The vibrant world of opera is about to be reimagined in Windsor with the arrival of “Ruckus! on the Road,” a collaborative tour featuring the innovative efforts of the city’s own Abridged Opera and the Toronto company Opera Revue. It stops at the Windsor Capitol Theatre on Friday, November 17 at 7:30 pm.
Erin Armstrong, a key figure at Abridged Opera and a native of Windsor/Essex, anticipates a warm reception for this unique operatic experience in her hometown.
“Our audiences in Windsor are always up for fun and laughter, and that’s exactly what this collaboration will bring on the 17th,” Armstrong stated. This enthusiasm for a blend of humor and opera underscores the anticipation for the upcoming performance.
When asked about the shared ethos of Abridged Opera and Opera Revue, Armstrong highlighted the mission to make opera more accessible. “These companies emerged to fill a void left by the absence of major opera houses in every city,” she explained. “We’re providing a direct connection between the artists and the audience, free from amplification, and bringing opera to the community in a very tangible way.”
Discussing the partnership with Opera Revue, Armstrong emphasized the shared values and vision. “We’ve worked closely with the founders of Opera Revue and know they bring amazing musicianship and a sense of fun that aligns perfectly with what our audiences expect,” she said. This partnership is poised to enrich the opera scene in Windsor, blending different talents and perspectives.
The fusion of talents in “Ruckus! on the Road” is something Armstrong sees as a catalyst for a memorable evening. “When talented artists come together, the potential for something truly sensational is always there,” she shared, underscoring her excitement about the combined expertise of the performers.
A crucial aspect of this tour is its approach to making opera both high-quality and accessible. “Our goal is to show that high-quality operatic performances can be accessible,” Armstrong asserted. “We employ professional artists who deliver powerful performances while making opera approachable for everyone.”
Armstrong also addressed the non-traditional approach of the tour, seeing it as an opportunity to challenge stereotypes about opera. “We’re still working against the idea that opera is stuffy and hard to understand. Every chance to present it in a fresh context helps us connect with new audiences,” she noted.
Regarding the repertoire, Armstrong playfully hinted at the inclusion of pieces familiar to Abridged Opera’s audiences, as well as some surprises. “We’re including pieces from operas we’ve done and ones we plan to do. There’s a particular piece we’re known for that involves a lot of ‘cackling’—you’ll have to guess what it is!” she teased.
Regarding her approach to the more relaxed and interactive performances of Opera Revue, Armstrong said, “I approach it the same way any voice type would, with openness and commitment. We’re focused on ensuring the audience knows what’s going on and enjoys our shenanigans onstage.”
Armstrong also hinted at the potential influence of this tour on future productions of Abridged Opera. “There’s a distinct possibility of a joint partnership in our futures. Stay tuned,” she said with a smile, suggesting exciting developments ahead.
Looking back at the inception of Abridged Opera, Armstrong credited her inspiration to a production by Windsor artist and Kordazone founder Tracy Atin. “It was ‘The Complete Works of Shakespeare Abridged,’ and it was hilarious. It sparked the idea for Abridged Opera, which took a decade to become a reality,” she recounted. The reception in Windsor/Essex has been overwhelmingly positive, a testament to the community’s support and enthusiasm for opera.
One of the major challenges faced by Abridged Opera, according to Armstrong, is funding. “Being a small start-up, securing funding for future productions is a constant battle. We have ideas, passion, know-how, and amazing support, but we still need more, especially for productions with orchestras like the Windsor Symphony,” she explained, inviting potential sponsors to support their mission.
Discussing the success of Opera Revue in Toronto, Armstrong noted, “Their online presence and consistent opera pubs are something we’re looking to emulate in Windsor. It’s a great way to reach new audiences and show them there’s a style of opera for everyone.”
Looking at the future of opera, particularly in smaller cities, Armstrong sees an evolution towards simplicity and relevance. “We’re moving away from grandeur and focusing on the essence of opera – the music and storytelling. We’re trying to show that the human experience reflected in opera is still relevant today,” she elaborated.
Looking forward to “Ruckus! on the Road,” Armstrong expressed her optimism for the audience’s takeaway at “Ruckus! on the Road.” “I hope they understand that there are independent opera companies across Ontario and Canada passionate about engaging with audiences in new and meaningful ways.”
With such insights and enthusiasm from Armstrong and the crews of both Abridged Opera and Opera Revue, “Ruckus! on the Road” promises to be an event that redefines opera for the Windsor community, blending tradition with innovation in a memorable evening of music and storytelling. For more information or tickets to the November 17th show in Windsor, visit the Capitol Theatre.