Association for Opera in Canada Announces Finalists for New Works Pitch Pittsburgh Funded by the Azrieli Foundation and Canada Council for the Arts

The Association for Opera in Canada (AOC) is pleased to announce the finalists for the 2023 edition of  its New Canadian Works Pitch Program, which is funded by the Azrieli Foundation. This program provides an opportunity for artists, creators, and producers to discuss their works with potential producers, co-producers, co-commissioners and presenters. The finalists were selected by a jury based on artistic merit, sectoral impact, project viability, and market viability/program fit.


The finalists are as follows:


Likht Ensemble, Toronto: “Jewish Space Lasers,” a one-hour cabaret style theatrical piece exploring the experience of Jewish artists in classical music. Likht is a piano-vocal duo (Nate Ben-Horin and Jaclyn Grossman) dedicated to Jewish composers from the Holocaust. Likht Ensemble conceives “Jewish Space Lasers” as an opportunity to share exceptional music by artists silenced before their time, their personal experiences with the (often antisemitic) classical canon, and the complexity of having one foot in each musical world… all through a Jewish comedic lens.


Luka Kawabata 川端ルカ, Vancouver: “The HAFU ハーフ Project,” an art-song based autobiographical exploration of identity and disconnection from culture. As an immigrant to Canada, Luka has many direct ties to Japan. However, as a multiracial person who grew up without a Japanese community, he continues to process his understanding of his identity and the social allowance to acknowledge his culture fully. This project demonstrates the process of healing. 


Opera NUOVA, Edmonton: “Silence,” a new opera by Leslie Uyeda and Darrin Hagen. Based on Moira Buffini’s 1999 play, “Silence” is a dark comedic satirical opera about absolute power and its consequences for the powerless; it’s about our human fears and our need for freedom. By asking the audience to consider the different ways in which love can change us, Silence asks us to take agency and to embrace hope.


Rebecca Gray and Rachel Gray, with Musique 3 Femmes,  Montréal: “Raccoon Opera.” A visually innovative chamber opera that harnesses masks and projected animation sequences to explore Canada’s housing crisis through the lens of an intimate and exploitative relationship between a tenant and a raccoon.This absurd dark comedy explores millennial burnout, parasitic relationships, and the anonymity of urban life in the 21st century. This chamber opera is commissioned by Montréal’s Musique 3 Femmes, with support from the Mécénat Music Prix 3 Femmes, a national prize encouraging new opera compositions by female and non-binary creators.


We are happy to announce that Canada Council for the Arts funding through their Arts Abroad Program, is allowing the Association to expand its delegation to include two additional high-ranking candidates who strongly match the Canada Opera Brand set out in the Association’s International Business Development Strategy:


Haui, Sean Mayes and the Canadian Opera Company, Toronto: “Aportia Chryptych”: Produced by the Canadian Opera Company, Aportia Chryptych: A Black Opera for Portia White honours forgotten musical royalty relegated to the peripheries. Featuring a score synthesized of spoken word, hip-hop, jazz, R&B, and classical opera, this politically charged work seeks to unite artistic and cultural communities serving as a form of resistance, evoking memories from black history while simultaneously celebrating contemporary black culture.


Opera 5, Toronto: “Come Closer”: Music by Ryan Trew, Libretto by Rachel Krehm with poetry by Elizabeth Krehm, Dramaturgy and Direction by Amanda Smith: Come Closer explores the grief of losing a sister. Sparked by her late Little Sister’s journal, Big Sister travels through memories, and relives moments with her Little Sister in an attempt to reconnect with her and understand her more deeply. Come Closer is based on Rachel Krehm’s experience losing her sister Elizabeth Krehm to heroin addiction. It is 90 minutes and scored for 2 sopranos, piano, violin, and cello. 


Each of these artistic teams has been offered a dedicated pitching opportunity hosted by AOC at the OPERA America Conference in Pittsburgh in May 2023, professional pitch coaching from one of two professional coaches, and a bursary towards pitch preparation, travel and conference costs. 


All of the finalists’ works can be found on AOC’s Online New Works Showcase, a searchable online showcase designed to make it easy for opera programmers, co-producers, and presenters to find new works and works-in-development that meet their current strategic/audience interests. This showcase features 35 exciting new works, all of which are being offered professional coaching by the Association in fundraising, production, partnership development, and touring.


We are excited to introduce and showcase these deserving opera projects at the OPERA America Conference in Pittsburgh this May,” said Christina Loewen, Executive Director of AOC. “We believe that by promoting and spotlighting new works by equity-seeking creative teams, we help to define a unique Canadian opera identity, leading to a more diverse, productive and resilient future opera sector.”


To learn more about the New Canadian Works Showcase and the finalists, visit


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About Association for Opera in Canada:


AOC is the national association for opera in Canada. We are a membership-based association for opera companies, opera artists, businesses, teaching institutions, and individuals. We work with members across the sector to mitigate challenges, celebrate successes, and help opera thrive in a changing environment. We are a communications hub, a connector and convenor, a champion and catalyst for change, and a relentless advocate.


About Azrieli Foundation


Fulfilling the philanthropic legacy of David J. Azrieli z”l, the Azrieli Foundation has been funding institutions as well as operating programs in Israel and Canada since 1989. Driven by a strong belief in the powerful role and responsibility of philanthropy, the Foundation empowers people by supporting a broad range of organizations, facilitating innovative outcomes and increasing knowledge and understanding in the search for practical and novel solutions.


About Canada Council for the Arts


The Canada Council for the Arts contributes to the vibrancy of a creative and diverse arts and literary scene and supports its presence across Canada and around the world. The Council is Canada’s public arts funder, with a mandate to “foster and promote the study and enjoyment of, and the production of works in, the arts.” The Council’s grants, services, initiatives, prizes, and payments support Canadian artists, authors, and arts groups and organizations. This support allows them to pursue artistic expression, create works of art, and promote and disseminate the arts and literature. Through its arts funding, communications, research, and promotion activities, the Council fosters ever-growing engagement of Canadians and international audiences in the arts. The Council’s Public Lending Right (PLR) program makes annual payments to creators whose works are held in Canadian public libraries. The Council’s Art Bank operates art rental programs and helps further public engagement with contemporary arts through exhibition and outreach activities. The Council is responsible for the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, which promotes the values and programs of UNESCO to contribute to a future of peace, reconciliation, equity, and sustainable development.