• Director and Librettist HAUI

APORTIA CHRYPTYCH: A BLACK OPERA FOR PORTIA WHITE recollects the legend, myth, and history of Canadian contralto, "the daughter of destiny." The narrative follows Portia White’s passage through death, fractured into her divine feminine trinity: Portia Body, Portia Soul, and Portia Spirit. As she traverses her past memories, both cryptic and coded, Portia attempts to reconcile her secrets to transcend her earthly existence in the hopes of ascension. 

Despite racial and gender barriers, Portia White’s life was about overcoming obstacles, and ultimately, the opera is a celebration of her triumphs and legacy. In a story of experience and appropriation, reclamation, and proclamation, this work reimagines the score as Musical Scripture, drawing from the past to redefine and colourize history. Synthesized of an eclectic range of musical styles, the opera seeks to unpack the siloed nature of popularized music and "European" operatic forms to bridge unity between artistic communities.

Utilizing spirituals, existing repertoire, spoken word, rap, folk songs, hip-hop, R&B, and jazz, this work redefines opera for new diverse audiences in this multidisciplinary operatic opus. 


The Canadian Opera Company, based in Toronto, is the largest producer of opera in Canada and in North America. General Director Perryn Leech joined the company in 2021, forming a leadership team with Music Director Johannes Debus and Deputy General Director Christie Darville and key artistic staff including Roberto Mauro, Director of Artistic Planning.

The COC enjoys a loyal audience, including a dedicated base of subscribers, and has an international reputation for artistic excellence and creative innovation. Its diverse repertoire includes new commissions and productions, local and international collaborations with leading opera companies and festivals, and attracts the world’s foremost Canadian and international artists.

The company is an incubator for the future of the art form, nurturing Canada’s new wave of opera performers and creators with customized training and support. The COC’s purpose-built opera house, the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, is hailed internationally as one of the finest in the world. 

HAUI is a mixed media artist who directs, designs and devises new works in film, theatre and opera. Their goal is to create:  

Hybrid forms of  
Artistic work with  

Creative team

  • Composer Sean Mayes with HAUI
  • Director and Librettist HAUI
  • Assistant Director Sheree Spencer
  • Dramaturg Neema Bickersteth
  • Conductor Sean Mayes
  • Set and projection Design Laura Warren
  • Lighting Design Bonnie Beecher
  • Costume Design Diseiye Thompson
  • Sound Design Wayne Hawthorne
  • Stage Manager Kat Chin
  • Choreography and Intimacy Director Aria Evans
  • Portia Body Neema Bickersteth
  • Portia Spirit Adrienne Danrich
  • Portia Soul SATE
  • Associate Producer Sheree Spencer

National Creation Fund investment

The National Creation Funds investment of $190,000 supports onboarding of diverse artists, mentorship and succession opportunities. Additionally, there are dedicated funds for a music and orchestration workshop and a staging and design workshop in 2023. 


Produced by the Canadian Opera Company, in association with the National Arts Centres National Creation Fund, Canada Council for the Arts and Ontario Arts Council. 

Performance dates

Past performances

Presented by the Canadian Opera Company Jun 14 - Jun 16, 2024 Canadian Opera Company Theatre (Toronto)