Shadow Catch is a Japanese Noh-influenced, brand new chamber opera for five singers and chamber ensemble that weaves together four stories from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Rich with local history and haunting characters, this riveting tale features an evocative score by four Vancouver composers (Dorothy Chang, Jennifer Butler, Farshid Samandari, and Benton Roark), an original text by Vancouver poet Daphne Marlatt, stage direction by Colleen Lanki, and musical direction by Marguerite Witvoet.
Shadow Catch—which premieres December 2 as part of Vancouver Pro Musica’s Further East/Further West series—tells the story of a young runaway newly arrived in Vancouver who spends the night in Oppenheimer Park—and the four spirits who appear to him in his dreams. These spirits recount aspects of the dynamic pre-war history of the Powell Street neighbourhood, beginning with K’emk’émelay, the grove of giant maple trees cleared for Stamp’s Mill in the 1860s. Further acts introduce the ghost of a Japanese Canadian ballplayer from the famous Asahi baseball team; a 1920s-era, Hastings Street madam; and a demon-figure ex-cop wrestling with memories of corruption during the labour riots of the 1930s.
Shadow Catch features an original text by celebrated Vancouver poet Daphne Marlatt. Stage direction is provided by Colleen Lanki, artistic director of TomoeArts. Musical director Marguerite Witvoet leads an ensemble of flute (Mark McGregor), cello (Lee Duckles), and percussion (Brian Nesselroad), and a cast of five singers: Joseph Bulman, Melanie Adams, Michael Mori, Margo Levae, and Lawrence Cotton.
Shadow Catch premieres December 2 at the Firehall Arts Centre (280 East Cordova Street—and mere blocks from Oppenheimer Park, where the events of the opera take place) and runs until December 4.