Coffee with Joel Ivany

Article Written by Stephen Bell- Marketing-Development @coffeescreative

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At Coffeeshop Creative we are not only passionate about designing and developing a unique web presence for our clients, but also sharing their story. We are super excited to introduce our new series of blogs- Grabbing Coffee. First up, Joel Ivany! We recently caught up with Joel, discussed his story, and asked him questions while designing his upcoming website launch.

Not only is Joel one of Canada’s leading operatic directors, but he is also the artistic director and founding member of the innovative, and wildly successful,  Against the Grain Theatre His productions have received critical acclaim across the country, as well as internationally. Joel has redefined opera for younger generation of Canadians. His fresh, and exciting directorial portfolio includes original new compositions, as well as re-imagined productions- such as Handel’s classic Messiah, and fresh new perspectives on Mozart operas:

  • Cosi Fan Tutte- A Little Too Cozy
  • Don Giovanni- #UncleJohn
  • Marriage of Figaro- Figaro’s Wedding


So sit back, pour yourself a cup of coffee, and get ready to meet director – Joel Ivany


hoffmann 7

Edmonton Opera’s Les contes d’Hoffmann- Joel Ivany Stage Direction


1. What inspires you about Opera and direction?


What inspires me about opera is how it is a snapshot, an amplification of our lives told through beautiful music.  You take love, hate, sacrifice, loss and turn up the emotional dial to one that has it’s own soundtrack.  It’s thrilling.

What inspires me about directing is the fulfillment I receive from working with so many people.  I’m a collaborator and there’s nothing more collaborative than directing.  You get to work with so many different people with so many different skills.  It’s like fuel for my soul.




2. What is your favourite production you have worked on?


In Oslo, Norway,  I worked on a production of Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro and it was one of the most technical shows I’ve ever worked on.  The stage at the opera house in Oslo is remarkable.  In a matter of seconds you’re able to move one set piece away and bring on another complete set from underneath with machines doing it all.  To see that happen in a theatre is stunning.

The other favourite production I’ve worked on is AtG’s La Bohème at the Tranzac Club.  It was the start of Against the Grain Theatre and to hear Puccini in a dingy bar, drinking beer and being sucker punched by the emotional immediacy of the story (in our updated, English version) showed me that opera can exist on a large scale, but equally in a smaller, more intimate setting.





3. In today’s artistic scene, what do you feel are the most important ways to connect and create a new audience, and appreciation for opera?


For me, I want to champion works that I would go and see.  That means collaborating with the best people that I can get.  Aim for the top and then work your way down.  Excellence is attractive.  When it comes to opera, we (unfortunately) still have many stereotypes associated with this nimble art form.  It’s about breaking down barriers and opening the door to everyone in our community.  It may not be for everyone, but may be for more than we think.



A Little too CozyThe Banff Centre
A Little too Cozy The Banff Centre 2015- Joel Ivany Stage Direction-Artists: Brent Calis, Cairan Ryan, Aaron Sheppard, Pascale Spinney, Shantelle Przybylo


4. Who are your Direction influences for stage and music?

When I was in school at the University of Toronto, I was told to go see Robert Carsen productions and Peter Sellars productions.  I watched their productions at the library and was immersed in such creativity.  Both of those men have had major impacts in my life in terms of having met them and then worked with them in Europe and right here at the Canadian Opera Company.  I strive to achieve even an enth of what they’ve accomplished in terms of creativity and artistic impact.

Two other stage directors who impacted my career and motivations are Paul Curran and Thaddeus Strassberger.  They taught me how to be kind, driven and how to have a unique voice in this crazy world.

Musically, I’m a huge fan of Leonard Bernstein.  I’ve listened to his 6 Harvard lectures, “The Unanswered Question” numerous times.  He was an educator, one of those people who crossed the classical music line into mainstream culture and was a genius.




5. And Most Importantly… Favorite type of coffee?


An 8 oz. americano (and a real americano always has 2 shots).


For more information on Joel stay tuned for his website launch January 21st. Also check out his upcoming directorial project in Mozart’s Requiem with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra

And as always, if you are interested in a website, give us a shout, and check us out at


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