Stage Door News

Toronto: FAWN Chamber Creative presents a new opera/ballet “Pandora” May 23-25

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Known for their creative curiosity with productions that draw inspiration from the city’s underground art and music scenes, FAWN Chamber Creative’s penchant for exploration finds its newest expression in an opera-ballet, Pandora, which will be presented at 8pm on May 23, 24 and 25, 2019 at Geary Lane in Toronto.

Pandora was written by librettist David James Brock (Toronto, ON) with music composed by David Storen (Vancouver, BC), Joseph Glaser (Montreal, QC) and Kit Soden (Montreal, QC). The story centres around the development of a character, played by tenor Jonathan MacArthur, who stumbles upon an object and quickly gets drawn into what, and who, is inside. The piece will be directed by FAWN’s Founder and Artistic Director Amanda Smith, who is known for her visceral and visually compelling productions. Reflecting on this production’s new take on an ancient tale, Smith observes: “Although this piece isn’t directly about the myth, I imagine that in Pandora we see what happens when the jar, or box, is opened a second time. Hope and good shoots out from a place of isolation and is now mixing in with the darkness that was previously released. The result we see is humanity, with its raw contradictions and complexities.”

Smith has assembled an exciting creative team to work with her to bring this interpretation to life, including choreographer Jennifer Nichols, set designer Holly Meyer-Dymny, lighting designer Oz Weaver, costume designer Tosca Delfino, projection designer Omar David Rivero and makeup designer Erica Jeffery. Adam Scime will be the musical director for the production and will lead the ensemble comprised of Rob MacDonald on electric guitar, Amahl Arulanandam on cello, Darren Creech on piano, Kishan Chouhan on bassoon, Nathan Pepitas on percussion, and electronics. Pandora’s cast is composed of some of Canada’s most intriguing and vibrant performers including soprano Teiya Kasahara; tenor Jonathan MacArthur; baritones Aaron Durand and Andrew Adridge; dancers Jennifer Nichols and Tyler Gledhill.

The unconventional production process of Pandora began three years ago at FAWN’s performance of Synesthesia IV – Sound & Body, involving an original dance-theatre piece with works by six Canadian composers selected by Smith from a general call for submissions. At the end of this performance, the diverse and eclectic audience members were asked to anonymously vote for the three composers they most wanted FAWN to collaborate with on a new opera-ballet: Storen, Glaser and Soden were chosen. They were invited to join FAWN in a week-long opera-creation workshop wherein improvisation and exploration were the central focus. Each of them were brought together with Pandora’s librettist as well as members of the performance and creative teams. The goal was to improvise, discuss and explore musical, movement and dramatic ideas with each composer, with the purpose of providing inspirational material for the librettist and composers to write their pieces. Shortly after, Brock created three new librettos that demonstrated strong conceptual links to the workshop. 

Describing the creative process by which he arrived at his libretto, he comments, “This was an entirely new experience for me, knowing who I was working with before I knew what I'd be writing. Because of the devised creation model FAWN was exploring, I felt a responsibility to ensure the libretti honoured the work and relationships that came out of the week. The writing process can often feel solitary, but in crafting these stories with the composers, I think we all felt the energy and voices of that first week at every turn. I can now hear it radiating in the music. If I wasn't acutely aware that this was part of Amanda's design and vision for the process, I would say it's been pretty magical.”

In June 2018, the first drafts of the scores were workshopped with FAWN during which time team decided to unify these pieces into one full-length opera-ballet with Brock’s text and music by all three composers. This May, FAWN is excited to premiere the operatic creation that resulted from this collaborative process in a production that promises to live outside the boundaries of the operatic experience.

The composite score of Pandora is being dedicated to the late Roger D. Moore. FAWN will remain ever grateful for the longtime support he provided to them, including, but not exclusive to, funding their very first concert as well as their production of chamber opera l’homme et le ciel by composer Adam Scime and librettist Ian Koiter.

General admission is $45, and $35 for arts workers and people 30 and under. Learn more on the Facebook event page.

FAWN Chamber Creative is a Toronto-based new music and opera collective, dedicated to creating and presenting new Canadian classical compositions that showcases intersections between art forms and attracts diverse audiences through a variety of inter-disciplinary productions.

Visit to learn more about the company.

Pandora – a new opera-ballet
May 23, 24 and 25, 2019
Doors open at 7:30 PM
Show at 8 PM
Geary Lane (360 Geary Ave, Toronto)

$35 arts workers & 30 or under / $45 regular

Tickets available at:

More info:

Photo: Jonathan MacArthur. © 2019 Francesca Chudnoff.