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IndieFest features three operas by Madeleine Thien and Alice Ping Ye Ho, Omari Newton and Amy Lee Lavoie, and re:Naissance

opera Madeliene Thien
Celebrated novelist Madeleine Thien wrote the libretto for Chinatown. Photo by SFU.

Composing an opera ranks as one of the most challenging artistic pursuits. One musical master, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, put it this way in a letter to his brother Leopold: “I can’t write much, because writing so many parts of the opera has made my fingers painful.”

Yet this pain hasn’t dissuaded artistic luminaries living in Vancouver or who with deep roots in the city. This will be apparent when the fourth annual IndieFest presents Future Mythologies at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday (November 25) at the Annex (823 Seymour Street).

It’s billed as a “celebration of new operas that are reimagining the future of storytelling”. Booker Prize shortlisted novelist and Scotiabank Giller Prize winner Madeliene Thien will reveal text excerpts from Chinatown in advance of a future full staging. With music written by Alice Ping Ye Ho and the libretto by Thien, City Opera premiered it in concert last year at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre.

The Montreal-based Thien was born and raised in Vancouver. Her most recent novel, Do Not Say We Have Nothing, was released in 2016 to global acclaim.

Future Mythologies will also showcase Omari Newton and Amy Lee Lavoie’s Inferno, which is billed as a hip-hop opera. Newton is a well-known Vancouver theatre, film, and TV artists whose acting credits include Black Panther. His wife, Lavoie, is an award-winning playwright.

XR creates digital twin of real opera stage

The third featured production is re:Naissance Opera’s VR opera Eurydice Fragments. According to the Opera Beyond website, XR “concentrates on solving quality and scheduling problems in the design and planning work of performing arts productions by introducing a new online, remote workspace”.

“The scope of the project is to create a fully functional digital twin of the real stage, integrate it to lighting and technical stage operation systems, and create a toolset for sketching and trialing the set and scenes, pre-program lights and have a dry-run for the changes,” Opera Beyond states.

“By enabling the simulation of artistic designs in a virtual world, the tool will enhance the efficiency of production work and improve communication between the various stakeholders such as directors, set designers, lighting designers and producers.”

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Charlie Smith

Charlie Smith

Pancouver editor Charlie Smith has worked as a Vancouver journalist in print, radio, and television for more than three decades.

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We would like to acknowledge that we are gathered on the traditional and unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. With this acknowledgement, we thank the Indigenous peoples who still live on and care for this land.