Stage Door News

Toronto: CBC will broadcast Tapestry Opera’s “Rocking Horse Winner” on December 26

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Tapestry Opera’s critically acclaimed, multi award-winning opera Rocking Horse Winner, by Anna Chatterton and Gareth Williams, will be broadcast on CBC Music’s Saturday Afternoon at the Opera on Boxing Day. The Rocking Horse Winner cast album, recorded during the COVID-19 pandemic and starring Asitha Tennekoon, Lucia Cesaroni, Keith Klassen and Peter McGillivray, is also available to purchase starting today.

Rocking Horse Winner will make its broadcast premiere on CBC Music’s Saturday Afternoon at the Opera on December 26, shared with 300,000 listeners across the country.

The Rocking Horse Winner cast album, recorded live in July 2020 in Tapestry Opera’s Ernest Balmer Studio in Toronto’s Distillery Historic District, is available to purchase starting today from the company’s website,

The award-winning production of Rocking Horse Winner was due to be remounted for Tapestry’s 40th Anniversary Season in April 2020. The Toronto-based opera company pivoted quickly when the world abruptly locked down in the face of COVID-19, moving strategically during the early months of the pandemic to refit the Ernest Balmer Studio as a fully functional and rentable recording studio.  

The broadcast and album were made possible by Tapestry staff by training themselves in remote collaboration, and Music Director Kamna Gupta conducted the work remotely, using new technologies.

In April 2020 as most performing arts companies were cancelling contracts, Tapestry kept its artists paid by converting to a digital remote rehearsal process with the goal of recording the work, rather than cancel the production outright. This change of course provided both revenue and an artistic lifeline during the uncertainty in the arts sector earlier in the year. 

“We are closing this year with hope and artistry, which is needed more than ever. Back in March we made a public commitment to keep our artists paid and find new ways to make art, which prompted a total re-think of how we rehearse and produce. By being willing to explore unknown territory, we found a silver lining: Rocking Horse Winner will now reach many more people than it would have on stage." Michael Hidetoshi Mori, Director of Rocking Horse Winner and Artistic and General Director of Tapestry Opera

Based on a short story of the same title by D.H. Lawrence, Rocking Horse Winner is a powerful one-act opera that combines elements of magical realism and lyrical minimalism to tell the story of a woman Ava, and her son Paul. Their house, and a rocking horse, whisper words that only Paul can hear. When the voice of the house grows more urgent in whispering “there must be more money,” Paul enlists his lucky rocking horse to tell him the names of live horse race winners. He begins betting with great success, but each win comes at an enormous cost.

Featuring an evocative score by Irish composer Gareth Williams and a libretto by Canadian playwright Anna Chatterton, this intimate, psychologically insightful look at love, luck, and greed received 9 Dora Mavor Moore Award nominations and 5 awards in 2017, including Outstanding Male Performance by Asitha Tennekoon, Outstanding Lighting Design by Michelle Ramsay, Outstanding Ensemble, Outstanding Direction by Michael Hidetoshi Mori, and Outstanding Production.

Photo: Rocking Horse Winner album cover. © 2020 Angie Caunce and Jenni Grandfield.