sing the title role in this production which features a queer marriage, rather than the original heteronormal one scripted by librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte.
“This is our second season about weddings… and we wanted to make sure that by presenting two whole festivals about weddings, that we didn’t make them all straight,” explains McKeen. “We wanted to make sure that when we made this queer Figaro, we did it in a space that really represented that.”
Audience and performers will be immersed in the club, embracing the space with performers utilizing the full space. “It’s going to be wild and fun,” says McKeen.
The 2022 Festival also marks the return of the MUO charity concert, Werking on Sunshine, August 26 with proceeds going towards Sunshine House.
“They do really incredible work in the city,” says McKeen about the community drop-in and resource centre focusing on harm reduction and social inclusion.
For Better or for Worse runs from August 18 through August 27. Visit: www.manitobaundergroundopera.com for tickets and more details.