Kye Marshall & Amanda Hale’s ‘Pomegranate’ Makes World Premiere at Pride Toronto 2023 With The Canadian Opera Company

By Afton Wooten

Composer Kye Marshall and librettist Amanda Hale’s “Pomegranate” will make its world premiere at the Canadian Opera Company as a major cultural event at Pride Toronto 2023.

The co-production with Vancouver Opera stars mezzo-soprano Adanya Dunn and soprano Danielle Buonaiuto (they/she). The two portray young lovers, Suzie and Cass who wish to express themselves freely but are constrained by social boundaries. The story of love and endurance flows through time from a “women’s temple in ancient Pompeii to Toronto in 1981 in the aftermath of the city’s infamous Bathhouse Raids.” Many will recognize the real-life events and places throughout Canada woven into the opera.

“Pomegranate” draws from a collection of  Hale’s poems published in 2007 which Marshall turned into a song cycle. This work was presented at Toronto’s Heliconian Club in 2014, later being performed as a chamber opera at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre.

Mezzo-soprano Catherine Daniel takes on the roles of Livia and Suzie’s Mother opposite Peter Barrett as Marcus and Suzie’s Uncle Salvatore, and Teiya Kasahara 笠原貞野 (they/them) as the Priestess and bar owner Jules. Jennifer Tarver directs with Rosemary Thomson conducting the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra and Chorus.

The composer said in a press release, “In both acts of this opera, there is an illusion of safety for women. When we started revising this opera for the Canadian Opera Company a couple of years ago, it felt like gay and lesbian and queer rights in North America had been established and that we were relatively safe from threats of violence and persecution and that the message of this opera was no longer needed. How wrong we were. I believe, in our current climate, the message of this opera is needed even more. We cannot take for granted our right to love who we chose.”

The premiere takes place June 2-4 at the Canadian Opera Company Theatre.