Ghost Opera is an ambitious production from the Old Trout Puppet Workshop, Calgary’s renowned masters of puppetry for adults. Combining the grandeur of contemporary opera with the Faustian magic of puppetry, it’s an Ancient Greek ghost story told by ghosts – with the living enacted by people-size puppets.
With music by celebrated composer Veronika Krausas, and libretto by Giller Prize-winning author André Alexis, Ghost Opera is by turns absurd and spooky, like a great horror film. It’s also a real rumination on what it means to be alive, and what it means that we have to die.
The Old Trout Puppet Workshop was founded on a ranch in southern Alberta in 1999 by a group of artists excited by the undiscovered potential of the medium of puppetry. They are now one of Canada’s most creative companies, producing innovative theatre shows as well as sculptures, films, children’s books, music and paintings. In addition to creating and touring their own work across the country and around the world, the Trouts have also lent their mastery of puppets and design to acclaimed productions such as the Vancouver Opera’s Hansel and Gretel and NAC English Theatre’s Twelfth Night.
The National Creation Fund’s investment of $205,000 supported additional workshop time for an enhanced team of puppeteers and technicians to work with more elaborate sets and puppets and explore the integration of aerial elements into the work.
Produced by The Old Trout Puppet Workshop in partnership with Calgary Opera, the Timepoint Ensemble, and the Performing Arts Residency Program at Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity.
Developed with support from the NAC’s National Creation Fund, Opera America’s Opera Grants for Female Composers program (supported by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation), the Canada Council’s New Chapter program, the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, and the Calgary Arts Development Authority.
After seeing the Old Trouts’ latest show, Ghost Opera, part of me wondered — what on earth took them so long to create an opera?
Judd Palmer and his cohorts at The Old Trout Puppet Workshop always ask a preliminary question before setting out to design and produce