"A figurative and literal journey into imaginative opera landscapes" - Opera Canada

Our Story

Who are we?

In 2008, a group of university students decided to combine opera and orchestra for a debut concert. Years later, Brendan McKeen met Brenna Corner and they decided to put together a full opera in 2011. Time moved on and a young artist program and graduate school brought Brendan and Brenna back together for the summer of 2014. That summer, MUO's festivals were born. 

What do we do?

Manitoba Underground Opera creates experiences every summer. We draw you in to another world. Sometimes, we create romance. Sometimes, we make you think. And above all, we make you feel.  Every show is different and never repeated. 

Mandate

To present new, adventurous productions of classic operatic repertoire in unique locations, featuring the opera stars of tomorrow with an emphasis on Manitoban talent. We specialize in opera for the new generation, in a variety of intimate and large-scale venues, always performed with orchestra and always aimed at engaging a new and young audience.   

Annual Festival

Every August, MUO presents an opera festival featuring a variety of main stage shows and concerts. 2019's season, Reflections of Ourselves, featured three productions focused on social issues. 

Opera for Children Tour

2019's successful tour of "The Three Little Pigs" brought opera to over 1,000 parents and children in Winnipeg and seven locations in Southern Manitoba all at NO COST for attendees. 

Opera Around Town

Opera Around Town, or OAT for short, is our name for all the free events we do around the city. Whether it is an intimate concert in a museum or Puccini at a farmer's market, there are plenty of ways for you to enjoy opera. 

Staff

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Brendan McKeen, General Manager

Born in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan and raised in Winnipeg, Brendan McKeen has conducted orchestras all over North America. His conducting credits include orchestras in South Carolina, New York, Baltimore, and Ottawa, as well as Manitoba's own Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra.


Mr. McKeen completed his Masters of Music degree in Orchestral Conducting at Northwestern University in 2015, under the tutelage of Maestros Victor Yampolsky and Robert Hasty. Mr. McKeen served as Assistant Conductor for Northwestern University’s production of Mozart's Così fan tutte under Lyric Opera of Chicago conductor, Maestro Emanuele Andrizzi.


Inspired by his love of opera and his passion for nurturing young artists, Mr. McKeen founded Manitoba Underground Opera in September 2008. Now approaching its tenth anniversary, MUO has grown into an established fixture of the Winnipeg cultural community, presenting a summer opera festival every August.

In addition to his career as conductor and general manager with MUO, Mr. McKeen serves on the Manitobans for the Arts Advocacy Committee. This organization is devoted to advancing arts, culture, heritage, and creativity in Manitoba.

Brenna Corner, Artistic Director

Brenna Corner has worked as a director, actor, singer, choreographer, and fight director across Canada, the United States and Europe.  Brenna has been a member of the Yulanda M Faris Young Artist Program with Vancouver Opera and is currently working with The Atlanta Opera as the Resident Director for their Studio program. 


Ms. Corner is the artistic director of Fraser Lyric Opera and Manitoba Underground Opera in Winnipeg, Canada.Ms. Corner made her directorial mainstage debut directing a new production of Hansel and Gretel designed by the Old Trout Puppet Workshop for Vancouver Opera.  Ms. Corner returned for her second summer as a Young Artist at the Glimmerglass Opera Festival as the assistant director of their new production The Siege of Calais, as well as the director for Scalia/Ginsburg.


Select directing projects include: Sweeney Todd (New Orleans Opera), Hansel and Gretel (Vancouver Opera) The Four Note Opera(Yulanda M. Faris Vancouver Opera Young Artist Program), Cendrillon (Manitoba Underground Opera), Béatrice et Benedict (Fraser Lyric Opera), The Turn of the Screw (Accademia Europea dell’ Opera). Select assistant directing projects include: Turandot (The Atlanta Opera) The Siege of Calais,(Glimmerglass Opera Festival); Carmen (Canadian Opera Company); Stickboy, (Vancouver Opera), Der Fliegende Hollander (Calgary Opera). 

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Laura Gow, Director of Production

Laura Gow is a composer and stage manager from Winnipeg who recently completed her B. Mus. (Composition) at the University of Manitoba’s Desautels Faculty of Music. In addition to her stage management duties with Manitoba Underground Opera, Laura serves as the Director of Production for the company as well. Other stage management credits include: La Traviata (Manitoba Opera), Gracie (Prairie Theatre Exchange), and Mamma Mia! (Rainbow Stage). Laura has also written a short opera, titled Morgues & Meows, which was performed as part of the 2017 Winnipeg New Music Festival.  

Janice Marple, Administrative Director

Soprano Janice Marple completed her Masters of Music in Voice Performance at the University of Alberta. Currently based in Metro Vancouver, BC, she studies privately with teacher Marisa Gaetanne. Past opera roles with MUO include Nella in Gianni Schicchi, soloist in Female Fortitude, and soprano chorus soloist in Idomeneo. Her other operatic experience includes Fiordiligi in Mozart’s Così fan tutte (cover), Miss Wordsworth in Britten’s Albert Herring, Atalanta in Handel’s Serse, First Witch in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, and Venus in Offenbach’s Orphée aux enfers. She has also been featured as a Debut Soloist in VoiceScapes’ annual Sing Along Messiah in Calgary, as well as attending the Centre for Opera Studies in Italy, the Opera on the Avalon Summer Music festival, and the Opera NUOVA Vocal Arts Festival. Ms. Marple placed first in the vocal category at the 2012 FCMF National Music Festival, and is the recipient of the Beryl Barns Memorial Graduate Award, Alberta Heritage Fund Scholarship, and Faculty of Graduate Studies Research and Travel Scholarships.


In addition to her performance obligations, Ms. Marple serves as both a private voice teacher and part-time studio administrative assistant in New Westminster, BC. Her background in administration also includes her role as the Front of House Manager for the Good Noise Vancouver Gospel Choir. 

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