Stage Door News

Toronto: “Canoe”, a new opera by Spy Dénommé-Welch, premieres September 12-16

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Unsettled Scores production, in collaboration with Native Earth Performing Arts, The Toronto Consort and Theatre Passe Muraille, will present Canoe, an all-new two-act opera that defies conventions and embraces invention from September 12-16, 2023 at Trinity St Paul’s Centre in Toronto. This intercultural production showcases the rich talents of four Indigenous singers and an ensemble of five historical instruments including the violin, cello, recorder, lute, and harpsichord.

Composed by Unsettled Scores co-founders Spy Dénommé-Welch and Catherine Magowan, and set to a story/libretto by Spy Dénommé-Welch, Canoe is a captivating tale of two sisters from Northern Ontario, their ancestral tree, and an old, but familiar, visitor from the past. Through a minimalist aesthetic, this poignant work breaks free from Eurocentric operatic structures, creating an accessible and safe space for diverse audiences to experience the transformative power of Indigenous storytelling and opera.

“It is an acknowledgment of the resilience of the human spirit with the intention of serving as a type of healing work,” said Spy Dénommé-Welch. “Many years have been spent composing the score, adding layers of meaning through music, and design, with community and artist feedback throughout the process. It has allowed us to be nimble and responsive to all elements of creation.”

In the summer of 2018 Native Earth Performing Arts granted Unsettled Scores the opportunity to experiment through the month-long Mskomini Giizis Residency. The creative team explored ways of incorporating new and old technologies to support the story’s overall arc. Canoe delivers an important message about human-to-human relationships, our relationships with the environment, ancestors and the spirit world.


September 12-16, 2023

September 12 and 13 at 8pm (Previews)

September 15 at 8pm (Opening Night)

September 16 at 2pm (Audio Description & Post show Q&A)

September 16 at 8pm

Trinity St. Paul’s Centre

427 Bloor Street West in Toronto


Unsettled Scores creates and produces musical and theatrical works that explore and reflect difficult Canadian and global histories, while being relevant to contemporary issues and subject matter. Unsettled Scores was co-founded in 2006 by Dr. Spy Dénommé-Welch (Indigenous Algonquin-Anishnaabe) and Catherine Magowan (Hungarian-Jewish), and together they have created and produced solo, chamber, orchestral and opera pieces, as well as theatrical and multimedia work.