Familiar faces grace the stage
|By Emily Stonehouse - Contributing Writer | January 4, 2018|
On Dec. 21 and 22, the Highlands Opera Studio (HOS) staged Mishabooz’s Realm at the Northern Lights Performing Arts Pavilion in Haliburton.
It incorporated classical opera styles alongside Indigenous musical and oral traditions, and was presented in three acts: creation/overture, the creation of the Dominion of Canada, and hope for the future.
This past August, director Valerie Kuinka, and composer Andrew Balfour, spent weeks in Haliburton working on the opera. At the end of the summer, they debuted a snippet of the overall performance, offering a promise to return in the winter with a full masterpiece.
For the pre-Christmas performance, HOS collaborated with L’Atelier Lyrique de l’Opera de Montreal, featuring some of the best opera performers in North America. The familiar faces of Lauren Margison (Soprano) and Nathan Keoughan (Baritone) graced the stage in entirely new roles. The singers have been involved in HOS for years, yet in this performance they went beyond classical opera to invoke the powerful and heart-wrenching realities of Indigenous history.
Onstage with Margison and Keoughan were Balfour and Ka’Nasohon Kevin Deer, an elder from Kahnawake Mohawk Territories. The performers were accompanied by pianist Louise-Andree Baril and violinist Tara-Louise Montour, as well as talented singers from the Haliburton Choir.
From start to finish, Mishabooz’s Realm was thought-provoking, eye-opening, heartbreaking, and hopeful. As it delved into the pain and suffering of the past, while thoughtfully urging reconciliation and change for the future, Mishabooz’s Realm is a reminder that reflection, change, and growth are always welcome.
“We are excited that it has come full circle,” Kuinka said.
EMILY STONEHOUSE is a reporter for The Highlander.