Since 2016, Flipside Opera & Art Song Collective has been bringing outside-the-box, inspiring musical experiences to Manitobans. We actively champion music by Winnipeg and Manitoban composers, and create unique opportunities to support the growth of emerging Winnipeg singers.
Each season, Flipside presents one to two main productions. These productions have included fully-staged operas, like Winnipeg composer Neil Weisensel’s Gisela in her Bathtub (2016), A Hand of Bridge (2016), and The Medium (2019). As the only organization in Winnipeg that programs art song (poetry set to classical voice and piano) as part of our core activities, we rebranded in 2021 to include “art song” in our name. Our innovative song recitals have included #nofilter (2019), a humour-filled and raw program of modern songs dissecting our modern relationship with the Internet; Greeriad (2017), a celebration of the folk-inspired songs of Manitoba composer John Greer, performed in Winnipeg, Flin Flon and Brandon; and Heavyweights (2016), a recital celebrating rarely-heard songs for larger classical voices.
Collaborations have helped us to expand the boundaries of opera and art song. In 2019, we worked with the Winnipeg Classical Guitar Society to perform Echoes of Spain, an emceed evening of operatic hits adapted for voice and guitar. Most recently, Flipside worked alongside local new music presenter GroundSwell, as well as a local filmmaker, composer, poet, musicians, and historian to develop a new video project: Bloody Jack (2021).
Bloody Jack featured a new song cycle by Michael Matthews (Professor Emeritus at the University of Manitoba) and Dennis Cooley. The songs were written for and performed by Dawn Bruch-Wiens and Laura Loewen, and captured by director Aidan Ritchie. Local historian Kristen Treusch, Matthews and Cooley provided documentary interviews interwoven with the music to give context to the music, poetry, and the life of the historic Manitoba criminal on which the cycle is based. A sold out live premiere of the film including a panel discussion with all six creators was held in November 2021. The film was then made available online and was viewed by audiences across Canada, Germany, and the United States.
Throughout each season, we offer numerous informal performance opportunities for local singers from emerging to professional. From 2015-2020, Flipside offered Opera Idol, an annual fundraiser which showcased local emerging opera artists and offered them the opportunity to win cash prizes and a role in a future Flipside show. In August 2022, we are planning an outdoor bocce ball fundraiser that will feature performances of Italian art song and opera by past Opera Idol winners.
Opera by the Pint is a quarterly event held at Little Brown Jug Brewing Company. Local and visiting opera singers perform, unrehearsed, in a casual and non-judgemental environment, with lighthearted introductions from our artistic director to give context and an easy way into the music for the audience.
Flipside's role in the Manitoba artistic community is one of bridge-building. We bring together artists of many disciplines, perform underrepresented music in innovative and community-centric ways, and share the joy and depth of vocal theatre with diverse audiences.