Just in time for Halloween, New Opera Lyra is bringing two performances of “The Mummy” to Ottawa on Oct. 27 to 28.
New Opera Lyra’s co-artistic director Andrew Ager composed the opera based on the horror story and the many movies featuring the iconic bandage-wrapped monster.
Since 1932, the mummy has been a recurring on-screen character in films that range from horror to action to comedy. Ager was eager to revive the legend for the stage.
“It [the show] follows the wrath of the mummy who has been taken from his tomb,” Ager said. “It’s a very simple story but I think it’s going to be very dramatic and very spooky.”
St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church hopes to attract a full house for the two shows. Church official Vivian Leir said she has seen “excellent turnouts” for past performances by New Opera Lyra and is eager for the new show.
“We have been trying to reach out into the community and music is one way in which we can do it,” Leir said about the connection between the church and the Opera.
“Our Custodian of Music, Matthew Larkin, is well known in the musical community and he brings in wonderful artists.”
In addition to his role with the church, Larkin is also the resident conductor at New Opera Lyra and will lead the orchestra for “The Mummy.”
“I’m the conduit between what happens on stage and what happens in the orchestra,” Larkin said, “I am looking at the stage while the players are looking at their music.”
The show, Larkin said, is “part of a troika of gothic stories, really appropriate for that Halloween period of time.” “The Mummy” follows previous New Opera Lyra original productions known as their “gothic trilogy.” The first two instalments, “Frankenstein” in 2019, and “Dracula” in 2022, also premiered around Halloween.
Is opera the best way to tell these stories?
“A friend of mine once said to me [jokingly] ‘Hey, if you really want to lose money you should start an opera company’,” Larkin said.
New Opera Lyra is a successor to Opera Lyra, founded in 1984 by Canadian soprano Diana Gilchrist. It ceased operations in 2015.
Ager is confident however, that opera is having a renaissance. “Frankenstein” and “Dracula” sold out all performances.
“What is also noticeable for our audience, and this has been commented on by various people in charge of venues, is that we have quite a mixed audience,” Ager said.
“People think it’s only old people, so to speak, who go to the opera,” Ager said. “The fact is that at a number of other concerts we’ve done, the audience was a very balanced mix of audience members that I would estimate to be in the age of 20 up to 45 or 50.”
Rehearsals for the “The Mummy” are underway and while the cast prepares for a third year of Halloween-themed performances, viewers can get a preview of what to expect from the performers in this clip of Dracula’s aria from the 2022 production.
The Mummy premieres Oct. 27 at St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church. Information on tickets and New Opera Lyra can be found here.