Coffee with Rachel Krehm

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 stories. We are super excited to share another story in our series of blogs – Grabbing Coffee. Today’s feature – soprano & producer Rachel Krehm.  As we are designing the upcoming launch of her custom website, we recently caught up with Rachel at Toronto’s Danforth coffee spot, Broadview Espresso. So grab your favourite cup of java and get to know a little about this exciting operatic artist!



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Tell us a little about yourself?


I was born and raised in Toronto. I live with my husband, Evan Mitchell, in the house that I lived in from when I was brought home as a baby until I was 12. I grew up in a really musical family. My great aunt was a concert pianist, Ida Krehm. My father plays clarinet. My mother plays piano (both jazz and classical) and recorder. My little sister, Liz, played piano, violin and steel drum. For a while as a kid, we had two pianos at home, a harpsichord and a steel drum (and of course a violin and like fifteen clarinets.) So I was exposed to classical music and opera as a very young child and it was never a strange thing in my household. Not much has changed now, except my husband is a conductor and what he calls “a recovering percussionist.” So it is just a few different instruments around the house: a piano, marimba, all sorts of percussion gear hidden in various spots, and a theremin! So I guess it would have been very difficult for me to not have been bitten by the music bug!




Rachel as Rosalinde with Michael Barrett as Eisenstein- Die Fledermaus- Opera 5.


Being an artist, singer, and producer, what inspires you with the genre of opera?


Opera was something I fell in love with as a child. When I finished up at McGill, I was really interested in trying to produce opera and so I founded Opera 5, with other McGill grads who were also interested in producing shows. What really inspires me now is being able to work on an opera production from the inception of the idea through to the performance and to follow closely all the steps which are required to produce an opera. With Opera 5 productions, I have sung in them, stage managed, handled all the behind the scenes administration of contracts, scheduling, granting, fundraising etc, collected props, painted sets, built sets, made shadow puppets, been the orchestra personnel manager and librarian, and more. I feel that now that I have worn so many hats, I have such a greater appreciation of the art form and what it takes to get a show on its feet. It is truly incredible! On top of this, I have met so many phenomenal artists, musicians, directors, designers and crew who all do such tremendous jobs to get a show on its feet. It truly takes so many people working together to create the magic of a show, and knowing and understanding what each person does makes me appreciate what a fabulous genre this is!



Opera 5 Members: Aria Umezawa, Maikai Nash & Rachel Krehm


How can opera reach new audiences in Canada?


Well, this is something that I have been concerned with since creating Opera 5 about 5 years ago. I think that more intimate and relevant opera is key to attracting new audiences of the next generation. But what does this mean? Well, at Opera 5, we like to include elements in our productions that aren’t necessarily traditional to opera. We have done a show with a fully interactive party, addressed feminism, included hip hop elements, paired operas with food, and more. All of these efforts keep our guests interested and engaged, but we continue to include the operatic ideas which may be more familiar, so we can engage both traditional and modern audiences. On top of this, we perform in small halls to audiences of 100-200 people. This provides a closeness to the artists that one cannot achieve in a big house, which I think can intensify the experience for someone who doesn’t already love opera. That is what we do, but there is a core group of amazing independent opera companies in Toronto who are all trying to address reaching new audiences in different ways. You can check out the whole Indie Opera T.O crew here.




Rachel in Opera 5’s production of La Voix Humaine

What’s coming up next for you?


I have three shows coming up in the next month: Friday Oct 27, I am singing “Two Dreams” by Cecilia Livingston with Ton Beau quartet. Find out about the show here. It has been so fun to prepare and work on.
On Monday Oct 30, I am a member of the “Whose Opera is it Anyway?!” improv crew performing at Comedy Bar. Find about about the show here.We always have a ton of fun playing improv opera games. Not every game is about rhyming, but it still terrifies me to improv and rhyme in front of people. So I have to admit, much of my  preparation for this show has been me making up rhyming songs that I sing to my kitty Apollo. Apollo seems indifferent to most of the songs, but likes them if I am giving him a belly rub. But beer works for people like belly rubs do for kitties, right?
After that on November 14 at Christ Church Deer Park, I will be singing Mahler’s “Rückert Lieder” at the fifth Annual Elizabeth Krehm Memorial Concert. 5 years ago, on November 17, 2012, my little sister Liz passed away after a month in the ICU at St. Michael’s Hospital. My family was so grateful for the exemplary care she received, that we wanted to give back to the hospital, in Liz’s name. So this is the fifth concert we have produced and over the first four concerts, we have raised over $60,000 for the hospital. This year we have a 52 piece orchestra, and along with the Mahler, a piece by Jean Coulthard and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony no 6 will be performed. Evan Mitchell, my husband, will be leading the orchestra, my dad plays clarinet, Yosuke Kawasaki, concertmaster of the National Arts Centre in Ottawa will be joining us, and the fabulous musicians that make up the rest of the orchestra come from Toronto, Kitchener, Kingston, Hamilton, Thunder Bay and Ottawa. Find out more about the show here. 






And most importantly… favourite type or style of coffee?


I know this is sacrilegious, but I am more of a tea drinker thank a coffee drinker. Shame…That said, I do enjoy a good latte. I also have fond memories of coffee growing up. My dad is a HUGE coffee drinker and every evening after work, he would make himself a large Turkish coffee, drink it, have a nap and then be up most of the night. I still love the smell of the boiling Turkish coffee and sugar mingling together.



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