New opera troupe debuts with ‘gender-playful’ staging of rarely-performed work

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Acclaimed Vancouver-based conductor Kevin Zakresky has founded a new local opera troupe, Players & Singers. For their inaugural performance, they’re taking on a “gender-playful” staging of a rarely-performed early British opera.

The show is Venus and Adonis, composed in 1683 by John Blow, with Anne Kingsmill as librettist. Zakresky and Players & Singers are hoping to shake up Vancouver’s arts scene by going the gender-bending route; Venus will be performed by a male singer (Eric Schwarzhoff) and Adonis a female singer (Dinah Ayre).

woman stage
Woman on stage/Shutterstock

Additionally, the chorus will be “blurring the boundaries of gender.” As a fun way to bridge the gap between performers and audience, attendees are also being encouraged to attend in drag. Tickets are in the affordable $20 to $30 zone.

Based on the classic myth of Venus and Adonis, Blow’s version is considered to be the oldest surviving British opera, though it does not see the stage too often.

“We wanted to start a company of musicians, both vocalists and instrumentalists, who perform rare and underappreciated works from the depths of history,” says Zakresky.

This June, Players & Singers will take on Gian Carlo Menotti’s The Unicorn, Gorgon and the Manticore.

venus adonis opera players singers vancouver

Venus and Adonis takes place January 28 and 29, 2018 at The Ballroom at Hycroft (1489 McRae Avenue, Vancouver). Tickets are available online