"Ivany has done a remarkable job at distilling what’s truly important and making it as fresh and relevant in Puccini’s time as it is today."

- Musical Toronto, Joseph So


featured press

Against the Grain Theatre takes Puccini on a beer-soaked road trip

The Globe and Mail - October 18, 2019

An orchestra-less, modernized, localized and English-sung version of the Puccini classic La bohème is up and running at Toronto’s Tranzac Club, where an 11-show residency is part of indie opera company Against the Grain’s groundbreaking national tour in partnership with Alberta’s Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity.


At Toronto's Against the Grain Theatre, Opera is Wildly Reimagined

National Post - April 26, 2018

In the summer of 2011, in the main hall of the ramshackle Tranzac Club in downtown Toronto, patrons milled about with pints in hand, talking and laughing in a languid humour, ready to enjoy some Puccini. This was not the sober climate one expects of a performance of La Bohème...


Opera in the 21st Century: How Toronto’s Against the Grain Theatre is Turning the Classical Form on Its Head

In Studio - Spring/Summer 2017

We are in an era where opera looks very different from the stereotypes which pervade popular culture; any fan of the genre knows that the days of large, helmet-horned women and parking-and-barking are gone. It is through partnership, and through the sharing of resources, that opera can be well represented in the twenty-first century...


How Against the Grain Changed the Opera Game with Modernized Productions in Bars, Galleries and Studios

National Post - July 21st 2016

You’d never know Joel Ivany heads up one of the most acclaimed opera companies in Canada. Clad in faded jeans and a loose, cotton t-shirt, Ivany, who is Artistic Director of the award winning, critically-lauded Against the Grain Theatre, recently chatted in Toronto’s Trinity Bellwoods Park, as stroller moms, fitness buffs and Queen West Artists walked by...


Director Joel Ivany Delivers a Production of Carmen You Can Trust

The Globe and Mail - April 08th 2016

You wouldn’t immediately cast soft-spoken, gentle Joel Ivany as a superhero, but there’s something of a Peter Parker/Spider-Man vibe about him nonetheless. By night, Ivany is the founder and one of the artistic leaders of Against the Grain Theatre, perhaps Toronto’s most creative opera producers...


These Five Torontonians Are Due For a Big 2016

thestar.com - Jan 6th 2016

Toronto’s arts and culture scene should be as vibrant as ever in the new year. But for five city residentsin particular — representing a range of disciplines from pop music and literature to art, opera and film 2016 will present an opportunity to test their skills and creativity to the max...


What is the Future of Opera in Canada?

Huffington Post -December 7th 2015

We are transitioning into a new age for opera. Those within the industry are seeing (some fearing) sweeping changes. Now more than ever, the call goes out to our generation to step up and care for this collaborative artform. All across the country, gifted young artists are no longer waiting for opportunity, but rather creating it…


Death and Desire: Mash-up Opera Breaks All the Classical Music Rules

The Globe and Mail - June 1st 2015

Joel Ivany and Christopher Mokrzewski seem like your typical latte-drinking buddies as they saunter through the coffee shop on Queen East in Toronto. Both are dressed casually, in T-shirts and jeans. Maybe they’re in tech, or working on a startup. No, film, that’s it. Commercials, maybe...


Chamberfest: Joel Ivany Reimagines Opera with #UncleJohn

Ottawa Citizen July 29th 2015

The artistic director of Toronto’s Against the Grain Theatre has built a solid reputation as a stage director and as an opera innovator. The latest example of that is Ivany’s reimagining of Mozart’s Don Giovanni as #UncleJohn, with a libretto in English, set in our twitter-pated world. Yep, that’s right. Ivany is messing with opera…


New Production, New Roles: Opera By Location

Opera Canada - Summer 2014

The proliferation over recent seasons of new companies set up by young artists with a fresh take on staging opera is one of the most intriguing developments on Canada’s opera scene. From Opera di Concertisti and Meraviglie in Vancouver through Cowtown Opera in Calgary and Metro Youth Opera in Toronto to Opera da Camera in Montreal (to name just a few)…


What Makes Messiah Endure?

theglobeandmail.com December 20th 2013

Between the Toronto Symphony, Tafelmusik, and Against the Grain Theatre, there will have been 12 performances – most sold out – of George Frederick Handel’s Messiah in Toronto by the end of the weekend. The popularity of this 18th-century oratorio seems undimmed as we sail into the 21st.What keeps us coming back to it…


Opera Updates Fail Because They Don't Go Far Enough, Not Because They Are Too Radical

Musical Toronto - May 30th 2013

Now that Against the Grain’s Figaro’s Wedding is icing the Toronto season’s operatic cake, I’d like to put in a word for directors and companies unafraid to fully remake a classic. Before the exceptionally fine Mozart-via-Joel Ivany and Christopher Mokrzewski last night the best update of a core-reperotire opera I’d seen this season was Michael Mayer’s Rat Pack early-1960s Las Vegas take on Verdi’s Rigoletto at the Metropolitan Opera...