Canada’s First Lesbian Opera

This past summer the frank extended our reach when we presented When the Sun Comes Out at Tapestry Opera in Toronto, as part of World Pride, in association with the Queer Arts Festival and Tapestry Opera.

When the Sun Comes Out was originally commissioned by the Queer Arts Festival in 2013, and premiered on August 5th of that year. WTSCO made history as Canada’s first lesbian opera, by composer Leslie Uyeda and poet Rachel Rose, and played to three sold-out houses at the Roundhouse Community Centre, in Yaletown.

the frank became involved when our board president Joseph Bardley saw the work and was really moved by it. He reached out to QAF and started discussions about ways in which the frank could partner to bring the piece to new life. These discussions resulted in being able to present the work in Toronto as part of World Pride alongside QAF and Tapestry Opera.

the frank‘s collaboration on this project was ultimately thanks to Joseph’s vehement belief in the power and importance of this work. Read Joseph’s program notes below:

Thank you for being a part of the Toronto premiere of When The Sun Comes Out.

The vision for a new production of this very timely piece began back in August 2013, when I had the pleasure of sharing in the work’s world premiere. I attended that production having overheard snatches of Leslie’s thrilling score in rehearsal at Vancouver Opera. I knew, then, that this work was something very special, and that it deserved to be heard by audiences further afield. If consistent standing ovations and three consecutive sold-out performances in Vancouver were any indicator, I wasn’t alone in this assessment!

the frank theatre company is the only specifically Queer professional theatre company on Canada’s West Coast. We maintain a commitment to multi-disciplinary work. We embody and celebrate compelling Queer stories with collective human resonance – variations, as this sort of work tends to be, on universal themes of personal struggle against oppression and repression, the quest for acceptance, intimacy, and love, and a fundamental belief that a just world awaits those who collaborate in its creation.

It seemed only natural, then, that the frank collaborate with the Queer Arts Festival, with Tapestry New Opera, and this cadre of incredibly gifted artists, administrators and advocates in support of this week’s slate of performances.

When The Sun Comes Out is potent, courageous and visceral. It re-affirms the potential of opera, as an art form, to tell stories that are universal and immediately relatable and understandable. It also very deliberately – and effectively – deconstructs the hetero and gender-normative assumptions that are particularly (and frequently) inherent in this medum. Put simply, it tells a story that we all know. Fundamentalia could easily double for Iran, or Uganda, or the southern United States, or Vancouver, or here, in Toronto, in 2014. The characters in this tightly-woven piece exquisitely mirror many of our own personal hopes, fears, failings, frustrations and uncertainties. They are, in essence, us.

This work is a reminder of the life-changing issues still faced by millions of Queer people the world over, as they strive for equality, acceptance and agency. It is also a re-affirmation of the human spirit’s capacity for intimacy, courage and love despite these adversities. And, it is a reminder that the performing arts provide a wholly unique medium with which to share and safeguard these stories.

My sincere and heartfelt thanks to Leslie Uyeda and Rachel Rose for affording this team their blessing to bring this deserving work to new life in Toronto, and to Rachel Iwaasa for her tireless and unceasing encouragement, support and insight throughout the process.

My thanks, as well, to Chris Gatchalian and the frank’s Board of Directors for a shared belief in the vision for this collaboration.

Enjoy the performance.

Joseph Bardsley
Chair, Board of Directors
the frank theatre company

WTSCO poster

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