The Canadian Opera Company & the National Arts Centre Co-Commission ‘Empire of Wild’ by Ian Cusson & Cherie Dimaline

By Afton Wooten

The Canadian Opera Company and the National Arts Centre have announced the co-commissioning of Ian Cusson and Cherie Dimaline‘s new mainstage opera,”Empire of Wild.”

The opera is based on Dimaline’s 2019 novel of the same name which was inspired by the legend of the rogarou, a werewolf-like creature that haunts the roads and woods of Indigenous communities. The opera weaves history, folklore, and intrigue into the story of Joan, a complex and strong Métis woman haunted by the sudden disappearance of her husband Victor.

“Empire of Wild” will be sung in English and French and make its premiere with the Canadian Opera Company. Additional information such as dates, the creative team, casting, and design will be released as details become available.

“I am thrilled to be partnering with the National Arts Centre in the creation of this important, contemporary opera,” said General Director of the Canadian Opera Company, Perryn Leech, in an official press statement. “Empire of Wild” embodies years of community-rooted work that the Canadian Opera Company has been doing through regular discourse with its Circle of Artists, and marks a tangible response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s 94 Calls to Action. With this commission, we’re continuing our commitment to Indigenous representation by bringing a collaborative focus to the creation of opera that reflects a wider range of perspectives and lived experiences. We are proud to support the artistic leadership of some of Canada’s most prominent Indigenous directors, designers, composers, and stage crew.”