L-R: Soprano Eva Tavares as Cecilia, and Canadian-Asian Mezzo-Soprano Emma Parkinson as Gabriella in Did I Just Say That?
L-R: Emma Parkinson, Perri Lo (piano), Eva Tavares
SYNOPSIS: A friendship is tested when two roommates – a racialized writer and a white composer – debate whether to apply to an opera competition for women. The 20-minute comedic work pokes fun at the operatic genre, including a “diva-off” that references music from classic arias – Carmen, Butterfly, Aida, Turandot – as the friends battle over problematic operatic portrayals of racialized women. Inspired by a real-life competition, the piece explores themes of feminism, racial intersectionality, #MeToo, and the experiences of BIPOC artists in the operatic milieu when engaging with traditional roles and structures. And yes, it's funny!
Update: February 4, 2022
On October 30, 2021, following a second development workshop, our chamber operetta, Did I Just Say That?, was presented for one performance only at the Annex Theatre (Vancouver) to a COVID-cautious but enthusiastic audience as part of re:Naissance Opera's IndieFest.
With music by Katerina Gimon, libretto and direction by Valerie Sing Turner, dramaturgy by Debi Wong, stage management by Xin Xuan Song, and wonderfully moving performances by Canadian-Asian mezzo-soprano Emma Parkinson, soprano Eva Tavares, and musical director/pianist Perri Lo, the 20-minute comic operetta was immediately followed by a lively panel discussion with the creative team and IndieFest's artist-in-residence, Toronto-based soprano Teiya Kasahara, and moderated by Debi.
L-R: Debi Wong, Teiya Kasahara, Perri Lo, Emma Parkinson, Eva Tavares, Valerie Sing Turner, Katerina Gimon
We are also excited to announce that we are now partnering with re:Naissance Opera for the animated film adaptation of Did I Just Say That?, with confirmed funding from Canada Council, BC Arts Council, and CreativeBC! We're in the throes of pre-production, organizing the soundtrack recording as well as the animation process. To be co-directed by Valerie and Debi, who is also re:Naissance's Artistic Director, with Visceral Visions' Associate Producer, Anju Singh, as Producer. More details to come!
L-R: Valerie Sing Turner (librettist), Debi Wong (dramaturg), Kat Gimon (composer)
Update: July 2021
Thanks to the BC Arts Council, Visceral Visions and re:Naissance Opera have co-commissioned Valerie Sing Turner as librettist and Katerina Gimon as composer for a new comedic chamber operetta with the working title, Did I just Say That?
The 15-minute piece will feature a "diva-off" between two female characters – a writer of colour and a white composer (yup, it's definitely meta!) – while they debate the lack of diversity in the classic opera canon, and figure out how to collaborate while being true to themselves.
In November 2020, just one day before Dr. Bonnie Henry restricted non-essential travel from the lower mainland, Valerie, Katerina, and Debi Wong, Artistic Director of re:Naissance and project dramaturg, landed on the Sunshine Coast for a week-long creation residency. We needed to kill a little time before we could check into our retreat accommodation, so we were happy to stumble upon a beer farm, run by the Persephone craft brewing company in Gibsons. Happy to report that the weather, location, team, and creative process were all beautifully fun!
We look forward to workshopping the first draft with singers Emma Parkinson and Eva Tavares at The Post on August 6-7, with the opportunity for further rewrites before our presentation at re:Naissance Opera's #IndieFest the last week of October 2021. Stay tuned for more announcements!