“The depiction of the women’s collective experience resonated most powerfully in the rhythmic ensemble evocations – sung and spoken – of the soul-destroying daily grind… and the slowly unfolding, overlapping textures of voices yearning for a better life.”
-Wall Street Journal
Through a generous Digital Now grant from the Canada Council for the Arts, our 2017 touring production, Sweat will be reconceived through a cinematic lens. In development now, Sweat is set to film this June and will be released digitally in October/November 2022.
Sweat is an a cappella opera for nine singers by Juliet Palmer and Anna Chatterton about the global garment industry. Scored for chorus and four soloists performing in English as well as Cantonese, Ukrainian, Spanish, and Hungarian, Sweat seeks to bring the audience into the heart of a contemporary sweatshop. What do these workers dream of while sewing sleeves all day? Was life better in the village left behind? What choice did they make? Plunging headfirst into the ethical conundrums of the garment trade, this opera offers a window into the lives of the workers who clothe us.
Immediately evoking the environment of the sweatshop, Palmer’s score falls in and out of musical grooves as she contrasts the sonic world of the factory floor with the lyrical hopes and dreams of the women who labour there.
A classically trained ballerina and contemporary dancer Jennifer’s work for the stage and screen spans two decades. For stage, Jennifer holds extensive choreography and performance credits, including ‘Pandora’-Dora Award nominated for Outstanding Production in the Opera category (FAWN Chamber Creative), ‘Seven Deadly Sins’ (Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Oregon Summer Music Festival), ‘Messiah’ (Against the Grain Theatre), ‘Sweat’ (Bicycle Opera). For television and film, Jennifer holds Head Choreographer and Dance/Script consultant credits for the Netflix series ‘Tiny Pretty Things’ and was also choreographer for ‘Reign’ (CW), ‘Titans’ (DC Universe), ‘Frankie Drake’ (CBC), ‘Salvation’ (CBS), ‘Mary Kills People’ (Global TV), ‘Falling Water’ (USA Network), ‘Transylvania’ (CW), ‘Reacher’ (Amazon) and the feature film ‘Barney’s Version’ (Serendipity Point Films).
Designed to bring contemporary Canadian music to smaller communities where there is little opportunity to hear it, the Bicycle Opera Project closes the gap between audiences and singers by performing in intimate spaces. Bicycle Opera was founded in 2012 by Larissa Koniuk and Nadia Chana, two young singers who decided to fuse their love of opera and that of cycling. Since 2012, the company has grown considerably, but maintains its environmentally-friendly roots and creates productions that are renowned for their fresh and inventive style. Larissa is the founder and artistic director of the Bicycle Opera Project and also in demand as a soprano for her interpretations of new opera works. She also appears in Sweat as ‘The Neighbour’.
Canadian-New Zealand composer Juliet Palmer is acclaimed for interdisciplinary work, which “crosses so many genres as to be in a category of its own” (Toronto Star). Artistic director of Urbanvessel, Juliet holds a PhD from Princeton University. Her music has been presented at festivals and concerts around the world.
As a librettist Anna Chatterton’s work includes Swoon (Canadian Opera Company), Crush (COC and The Banff Centre), Stitch (Theatre Centre/Urbanvessel, Dora nomination for Outstanding New Opera), Voice Box (Harbourfront Centre/World Stage/Urbanvessel) and Rocking Horse Winner (Tapestry Opera) that recently won the 2017 Dora Mavor Moore award for Outstanding Opera Production.
Geoffrey Sirett is highly sought-after across Canada for opera and concert work. One of Canada’s leading baritones, Geoffrey recently made his debuts with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (Weill’s Seven Deadly Sins) and the Canadian Opera Company (Strauss’ Arabella). Geoffrey is the music director of The Bicycle Opera Project.
Ash Tailor is a director of photography based out of Toronto, Canada. Originally from the United Kingdom, he enjoys bringing a discrete style and approach to story. Specialising in narrative and commercial content, he is passionate about being bold and building worlds that resonate with audiences, working collaboratively with all departments to bring meaning and intentionality to the story at hand.
Originally from Windsor, Vy Nguyen is a freelance camera assistant working in Toronto. She finds the beauty in life through frames, sketches, spicy foods, and thrifting petite clothes meant for petite people (her).
Braden is an accomplished creative director, journalist, cinematographer, and storyteller. You can usually find him talking to, well pretty much anyone, learning unique details about their life. For Braden, it’s all in the pursuit of finding unique stories that need to be told. Always seeing the world through the lens resulted in him founding Make Hay Media (now Untold Storytelling) in 2014.
Brody’s journey into filmmaking started in the skate park at a young age. Like so young he would sneak away with his parent’s camcorder so he could film his friends then put it back hoping he didn’t break it. He’s spent the last 5 years working story into what he sees through the lens. Creating projects all over the world, Brody strives to have every frame move the story forward.
Emese Kiraly (she | her | hers) has worked in the Film & TV Industry for over 8 years, growing along the way as a Producer, Production Coordinator, Locations Scout and Mentor. Based in Kingston, Emese has worked as a Production Coordinator consistently over the last 2 years at the Kingston Film Office, helping to host major productions, such as Netflix and Paramount Plus. She is passionate about advocating for better consent practices and safer spaces for performers and crew, which allows her to approach work in an informed and realistic way.
Catherine Daniel, Mezzo Soprano is currently based in Toronto, Canada. Career highlights include: debuting Klytemnestra in Edmonton Opera’s production of Elektra, singing Elisabetta in Knoxville Opera’s production of Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda, and debuting at Carnegie Hall as a soloist in Haydn’s Mass in Time of War.
Hong Kong born, Toronto-based baritone Keith Lam was described as “a suave, fine grained baritone” by the Boston Globe. He has performed with companies such as Canadian Opera Company, Tafelmusik, Tapestry Opera, Opera Five, Bicycle Opera Project, Toronto Operetta Theatre and Jeunesse Musicales.
Soprano Larissa Koniuk is in demand for her interpretations of new opera works. She made her NYC debut in Sweat with Centre for Contemporary Opera, and has promoted and performed in over 20 new opera works with the leading contemporary companies including The Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s New Creations Festival, The Royal Conservatory of Music’s 21C Festival, Stratford Summer Music and Westben Festival.
Canadian mezzo soprano Stephanie Tritchew has been named “one of six Canadian women making the future bright for the art form” by The Globe and Mail. Recent work includes diverse repertoire with companies including Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Vancouver Opera, Calgary Opera, Edmonton Opera, as well as a host of independent companies and projects.
Alberta-born soprano Caitlin Wood earned impressive reviews as an “absolutely vibrant Susanna”, with “great comic flair” (Vancouver Classical Music) in her 2017 debut as Susanna in Marriage of Figaro, Vancouver Opera Festival. Caitlin has appeared in leading roles with Edmonton Opera, Pacific Opera Victoria and in Carmina Burana with Okanagan Symphony.
Toronto born Soprano, Justine Owen completed her first tour with the Bicycle Opera Project in Sweat. Justine has worked with Culchaworks Arts collective and has sung the role of Carmen Jones in a tribute to Harry Belafonte. Justine currently sings with the Nathaniel Dett Chorale as a chorister and soloist.
Praised for her stage presence of warmth and character, Mezzo-soprano Erica Iris has captivated audiences with her sensitivity and vocal timbres, critically acclaimed in her performances of opera, concert oratorio, and contemporary repertoire. Winner of the 2011 Eckhardt-Gramatté Music Competition, she has since appeared with the Canadian Opera Company and Tapestry Opera.
Alexandra Beley is quickly establishing herself as an up and coming young mezzo-soprano. Alexandra has been praised for her dark, rich, and expressive timbre. Recently, Alexandra was a member of Calgary Opera’s Emerging Artist Program and also a member of L’Atelier Lyrique with Opéra de Montréal, where she had the pleasure of singing under the baton of Yannick Nézet-Séguin.
Mezzo-soprano Cindy Won, is in demand for her ensemble singing for Toronto’s finest ensembles. She regularly is called on to interpret works ranging from contemporary to early, and everything in between. She has performed regularly with Tafelmusik and the Canadian Opera Company.
Dedra McDermott is a new generation artist of colour, working as a professional dancer, emerging choreographer, producer, and movement dramaturg. The scope of her performance career includes the diverse worlds of theatre, film and television. She is a recipient of the Metcalf Foundation Performing Arts Internship, focussing on Artistic Production (Curation and Dramaturgy) at Canadian Stage and adelheid for 2021-22.
Miyeko Ferguson is a Tkaronto (Toronto) based dance artist. In 2016, she received her BFA degree in Performance Dance from Ryerson University. She has toured across Canada and the United States with Red Sky Performance and in 2020, she was nominated for a Dora Mavor Moore Award for her performance in their production, AF.
Originally from Red Deer, Alberta, Carleen graduated from Ryerson University's dance program and has had a thriving professional career as a contemporary dance artist since then. Her latest credentials include performing in Guillaume Côté’s 50-minute duet and immersive contemporary dance show “Touch”. Carleen dances for the Canadian Indigenous dance company, Red Sky Performance.
Our original touring production of Sweat was created by:
Union Organizer: Stephanie Tritchew
Overseer: Catherine Daniel
Neighbour: Larissa Koniuk
Owner: Keith Lam
Stage Director: Banuta Rubess
Music Director: Geoffrey Sirett
Choreographer: Jennifer Nichols
Designer: Sonja Rainey
Lighting Designer: Kai Masaoka
Stage Manager: Julia Howman