Opera NUOVA tours the acclaimed family opera Naomi’s Road February 28 – March 28, 2014

Hiather Darnel-Kadonaga as “Naomi” in Vancouver Opera’s tour of Naomi’s Road. Photo by Tim Matheson. Photo Courtesy of Vancouver Opera.

Hiather Darnel-Kadonaga as “Naomi”
in Vancouver Opera’s tour of Naomi’s Road. Photo by Tim Matheson. Photo courtesy of Vancouver Opera
Photo Courtesy of Vancouver Opera.

EDMONTON, AB – Opera NUOVA is pleased to announce its 2014 Opera-for-Young-Audiences production of Naomi’s Road by Ramona Luengen and Ann Hodges based on the award winning book by Joy Kogawa. Naomi’s Road will tour throughout Edmonton area schools in March 2014 with three public performances at the Stanley A. Milner Library Theatre on February 28th and March 1st, 2014.Set in Vancouver during the Second World War, the story of Naomi’s Road is based on Joy Kogawa‘s book of the same name. Naomi’s Road depicts the dramatic and touching story of 9-year old Japanese-Canadian Naomi and her family who are upturned, displaced and sent to internment camps in the BC interior and Alberta. This opera for young audiences presents extremely important themes and lessons on bullying, racism, patriotism, familial change, and the importance of acceptance. Most importantly, this story highlights a definitive moment in Canada’s history from a sensitive and poignant perspective. Suitable for children ages 4 – 15 and their families, this moving story, sung in English, ensures that these important lessons are not forgotten.

Joy Kogawa‘s novel for young readers was commissioned into an opera by Vancouver Opera in 2003. Canadian composerRamona Luengen worked with Canadian librettist and stage director Ann Hodges to create this 45-minute work. The original production, with set and costumes designed by Christine Reimer, was toured throughout BC initially in 2005 and again in 2012 & 2013 to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the Japanese Internment. This production was purchased by Opera NUOVA to tour to Edmonton areas schools and community groups.

This production features the talents and voices of some of Canada’s finest young opera singers. Soprano Hiather Darnel-Kadonaga sings the title role; tenor Sam Chung plays her brother, Stephen. The cast is completed by baritone Sung Taek Chung and mezzo-soprano Grace Chan who play multiple roles, including members of Naomi and Stephen’s family and other children that the family encounters. The company is supported by the work of one pianist and a stage manager. This production will be remounted by Opera NUOVA’s Artistic & Managing Director Kim Mattice Wanat, based on the original work of stage director Ann Hodges.

Opera NUOVA’s mission not only includes training and promoting the advancement of emerging Canadian vocalists and collaborative pianists, but also includes producing operatic productions that integrate children and adults; bringing opera to schools; and presenting outreach performances for communities that rarely have the opportunity to see opera. Touring operas for young audiences is an important part of how Opera NUOVA serves its community. Bringing opera to the schools fills a gap in arts education often cut or overlooked by school districts and local & provincial governments. Helping to develop a musical vocabulary and an understanding of the operatic genre in children ensures the growth and development of future arts supporters and opera audiences.

Naomi’s Road tours throughout the Edmonton Capital Region from February 28 – March 28, 2014. This tour has been generously supported by TELUS who provided the cost of performance to ten under-privileged schools. Servus Credit Union has also provided financial support for our public performances. The general public can attend one of three performances at the Stanley A. Milner Library Theatre on February 28th, 2014 at 7:00 PM and March 1st, 2014 at 11:00 AM and 2:00 PM. Tickets ($15 adults/$10 children/$40 families of 4) are available at Tix on the Square through their website, by calling 780.420.1757, or in person at the Tix on the Square box office in Sir Winston Churchill Square. More information about Opera NUOVA and Naomi’s Road can be found on our School Tours Page.


Grace Chan – Mother/Obasan/Mitzi
Grace Chan's HeadshotWidely praised for her natural voice, dynamic presence and audience rapport, Manila-born Chinese-Canadian Mezzo-soprano Grace Chan has sung with major opera companies in three continents; her strong reputation in the Canadian industry is evident in press reviews in publications such as Opera Canada, The Globe and Mail, Time Magazine, The Toronto Sun, Stratford Festival Theatre, The Vancouver Sun, The Georgia Strait and many other community dailies. Grace obtained her BMus. (Opera Performance) and MMus. (Voice Performance) at UBC, and extensive training in Vienna and New York. Grace is a teacher, clinician, adjudicator, conductor, and mentor with affiliations with Trinity Western University and the BC Conservatory of Music.

Sam Chung – Stephen
Sam Chung's HeadshotOriginally from Winnipeg, Sam has worked extensively for the Vancouver Opera most recently singing the role of Stephen in their touring production of Naomi’s Road; he has also sung Gastone in Verdi’s La Traviata, while covering the role of Alfredo; Borsa in Verdi’s Rigoletto and the 2nd Jew in Strauss’s Salome; Parpignol in La Bohème, and the 2nd Villager in Pagliacci. Also for VOA, he has covered the roles of Roméo in Roméo et Juliette and Beppe in Pagliacci. For Burnaby Lyric Opera, Sam has sung Ferrando in Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte; and Soldat in City Opera Vancouver’s premier of Der Kaiser von Atlantis. Sam has also performed Don Basilio/Curzio in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro with Lyric Opera Studio Weimar.

Sung Taek Chung – Daddy/Bully/Train Master/ Rough Lock Bill
Sung Taek Chung's Headshot
Most recently, baritone Sung Taek Chung completed a role study of Ned Keene in Peter Grimes with the Canadian Opera Company. He created the role of Minik in Linda Catlin Smith’s Facing South, which had its world premiere at the World Stage Festival in Toronto and made his professional European debut as baritone soloist in Stravinski’s Le Renard in Clermont-Ferrand, France. Mr. Chung was chosen to sing the role of Sid in the 50th anniversary production of Albert Herring at the October Britten Festival in Aldeburgh, England and has performed Count Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro in Košice, Slovakia, the Sailor/Gunner’s Mate in the Canadian Opera Company’s production of Billy Budd and was a soloist in the Banff Summer Arts Festival production of the operas of Georges Aperghis.

Hiather Darnel-Kodanaga – Naomi
Hiather Darnel-Kadonaga's HeadshotHiather Darnel-Kadonaga is a lyric soprano of Japanese and Finnish descent. Hiather graduated with a Masters in Voice and Opera Performance at McGill University. She has performed the role of Geraldine in Barber’s one act opera A Hand of Bridge, Miss Jessel in Britten’s Turn of the Screw, Despina in Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte, Flora in Turn of the Screw, Adina from Donizetti’s Elisir d’Amore, Musetta from Puccini’s La Bohème, Pamina in Die Zauberflöte, and the comical role of Gianetta in Gilbert and Sullivan’s Gondoliers. She obtained her first professional role with Vancouver Opera performing Piper/Pitch Pine in Veda Hille’s new opera Jack Pine; and later returned to perform the title role in Naomi’s Road.

David Fuller – Stage Manager
David Fuller's HeadshotDavid trained at the Banff Centre for the Arts. He started his career as assistant stage manager for Manitoba Opera, Pacific Opera Victoria and Vancouver Opera. He has also worked as assistant director for Vancouver Opera. David returned to his home town of Victoria where he was stage manager for Pacific Opera Victoria. David also stage managed for the Vancouver Opera in Schools program. He was the stage manager of the original workshops for Naomi’s Road, the production’s original tour throughout British Columbia as well as the tour of Naomi’s Road in Ottawa.

Ann Hodges – Librettist
In demand as a theatre and opera director, Ann’s recent credits include The Secret Mask (Great Canadian Theatre Company), La Cenerentola (Opera Lyra), Bashir Lazhar (Theatre Projects), Other People’s Money (Manitoba Theatre Centre) and Jail Baby (Sarasvati). Ann Hodges has directed and adapted the libretti for several Vancouver Opera in Schools productions and has served as Resident Assistant Director on 11 mainstage productions. Ms. Hodges is a graduate of the National Theatre School.

Joy Kogawa – Author
Ms. Kogawa was born in Vancouver in 1935. Her family was interned in Slocan and later sent to Coaldale, AB after World War II. She is a recipient of numerous honorary doctorates as well as national and international awards for her writing. In 1986, she was named a Member of the Order of Canada. She is also a member of the Order of B.C. and the Order of the Rising Sun.

Ramona Luengen – Composer
Dr. Luengen has composed more than 40 choral works, which have been performed, broadcast and recorded in North America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. Her Stabat Mater was awarded ‘Outstanding Choral Composition of the Year’ and ‘Outstanding Choral Event of the Year’ by the Canadian Association of Choral Conductors. Dr. Luengen taught at UBC and SFU for 12 years, and is also known for her work as a choral conductor.

Kim Mattice Wanat – Director
Kim Mattice Wanat's HeadshotKim Mattice Wanat is the founder and current Artistic & Managing Director of Opera NUOVA. She has directed several of Opera NUOVA’s mainstage productions and all of NUOVA’s school touring productions including Dean Burry’s Isis and the Seven Scorpions, The Brothers Grimm and most notably, a Canada Council commissioned opera written by NUOVA alumnus Isaiah Bell entitled The Lives of Lesser Things. Kim has been recognized with a Global Edmonton Television’s Woman of Vision Award, The City of Edmonton’s Salute to Excellence in the Arts Award and the YWCA’s Woman of Distinction in Arts and Culture Award. In2006, she wrote and published a vocal pedagogy book entitled Unleashing the Expressive Resonant Voice.



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