DIGITAL PRESS KIT
WELCOME! SEE BELOW FOR BIOS AND AUDIO!
7:30 pm SATURDAY MARCH 19 2022
5:00 pm SUNDAY MARCH 20, 2022
At COLLEGE ST. UNITED CHURCH
452 College St. W., Toronto.
$40 Cash at the door
$20 Students Online
$20 for Students
IN A TALE FROM THE AGE OF LEGEND, THE MOST CHIVALROUS KING OF THE MIDDLE-AGES – KING RICHARD I THE LION HEART – HAS BEEN CAPTURED BY THE VENGEFUL DUKE LEOPOLD OF AUSTRIA, AND IMPRISONED IN THE FOREBODING CASTLE DÜRNSTEIN WHERE HE MUST COMPETE IN FEATS OF STRENGTH WITH THE OAFISH WALO, RESIST THE AFFECTIONS OF THE FAIR MIRELLA, AND SURVIVE A LION-HEARTED CHALLENGE.
CAN HE ENDURE LONG ENOUGH TO BE FOUND BY HIS LOYAL BARD?
"In the Lion Heart, culled from Medieval legend, Kyle McDonald conjures a tale in lush, classical poetry that ennobles, but also seems fresh and contemporary, with characters that we at once recognize in our lives today: the cheeky dare-devil, the sensitive soul, the braggart, and the overbearing parent. The English libretto is meticulously shaped to offer maximal drama with minimal bloat, and gallops with grace without sacrificing form as the heroic King is captured, imprisoned, and forced to confront a rabid lion – and the consequences of his own daring.
Corey Arnold's score, arranged for 15 instruments, is carefully calibrated to offer the most expansive and flexible sound with the least effort, and draws on the most successful and far-reaching contemporary musical influences found in film and video games. With an astonishing sensitivity to the subtleties of the human love of melody and harmony, he’s created a soundscape that’s sure to leave audiences humming all the way home."
RICHARD I the Lion-Heart..............Kyle McDonald
BLONDEL de Nesles.........................Tonatiuh Abrego
LEOPOLD, an Austrian Duke...........Andrew Derynck
MIRELLA, his daughter....................Nicole Dubinsky
WALO, his loutish son......................John Kirby
CAPTAIN of the guards....................Andrew Tees
Male CHORUS, soldiers of the Duke: Alvaro Vazquez, Jospeh Wong, César Bello, Dylan Wright.
The action takes place at castle Dürnstein in Austria, 1193.
Violin I - Aysel Taghi-Zada
Violin II - Jeimmi Carrasco
Viola - Rae Gallimore
Cello I - Samuel Bisson
Cello II - Peter Ryan
Dbl Bass - Connor Crone
Flute - Tristan Durie
Oboe - Ron Cohen Mann
Clarinet - Peter Stoll
Bassoon - Sheba Thibideau
Horn - Gilles Thibodeau
Trumpet - Tristan Tye
Trombone - Paul Tarussov
Percussion- Naoko Tsujita
The Hand My Enemies Despised -
Richard, act II
TRUE LOVE DESCENDS UPON THE BRAVE -
Blondel, act I
Vocalist - Cian Horrobin
O MIRELLA, FORTUNE FLEERS AT YOU-
Mirella, act I
TODAY YOU ARE VICTORIOUS-
Leopold, act III
Come! Challenge me Again! -
Richard, act III
TO PAWN MY HONOUR IS DEFEAT -
act I FINALE
Say Walo Then Instead of Dread -
Walo, Act II
THE STRUGGLES OF THE DAY ARE DONE! -
Richard and Blondel, Act III
COREY ARNOLD - Conductor, Composer
Corey Arnold is a young operatic tenor and composer with a vision for the future of opera. A recent laureate of the Jeunes Ambassadeurs Lyriques, a semi-finalist at the International Singing Competition of Marmande (France), the Vincero World Italian Opera Competition, and a finalist in the Clifford Poole Vocal Competition, and the composer of two new operas in the past two years… Corey has kept busy!
A regular on the operatic stage, Corey has been seen recently as Roméo in ROMÉO ET JULIETTE and Pinkerton in MADAMA BUTTERFLY with Pellegrini Opera, Il Duca in RIGOLETTO in concert with the Cambridge Symphony Orchestra, and Calaf in TURANDOT with La Belle Voix in Ottawa. Corey has also worked extensively with Opera by Request: Pinkerton in MADAMA BUTTERFLY, Mario Cavaradossi in TOSCA, and the Italian Singer in CAPRICCIO. Spring 2022 will have Corey singing Qidan in the brilliant new opera pastiche “Conan and the Stone of Kelior.”
Also active in concert work, Corey has sung frequently with Operottawa, most recently for their Opera Gala evening as well as their Handel’s Messiah. He has sung as tenor soloist for Musica Viva, Caelis Academy, and Coro Vivo Ottawa, singing various Haydn and Mozart Masses including the Lord Nelson Mass and the Theresienmesse. While a student of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Corey was immediately humbled at the raw talent of some of the best young singers of a generation. While he was comfortable in a variety of musical disciplines, including composition, conducting, arranging, and accompanying (at the piano) he was inspired by his peers to focus his time on the pursuit of extraordinary singing. This brought him to the
pedagogical worlds of Linklater Voice Technique, Lessac Kinesensics, and the Feldenkrais Method of Somatic Education, the latter in which he became a practitioner. He continued his exploration during his time at the University of Ottawa and beyond working with various regional opera companies. Most recently, Corey has begun auditioning in various venues in Europe and hopes to expand his singing horizons there.
As a composer, Corey finished his first musical at 18 years old as part of the Oberlin Playwright Festival. In the ensuing years, arranging for jazz bands, choirs, and musical theatre productions were his primary output. Now, he dedicates his time to new operatic and classical vocal works. Most recently, his piece “Si ce n’est pas l’amour…” was premiered by Théâtre Belvédère in Ottawa. He is currently preparing a workshop performance of his first opera “The Lion Heart,” as well as an opera for families “The Bat and the Bells,” both with libretti by Kyle McDonald. In the works are a song cycle with Californian poet, Tyler Knott Gregson, a piano concerto, and his next operatic work, a horror opera involving demonic possession, with a libretto by Kyle McDonald. Corey has also worked as a pianist, music directing/accompanying musicals and operas in Ottawa, Toronto, Detroit, Oberlin, Elyria, and Lorain County.
KYLE MCDONALD - Bass (Richard I), Librettist
Kyle McDonald is a Toronto based actor, writer, singer, director, and producer; he studied Theatre and Drama Studies at the University of Toronto and Sheridan College joint program, and has an HBA in Theatre and Drama and a minor in Classical History. Vocally, he trained with the late Donna Sherman, with Helga Tucker at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, and with Operatic legend Maria Pellegrini.
Kyle just recently sang the roles of Timur in Turandot, Basilio in The Barber of Seville, Friar Lawrence and the Prince in Gounod's Romeo et Juliette, Angelotti, in Tosca, James Bond in James Bond: A Convenient Lie, the Marquis of St. Evermonde in the world premiere of an opera based on A Tale of Two Cities with Summer Opera Lyric Theatre, and Sparafucile in Pellegrini Opera’s production of Rigoletto. Some of his other operatic roles include Colline in Puccini's La Boheme, and Plunkett in Flotow’s Martha.
In the Theatre, some of his favourite roles include The Head in Macbeth's Head, Hamlet in Hamlet Live, Clint in The Market, Cassio in Othello, and Romeo in Romeo and Juliet.
In the world of film and television, Kyle has most recently appeared on season four of The Handmaid’s Tale as a Commander, on season fourteen of Murdoch Mysteries as the dandy Courtney Van Doren, his short film Street Smarts, the feature film The Market (which is currently streaming on Amazon Prime), the short films Insight (developed and produced by the RTA School of Media) and Phoenix, and co-starred in the short films The Car, and Made in Paris, (both of which were selected for the short-corner at Cannes); on television, he’s appeared as Lord Dunbar on Reign, and as the Dog Mocker on a new musical series for the web called Haunted. He's also appeared as Nyuk Nyuk on the pilot for a three camera sit-com called Space Bacon, the super badie Azul in Connor Undercover 2 on Family Channel on demand, and Lieutenant Tannis on the award winning web series, Space Janitors, as well as Tom on the webseries Ryan Gosling Must Be Stopped.
As a producer Kyle has apprenticed under Canadian legend Dale Barnes, and has produced several stage productions – Macbeth’s Head (NNNN- Now Magazine), James Bond: A Convenient Lie, The Market (co-producer), and Hamlet Live (co-producer), which was live-streamed to Sick Kids’ hospitals across the country (a Canadian first) – several short films – How to Be More Inclusive, Revenge for the Duchess of Malfi (co-produced), Movies Matter, The Car (co-produced), and Street Smarts – two webseries – This is Bill, and Actorapists – and line produced on the feature film The Market. He was recently a finalist in the Innoversity Summit Pitch Competition for one of his digital series, Gamers Anonymous. His two new operas – The Lion Heart, and Conan and the Stone of Kelior will be premiering in 2022.
In the world of voice over, in addition to numerous commercial appearances, he has most recently played Laurence Fishbowl in the animated feature Gracie & Pedro, the Scotiabank popcorn astronaut in Cineplex Theatres, the villainous Cornacabra in Finish Line Games’ puzzle video game Maize, George Washington and Vice President on the Emmy Award winning animated series Peg + Cat, Yoshio on Beyblades, Taylean on Bakugan Brawlers IV, and Metazor on Skatoony, as well as Dyson on the Lost Girl motion comic (nominated for a Gemini), was the voice for the Evergreen charitable organization on the radio public service announcement called Trees, which won the Crystal award from the Radio Marketing Bureau for best PSA, and was also the voice for Condom T.O. which picked up a bronze award at the Epica award show in Amsterdam.
As a writer, he’s been produced as a playwright (Macbeth’s Head, Don Juan: An Episode), and screenwriter (Street Smarts, This is Bill, Revenge for the Duchess of Malfi, Movies Matter, Actorapists, The Car, Gamers Anonymous), and written librettos for three operas, The Lion Heart, The Bat & the Bells, Possession (music composed by Corey Arnold), and created the book and score for two new operas in pasticcio: James Bond: A Convenient Lie, and, his newest creation, Conan and the Stone of Kelior, which will be staged May 5-15 2022 in Toronto. He was awarded the Winning Writer’s War Poetry award for The Rose Of Ilium, a poem composed in heroic couplets that tells of the doomed love between Achilles and Penthesilea, and he’s recently completed his novel length epic poem, The Blessèd, which can be found here as a fully scored and foleyed audiobook.
He's also recently completed his first Synthwave album called Machine City, a not so optimistic musical journey into a future with autonomous AI. Link on the Mightier Productions landing page.
*Appearing courtesy of Canadian Actors Equity Association
TONATIUH ABREGO - Tenor (Blondel)
Winner of the St. Andrew's council of the arts International Aria Competition, Tenor, Tonatiuh Abrego has performed across Canada as a leading artist.
He is a graduate of the Calgary Opera Emerging Artist program and a grant recipient from Jeunesses Musicales du Canada. Previous credits include, Romeo in Romeo and Juliet from Jeunesses Musicales touring production; Maurizio in Adriana Lecouvreur (Voicebox Opera), Male Chorus in The Rape of Lucretia as well as The Witch in Hansel and Gretel, both with Calgary Opera; Nemorino in Opera York's production of L’Elisir d’amore, Count Almaviva in Capital City Operas production of Il barbiere di Sviglia, Don Ottavio and Mr. Craven in The Banff Centre’s Opera productions of Don Giovanni and The Secret Garden and Scaramuccio and Tanzmeister in Opera Nuova’s production of Ariadne auf Naxos. Tonatiuh recently made his debut in the United States as Frederick in Opera North's production of Pirates of Penzance.
Orpheus; Orpheus in the Underworld – Toronto Operetta Theatre, Tenor Soloist; Haydn Nelson Mass – Mississauga Chamber Choir
*Appearing courtesy of Canadian Actors Equity Association
ANDREW DERYNCK - Tenor (Leopold)
Tenor Andrew Derynck hails from the small farming community of Jeanettes Creek, Ontario.
Andrew completed the Emerging Artist program at Calgary Opera after receiving his Opera diploma and his Bachelor of Music at Wilfrid Laurier University. Past highlights include Rodolfo in La Boheme (Brott Opera), Father in Ghost Opera, Borsa in Rigoletto, King Kaspar in Amahl and the Night Visitors, Benvolio in Roméo et Juliette (Calgary Opera), and Hoffmann in Les contes d’Hoffmann (Opera Laurier). Andrew was a Western Canada district winner in the 2021 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.
Fb Andrew Derynck Tenor
*Appearing courtesy of Canadian Actors Equity Association
NICOLE DUBINKSY - Coloratura Soprano (Mirella)
Ms. Dubinsky has been praised for her “warm, engaging soprano voice and excellent, nuanced dramatic presentation” (Weill Music Institute).
Currently, Ms. Dubinsky is looking forward to recording and premiering as Mirella in THE LION HEART, a new original opera written by Corey Arnold and Kyle McDonald. As a founding member and contributor to OPERA SUSTENIDA, she continues to perform celebrated arias, duets, and ensembles in the groups’ ticketed Virtual Concert Series!
In 2019-2021 seasons, Ms. Dubinsky was thrilled to sing Lucy in Toronto City Opera’s video broadcast of Menotti’s THE TELEPHONE! She was invited to share the stage with the Paskke String Quartet in concert and was delighted to perform as Olympia/Giulietta/Antonia in Toronto City Opera’s production of LES CONTES D’HOFFMANN.
Ms. Dubinsky has sung the Queen of the Night with Opera York, Premiere Productions Ottawa, the Accademia Europea dell’Opera in Amsterdam, and in Opera Laurier’s 100th Anniversary Production.
“Nicole Dubinsky nailed the Queen of the Night’s treacherous coloratura with aplomb” (Opera Canada).
Additional roles include Gretel in the Toronto Opera Initiative’s production of HӒNSEL UND GRETEL, Cleopatra (GIULIO CESARE), Mademoiselle Silvertone (IMPRESSARIO) for the Grand Opening of the Milton Centre for the Arts, Zerlina in DON GIOVANNI, Susanna (LE NOZZE DI FIGARO), Diane in ORPHÉE AUX ENFERS with L’Opera de Périgord, Sandrina in LA FINTA GIARDINIERA, Soprano Soloist in Händel’s MESSIAH with the Bach Elgar Chamber Orchestra and the Kincardine Summer Music Festival, and Sister Constance in DIALOGUES OF THE CARMELITES.
She has performed with Tapestry New Opera 101, The National Vocal Arts Institute, Accademia Europea dell’Opera, performed as Arcady’s Emerging Artist (culminating with the interpretation of an original work, written for her, by Ronald Beckett), and sang in a series of concerts with Orchestra London; also singing the role of Susanna (LE NOZZE DI FIGARO) in the Orchestra’s school tour.
Ms. Dubinsky holds a MMus in Voice Performance and Literature from the University of Western Ontario, an Opera Diploma, & an Honours BMus in Voice Performance from Wilfrid Laurier University.
JOHNATHON KIRBY - Bass-Baritone (Walo)
“His total command of the stage made it impossible to look away from him”
(Opera Canada), “…with virility in his sound and exhaustive energy in his movements…
his singing is the best I’ve heard” (Schmopera).
Johnathon Kirby is a bass-baritone from Newmarket, Ontario who is building a national reputation for his vocal skill, stage presence and energetic enthusiasm. In 2018 he received critical acclaim and a DORA nomination for best performance of an individual as Figaro in Opera Five’s production of Barber of Seville.
You can see him next as Guglielmo in Cosi fan tutte with Opera Nova Scotia. www.JohnathonKirby.com
*Appearing courtesy of Canadian Actors Equity Association
ANDREW TEES - Bass-Baritone (Captain)
Andrew Tees has sung across Canada the U.S and Europe. His stage roles include Germont ,Escamillo Figaro, Don Giovanni, Marcello, Gianni Schicchi, and Scarpia. Theatre roles include Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, Sky Masterson in Guys & Dolls.
His oratorio repertoire includes Handel’s Messiah, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Carmina Burana and Requiems by Mozart, Brahms, Faure, and Verdi.
A natural at pops repertoire, Andrew has sung with the Toronto Symphony, National Arts Center Orchestra, Hamilton Philharmonic to name but a few.
*Appearing courtesy of Canadian Actors Equity Association
Mexican Tenor Alvaro Vazquez graduated from the Glenn Gould School of the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto obtaining a Voice performance diploma.
Alvaro performed the role of Ajax II from the opera La Belle Helene for the school’s annual spring opera conducted by Uri Mayer at Koerner Hall. He was cast as the Miller, the lead role in the opera El Gato con Botas by Xavier Monsalvatge for the Glenn Gould School Fall Opera conducted by Peter Tifenbach. He made his debut with Mississauga Symphony Orchestra and Opera York singing the role of El Remendado from the opera Carmen by Bizet conducted by Denis Mastromonaco.
Most recently he performed for the Windermere village festival of the arts in Muskoka as a Tenor soloist in a recital of Opera, Zarzuela and Art Song and sang Gastone in Opera York’s and Mississauga Symphony Orchestra production of La Traviata
ALVARO VAZQUEZ - Tenor (Soldier)
JOSEPH WONG - Tenor (Soldier)
Joseph Wong, tenor, has played Gherardo in Gianni Schicchi and Venditore in Il Tabarro with Summer Opera Lyric Theatre (SOLT) during 2019.
In 2018, with Opera By Request, Joseph performed as Monostatos, Priest and Armoured Man in Die Zauberflöte by Mozart.
With SOLT, he has played as Gastone in La Traviata by Puccini, Guillot in Manon by Massenet, Apollo in Semele by Handel and Don Basilio in The Marriage of Figaro by Mozart. He has also performed in the chorus of Toronto Operetta Theatre, and is excited to get back on stage.
CÉSAR BELLO - Baritone (Soldier)
Cesar Bello is a Mexican-Canadian baritone who started his vocal training in Mexico and in 2009 he continued his studies in Italy.
He has performed in the most prestigious theaters and concert halls in Mexico, Italy and Canada.
His repertoire includes L’elisir d’Amore by Donizetti as Belcore, La Passione secondo Marco by Perosi, Choral Fantasy by Beethoven, Cavalleria Rusticana by Mascagni as Alfio, Pagliacci by Leoncavallo as Tonio and Silvio, Barbiere di Siviglia by Rossini as Figaro and Fiorello, Carmen by Bizet as Morales, Don Giovanni by Mozart as Masetto, Rigoletto by Verdi as Ceprano, Carmina Burana by Orff, Symphony No. 9 by Beethoven, Requiem by Fauré, Requiem by Mozart. In Canada he sang La Serva Padrona by Pergolesi,La Boheme by Puccini as Schaunard and Romeo et Juliette by Gounod as Mercutio.
DYLAN WRIGHT - Bass-Baritone (Soldier)
Originally from Calgary, AB, bass-baritone Dylan Wright has been praised for “seducing the audience with his rich, sonorous voice” (Beat Magazine) and is a graduate of the Atelier Lyrique de l'Opéra de Montréal.
Before the world closed, he sang Fasolt and Hagen in Berlin Wagner Gruppe and Opera by Request’s full concert production of Wagner’s Ring Cycle, the four Villains in Toronto City Opera’s ‘Les Contes D’Hoffmann’, the Bonze and the Imperial Commissioner in Windsor Symphony Orchestra’s ‘Madama Butterfly’, and created the roles of Sherman Booth and Thomas Montgomery in the new opera ‘Joshua’ by Colin Mendez Morris with ArsMusica. Dylan’s other operatic highlights include Mephistopheles in ‘Faust’,
the titular role in ‘Don Pasquale’, Dulcamara in ‘L’elisir d’amore’, the title role and Bartolo in ‘Le nozze di Figaro’ and Leporello and Il Commendatore in ‘Don Giovanni’, Seneca in ‘L’incoronazione di Poppea’, Colline in ‘La Boheme’, Rocco in ‘Fidelio’, Frère Laurent in ‘Roméo et Juliette’, and Cadmus and Somnus in ‘Semele’. Dylan has also performed as the soloist in such oratorios as the Mozart Requiem, Handel’s ‘Messiah’, Haydn’s ‘Die Schöpfung’, and Beethoven’s ‘Mass in C Major’ as well as in musical theatre as Emile de Becque in South Pacific.
He holds a MMus in Opera from the University of Toronto and currently studies with Jason Howard.
First off, what inspired you to write this story? And Second, why an opera?
KYLE: I was reading a history of the third Crusade – which is one of the most impressive and intense campaigns in history with two of the most titanic leaders, Richard I and Saladin – and after these two Kings had battled each other into a stalemate (almost friendship even), it was time for Richard to go home. He met with more adventures on the way home which ended up seeing him imprisoned in Austria, then Germany for some of his antics during the campaign. This is the period that Robin Hood explores – King John seized the throne in the Lion Heart’s absence and ran the place into the ground.
During this period there was a bunch of legends that sprung up about the Lion Heart: that his minstrel, Blondel, sang through the countryside in an attempt to locate him, that he played Pluck Buffet (exchanging punches) with a Duke’s mighty son, and weathered the affections of a young noblewoman. The most impressive of all was an account of him fighting a lion! Here was a story that was intimate enough for the stage and didn’t require the effects of a film, but was inherently musical, so, I decided to make it an opera. Musical Theatre just wouldn’t have been the right fit with the poetry. It was my first opera.
COREY: I had always dreamed of writing operas, but it was always difficult to know where to begin, nevermind face up to the task of creating something that could compare to the brilliance and complexity of my favourite operas. When Kyle brought this to me, I had already written a few musicals, done some orchestration for jazz bands, and done some arranging for various church functions, but I still wasn't sure what I wanted to do about this. He was very persistent, checking in though I often hadn't touched it. Though initially I felt really ouut of place, as my musical imagination grew and matured, inspired by an increasing familiarity and appreciation for the text, it became clear that this was something I was meant to do.
You said Kyle brought you the project: when and how did that happen?
COREY: We were singing on a production of Tosca in Ottawa and we had a lot of backstage time, so we got to talking.
KYLE: I noticed how exceptional a musician he was, so I thought he’d be right guy for the job. Plus, at that point, the libretto (script) had been sitting around on my shelf for over 10 years!
What makes The Lion Heart different from other operas?
COREY: I always knew that if I wrote an opera, I would want to bring all of my love of opera to a modern audience by allowing my musical imagination to combine opera and modern film/video game scores. Musically I’ve tried to tap into the motifs and feel of modern movie scores, but, I’ve also been careful to avoid making the voice just another instrument, which so often happens in a lot of new operas: the singer will either be drowned out by competing orchestration, or will blend in to a sound scape without direction or melody. Kyle was adamant about writing music that people could easily hum after leaving the show.
KYLE: That’s right. The orchestration is still complex and nuanced, but it sounds like it’s simple, and that’s the true challenge. This opera is also different because it’s in English! No sur-titles needed. I also believe we have the only lion fight in the canon, though, an opera historian might be able to set the record straight on that.
So, what can people expect when they come to the show?
KYLE: First of all, they can expect to have fun: the show moves quickly and the characters are charming – no crooning here. They can also expect to be moved to compassion, and hope: the latter is especially needed these days. So much of the work out there is dystopian and drab, but we’ve decided to reinvigorate the scene with something triumphal and full of hope.
We’re starting out with an in-concert performance: we want to hear audience feedback before we start moving towards a full production. If we can entrance our audience with just the music and acting, then we know we’re on to something. So, they can expect delightful performances by some of Toronto’s most dedicated up and coming, and established, singers.
COREY: They can also expect an orchestra! Thanks to a generous grant from the Canadian government, we’re going to be able to perform the piece with the full 15 piece orchestra envisaged in my orchestration.
15 piece orchestration, that seems uncommon.
COREY: It is unusual for a full opera, but we wanted to create something that felt complete on a smaller scale, so that schools and smaller companies could perform it with modest budgets. There’s also something very intimate about it which I think people will be surprised by. I’ll also whip up a fully orchestrated version after we see how this goes so we can pitch to the larger houses.
Alright, when and where?
KYLE: Saturday March 19, 2022 at 7:30 pm, and Sunday March 20, 2022 at 5 pm.
COREY: At College St United Church.
KYLE: tickets are $35 online, $40 cash at the door,$20 online for students, and Live Stream tickets are $30, $20 for students. All of it can be found at mightierproductions.com.