In 2008, a group of university music students in Winnipeg were feeling discouraged by the lack of opportunities they had to perform and create art in their hometown. In particular, there was virtually no way for young singers in the city to gain experience singing with an orchestra. These students decided to channel their frustration into creating these opportunities for themselves, and Manitoba Underground Opera was born. Spearheaded by Brendan McKeen (now MUO’s General Manager) and Brenna Corner (our Artistic Director), the fledgling company evolved from presenting themed concerts with singers and orchestra to mounting full operatic productions.
When Brendan moved on to pursue graduate studies in conducting and Brenna’s successes as a director led her to relocate to the US, the two were energized to continue making independent opera happen in Winnipeg. Their priorities had shifted from a desire to create performance opportunities for themselves to a need to generate those opportunities for other talented young artists. The result of this renewed commitment is an annual summer opera festival that has become a mainstay of Winnipeg’s classical music scene.
Taking place every August, MUO’s summer opera festival is the cornerstone of our company’s activities. Mainstage shows are presented in a variety of unconventional venues, including La Cathédrale de Saint-Boniface, the Winnipeg Art Gallery, and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. The festival also includes concerts and free pop-up opera performances around the city. Our goal is to create opera that is up close and personal (often literally, with performers singing only a few feet away from the audience). We also make it a priority to tackle specific social issues through our productions, such as social media bullying, the under-representation of women’s artistic voices throughout history, and the #metoo movement. Manitoba Underground Opera creates experiences every summer, drawing you in to another world. Sometimes, we create romance. Sometimes, we make you think. And above all, we make you feel. Every MUO production is unique and is never repeated.
Our annual Opera for Children Tour brings opera to families who otherwise may not have the opportunity to experience this artform live. Each year’s show features music from some of the most famous and beloved operas folded into a kid-friendly story, and travels to public library locations all over Winnipeg and across Southern Manitoba. All performances are given at no cost to attendees or the host libraries, so any parent or caregiver wishing to expose their children to classical music can afford to attend.
General Manager: Brendan McKeen
Artistic Director: Brenna Corner
Director of Production: Laura Gow
Administrative Director: Janice Marple
Chair: Andrea Bellhouse
Vice-Chair & Artists' Representative: Sydney Clarke
Treasurer: Nicki Kirton
Directors: Craig Ross, Danielle Tétrault
Because of you, young Canadian artists are getting on stage to tell stories and introduce opera to new audiences. Your generous donation keeps this artform alive and relevant.
Registered Charity Number 80310 4520 RR0001
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