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Raccoon Opera

Rebecca GRAY & Rachel GRAY

Raccoon Opera

Christopher Gaudreault - conductor

Rebecca Gray, soprano - Raccoon

Ellen Wieser, soprano - Raccoon

Louis-Benoît-Caron - clarinet

Émilie Fortin - trumpet

Yubin Kim - violin

Jean-Christophe Lizotte - cello

Kristin Hoff - piano & voice

Catherine Cherrier - percussion

Program Notes

As sisters, our work on "Raccoon Opera" is a truly collaborative endeavor. In this visually striking piece, we endeavour to blend dark comedy with a critique of the Canadian housing crisis and urban alienation and use the figure of an urban raccoon—emblematic of cunning and ruthlessness—to mirror the exploitative relationships that are fostered by a capitalist society that values dominance. The narrative, inspired by real-life challenges such as housing insecurity and oppressive landlord-tenant relationships, uses absurdity and humor to engage and provoke thought.

Our creative process for "Raccoon Opera" is deeply collaborative, fusing sound and visual elements to create an immersive world that seeks to break down traditional hierarchies within disciplines and integrate contributions from all artists involved. Raccoon Opera requires dramaturgical input and multi-faceted skills from everyone: as the conductor yells, singers growl and hiss, and the instrumentalists sing, speak, and percuss.

In Raccoon Opera, the gnarly mundane world of city sewers, microwave dinners and dirty apartments is paired with the grandiose fullness of opera, through whiche we can recognize the immense resonance of the events playing out in everyday apartments.

Rebecca Gray & Rachel Gray

Synopsis

At the start of the opera Erin is a depressed tenant spending 70% of her income on rent. She tries to drown out her feelings of failure and doom by listening to self-help and true crime podcasts. Erin lives in fear of the landlord who comes to her door with an endless supply of complaints about her hygiene and existence. One night, a charismatic Raccoon appears at the window, lending a sympathetic ear and railing against the systems and people who have failed her. The Raccoon encourages Erin to take charge of her life, but, in a Faustian twist, it is ultimately the Raccoon who gains control of Erin and her apartment.

Rebecca Gray & Rachel Gray

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