The Death of Maria
A Drama in Three Acts (2015)
Baritone, Counter Tenor, Soprano (2), Tenor
Maria - Autumn Wascher
William, Maria's Husband - River Guard
Death – Peter Brooks
Violet, Death's Daughter - Midori Marsh
Time - Chad Quigley
Death's Dead Wife - Lauren Barnes
Scene 1: Death sits alone, deep in thought.
Scene 2: Maria is terminally ill. Her husband William enters to tend to her. Death watches from a distance. He listens in peace to her song of sorrow. He sings of her condition and the nature of death. William too, sings passionately about his wife. Unbeknownst to Death, his daughter, Violet, joins in by singing of her fascination with emotion and her desire to feel. Death discovers Violet at the end, and gestures for her to leave.
Scene 3: Death sits alone, again in contemplation. Time enters robustly. The two begin to converse as they stand conflicted, almost in a stand-off for power. Time is the annoying ruler that no one can stand but that everyone has to endure. Death is the highest-ranking employee, who long ago may have questioned his boss, but who has since become passive. An argument ensues. Time announces that the moment has come for Maria to die. Death mindlessly agrees, as Time joyously sings a parting arietta about his enduring role as the adjudicator of life and death. As the stage clears, Death sings of what it means to die.
Scene 1: Maria sits alone, crying.
Scene 2: William enters. He sings his aria, pleading and praying for his wife to return to good health. Death, having witnessed William's plea, remembers his own wife and how he took her life in servitude to Time.
Scene 3: Maria sleeps peacefully. Death looms over her. He looks at her contemplatively until he simply cannot bring himself to kill her. He feels empathetic towards her, and enraged at Time. His emotional journey is experienced throughout the aria The Eternal Sleep. Time, having been witness to Death's rage, leaves the room fearing that he may be overthrown by Death.
Scene 1: Violet sings of how the flowers reflect life’s beauty. Time enters hastily and greets Violet. He tells her of how the winds of time have been angered, and that her father, Death, must die. Violet refuses to assist in the matter. Time forces her into submission through the unbearable noise of the winds. Having no choice but to submit, she reluctantly takes Time's dagger as he noisily exists.
Scene 2: Death sits alone in his chair one last time. He listens closely to the beautiful music of life. Suddenly, the beauty is tossed awry by the screams of his dead wife and the ticking of Time. Death demands answers and order. In a final declaration of silence, Death is fatally stabbed by his daughter, Violet. He collapses, finally understanding death after all his contemplations. The delicate, lofty voice of Death's dead wife then sounds, only being heard and seen by Death. She offers her hand, a symbol of forgiveness for his many years of servitude and evil. He graciously accepts and is led into a peaceful afterlife. Violet becomes terribly conflicted while Time laughs triumphantly, bouncing his way off into the distance.
Scene 3: Maria enters the eternal sleep at the hand of Violet, who has inherited the role of Death.
Scene 4: William sits alone in sorrowful reflection over his recently deceased wife, lamenting in song.
The Dino Opera
A Comedy in One Act (2020)
With Libretto by Michaela Chiste
Bass-Baritone, Mezzo-Soprano, Soprano (2),
Tenor, Early Music Ensemble
Iguannadonna - Bree Horton
Don Ornithiscio - Patrick Simms
Tyrannosaurus-Rex - Camilo Rodriguez-Cuadrado
Pterodactyl - Nansee Hughes
Velociraptor - Adriana Orozco Burbano
The Dino Opera is an original story about family, adversity, co-existence, and dinosaurs!
A chorus of dinosaurs introduces the prehistoric setting for the opera, and we are launched into the adventures of Don Ornithischio and Iguanodonna, a couple of Iguanodon parents-to-be. Their egg is about to hatch, and they hope to find a new home to raise their baby, safe from all the predators that live and surround them nearby.
They embark on their journey to find this new home, but quickly have a close-encounter with the carnivorous and proud Tyrannosaurus- Rex. Following their near-escape, Iguanodonna and Don Ornithischio regroup. Iguanodonna agrees to find some food, while Don Ornithischio watches the egg. He reflects on the nature of being a papasaur, as Iguanodonna returns.
Suddenly, they are surprised by a Pterodactyl, who quickly realizes that eating Iguanodonna and Don Ornithischio would be difficult given their size, and whines about being the worst carnivore. Realizing they won’t be eaten, Iguanodonna and Don Ornithischio ask for her help to find their forever-home. The Pterodactyl agrees and they set out.
Just as they find the beautiful place they imagined, the group is thwarted by the Tyrannosaurus-Rex. However, a gang of Velociraptors emerges and challenges the Tyrannosaurus-Rex. As the argument reaches its climax, the egg hatches. The moment unites the group, and they sing the morale of the opera: even though everyone is different, we all face struggles and overcome them, and the beauty of life is learning to co- exist with one another through the good times and the bad.
A Drama in Three Acts
Baritone (2), Mezzo-Soprano (2),
Soprano (4), Tenor
Dracula - Jorge Trabanco
Renfield - Bree Horton
Mina Seward - Allison Walmsley
Johnathon Harker - Conlan Gassi
Professor Van Helsing - Máiri Demings
Dr. Seward - Camilo Rodriguez-Cuadrado
Lucy / Dracula's Third Wife - Hillary Krutchick
Martin - Bilal Raza
Dracula's First Wife - Alexandra Delle Donne
Dracula's Second Wife - Anca Toma-Scarr
Maid / Scientist - Lynne McIntee
Maid - Sophie Feng
Renfield, a business man, visits Count Dracula to finalize his purchase of a property in London. During his visit, Dracula and his undead wives feed on Renfield, turning him into a servant to Dracula's bidding (Trio: Blood).
The group travel on a ship to London, with Dracula and his wives hiding in coffins. The ship arrives in London, with the crew gone and with Renfield as seemingly the only living passenger. Renfield, raving about consuming life, is brought to Dr. Seward's sanitarium. The events of the ship and discovering Renfield are retold by the Santiarium attendant charged with watching him, named Martin, and the maids (Trio: Crew of Dead Corpses).
That evening, Dracula goes to the symphony (Interlude: At the Symphony) and meets Dr. Seward, his daughter Mina, her fiancée Johnathon, and their friend Lucy. The group sings an old toast to Death (Ensemble: That Old Toast).
Later that night, in Lucy's bedroom, Mina and Lucy chat about Dracula's mysterious nature and allure (Duet: How Romantic!). After Mina leaves, Dracula comes to Lucy and turns her into a vampire.
After more bodies with two small bite marks are discovered Dr. Seward recruits Van Helsing, a professor specializing in the supernatural, to help solve the mystery of Lucy's death and of Renfield's strange behaviour. Dracula sets his sight on Mina next, though Renfield begs him not to (Recitative: Yes,
Master). After Dracula fails to convert Mina because she wakes up mid-bite, Mina recounts the events as though they were a dream to Dr. Seward, Professor Van Helsing, and John Harker (Aria: In the Night). Suddenly, Count Dracula enters the room, meeting Van Helsing as Mina goes back to bed. Helsing and Harker notice that Dracula casts no reflection in the mirror. When confronted with this observation, Dracula storms out, confirming Van Helsing's suspicions that Dracula is a vampire.
While the three men are discussing Dracula, Mina is lured out onto the balcony and later the lawn when she sees Dracula and the recently-dead Lucy. As the scene returns to the three men, Renfield enters and warns Dr. Seward to send Mina away. Before he can complete his warning, Renfield is stopped by telepathic visions sent by Dracula (Duet: No, no master). Van Helsing's questions are put aside when a
maid spots Mina lying still on the lawn. As the scene freezes, Martin reads in the paper that Lucy, the "woman in white," has been converting people into vampires (Monologue: The Mysterious Woman).
Following the frenzy, Mina recounts how she ended up on the lawn to Van Helsing, Dr. Seward, and a very reluctant John Harker who insists Mina leave the sanitarium at once for her safety. In the end, Van Helsing wins the argument and it is agreed Mina is safest locked in her room, which she immediately departs to. Renfield enters and tells of how he became tempted by Dracula and what he has done (Aria: A Red Mist). When Martin tells of Renfield breaking through iron bars, Van Helsing confirms that Dracula is in the house.
Everyone scrambles to check the house, with the exception of Van Helsing, who is soon joined by Dracula (Quintet: Van Helsing!). Thankfully, the presentation of a crucifix saves Van Helsing, repelling Dracula and his Wives.
Meanwhile, John runs to Mina, who has somehow left her locked room and is now on the balcony. They share a romantic moment (Duet: Oh, John!), but when Mina nearly attacks John, she reveals that Dracula has taken control of her. That night, Van Helsing, John, and Seward follow Renfield into Dracula's abbey, where Dracula subdues Renfield. The men find Dracula's coffin and drive a stake through his heart, saving Mina and ending Dracula's dark grasp over their lives (Finale: Master, Master I'm Here!). Van Helsing, alone after all the others have left, is shocked to find that Renfield is not in fact dead and instead will live
on the legacy of Dracula.
A Drama Giacoso in Two Acts (2016)
Baritone, Bass, Soprano (2), Tenor
Demetrius – Peter Brooks
Calisto – Rachel Ginther
Maxime – River Guard
Echo – Midori Marsh
Zeus – Magnus Mee
Hera – Autumn Wascher
Echo is a dynamic opera which can lead to different outcomes in certain scenes depending on the coin flip. These scenes are denoted by an asterisk in the breakdown that follows.
Zeus flips a coin which, unbeknownst to him, decides the fate of the mortals in the opera.
Demetrius is going about business as usual when he discovers the forest nymph Calisto. They try to communicate but are unable to as Calisto speaks the forest tongue (French) and Demetrius only knows English. Calisto sings of her solitude in the forest. Demetrius then seeks the help of his friend Maxime who knows the forest tongue. Maxime warns Demetrius of the dangers of flirting with the forest girls. Demetrius persists and Maxime agrees to help him one more time. Zeus and Hera have a moment in the living room.
Maxime meets Calisto and helps Demetrius. They learn of her devotion to Hera. Maxime tries unsuccessfully to convince Demetrius to run. Maxime is left alone to reflect on the solitary nature of his life while Demetrius and Calisto go on a date.
Demetrius and Calisto have their date. Echo looks on. Maxime surprises her with an introductory greeting. He decides that they could both benefit from leaving their pasts behind, and they leave together. Hera descends to see Demetrius and Calisto. Echo returns to find Calisto in deep trouble. She steps in to allow the new lovers to escape. Hera, having been distracted, takes Echo’s voice.
Maxime returns to find a voiceless Echo. Slowly discovering what has become of her, he curses the names the Gods, demanding justice. The earth rumbles as Zeus descends and declares what will become of the couple.*
Zeus returns home to his wife, Hera. After a performance from some house musicians, Hera screams angrily at Zeus’ inability to find Demetrius and Calisto. She seduces Zeus into continuing his search. Zeus descends to the earth, having found the couples. They plead for their lives in a final quartet. Zeus declares their fate.*
L'étrange et belle
A Drama in One Act (2019)
Baritone, Mezzo-Soprano, Soprano (2)
Valentine - Alysse Chivonne
Axel - Stephanie O’Leary
Reagan - Jorge Trabanco
Lucie - Michaela Chiste
Pompier - Sophie Feng
The opera centres around a schizophrenic young woman named Valentine.
In the opening, Valentine sits alone listening to Christmas music on the radio.
The scene shifts to Axel, her best friend, talking about the joys of the season. Valentine compliments Axel on being smart, and then remarks how her parents never cared about her education, slipping into a manic state. Axel comforts Valentine, bringing her back to ground by talking about how that has been a theme of her life, and empathizing with her. Valentine apologizes, and Axel forgives her, insisting she focus on their strategies of deep breathing and talking to her if anything goes wrong. Out of character, Axel remarks that Valentine does not need to take her medication. Valentine thanks Axel, and both go to prepare Christmas dinner.
Reagan then enters, on his way to go skiing. Valentine asks if he will help her prep the meal as she is the only one working on it. Reagan agrees to help. Valentine is grateful, remarking how comfortable she feels around Reagan [Aria: Je me sens].
Axel reenters and insists that she needs to talk to Valentine, who claims to be busy with Reagan. Axel warns Valentine that he will hurt her, and Valentine asks Axel to leave. Refusing to apologize for trying to protect her, Axel leaves, saying Valentine needs help.
Axel goes to meet Reagan, asking if he's single. Flattered, Reagan replies no, but says he is interested in Valentine. Axel agrees, but declares there is one more suitable for him: Lucie. Reagan agrees to talk to her later.
Lucie is just down the hall, and Axel proceeds to visit her first. She tells Lucie that Reagan has deemed her the most beautiful in the world. Lucie agrees to talk to him, as Axel leaves and Reagan enters. Lucie and Reagan sing of their newfound affection [Duet: Le plus belle]. The two depart downstairs towards the kitchen.
Upon entering the kitchen, Valentine spots them holding hands, asking if they're together. Lucie happily replies that they are, and that Axel set them up. Valentine screams for Axel to come down immediately, calling them all bastards. Axel is happy to see the couple, and asks what's wrong to Valentine. Valentine loses it, declaring she hates everyone and that she will have her vengeance. She storms out.
Axel cries out to Valentine, but it is too late. Lucie notices it smells like something is burning. Indeed, the kitchen has been set on fire by Valentine. Lucie passes out, while Reagan and Axel try the doors to no avail- Valentine has locked them.
The scene shifts to Valentine, alone, listening to Christmas music on the radio. The opera has come full circle. After the fire is fought, the firefighter tells Valentine that there was no one left in the house. Valentine, alone, imagined the entire evening.
A Drama in One Act (2019)
`Louise - Michaela Chiste
La jugement is an emotional musical soliloquy, relaying the story of a young woman battling an eating disorder. Sung in French, the opera may be triggering to those suffering with eating disorders and eating disorder survivors.
Little Red Riding Hood
A Comedy in One Act (2018)
Baritone, Mezzo-Soprano, Soprano (2)
Little Red Riding Hood Rachel Ginther
... her Father Tamas Sandor
... her Grandmother Rachel Vandezande
Wolf Domenico Sanfilippo
Huntress Daniela Agostino
Narrator Alex Morrison
Little Red Riding Hood's House
Little Red Riding Hood is at home with her father, wearing her favourite red cap that her grandma gave her for her birthday [Ariette: My Little Red Cap]. Her father asks Little Red to take a basket of goodies to her sick grandmother, including a piece of cake a “grandma's special grape juice.” Little Red attempts to run out the door, but her father reminds her that she can not leave the path on the way to grandma's. Else, it would not be safe.
Little Red walks joyously through the forest [Ariette: I'm Going to See My Grandmother]. As the walk progresses, a wolf spies her walking along. Little Red was all alone, and the wolf was very hungry. She did not know what a wicked animal he was, and was not afraid of him. The Wolf cordially greets Little Red, who explains she's off to grandma's, with all-too specific details about where that is. The Wolf distracts Little Red into leaving the path by telling her their are pretty flowers to be picked deeper in the woods. With Little Red out of the way, the Wolf proceeds down the path towards grandma [Aria: Dinner Before Dessert].
The Wolf arrives at Grandma's, and pretends to be Little Red. With Grandma's poor eyesight, she doesn't immediately notice it's the wolf, and sings an aria praising Little Red [Aria: My Favourite Grandchild]. The Wolf reveals himself immediately after [Aria: Gobble gobble, gobble gobble!]. Just as he's about to eat Grandma, Little Red can be heard singing in the distance. Quickly, the Wolf tosses Grandmother into the closet, pulls the curtains shut, puts on Grandma’s night cap and jumps right into bed. Little Red enters the house, immediately noticing something isn't right. Just as the Wolf is about to eat Little Red, a trumpet sounds in the distance. Instinctively, the Wolf puts Little Red in the closet and jumps back in bed. Scared of being found out, the Wolf decides to pretend to be the sleeping Grandmother. But he's so tired from his long day of chasing Little Red that he really falls asleep! The Hunstman enters [The Huntsman's Aria], and notices the open door and steps into the house. He attempts to wake the old woman (Wolf), eventually waking the creature, who is terrified of the Hunstman. The Hunstman releases the women from the closet, and all close in on the wolf [Finale: Gobble, gobble (Ah)!]. In the end, the Wolf escapes, the women are rescued, and Grandma gets her special grape juice [Postlude].
Trois tableux (2017)
A man explores the deep trauma of a toxic relationship, unrequited love, and his partner's death.
A Love Story in Two Parts (2020)
Soprano (2), Tenor
Mother - Bree Horton
Father - Camilo Rodriguez-Cuadrado
Dame Gothel - Nansee Hughes
Rapunzel - Adriana Orozco Burbano
The Prince - Patrick Simms
The Kitchen & Garden
Months before Rapunzel’s birth, her pregnant mother is craving a plant in Dame Gothel, her neighbour’s, garden. She sends her husband to steal this plant, called rapunzel, for her. After having to return for a second trip, the husband comes into contact with the witch Dame Gothel, who offers him a deal: either he can give her his firstborn and take the plant for his wife, or return home without it, in which case his wife will die. He reluctantly agrees to surrender the child when it is born, and returns home to make the rapunzel salad.
The witch names the child Rapunzel after the plant her parents stole and puts her in a tower. When the witch wants to enter, Rapunzel drops her hair to allow the witch to climb up. One day, a Prince who is passing by hears Rapunzel singing. He waits and sees the witch ask Rapunzel to let down her hair. Later that day, the Prince asks Rapunzel to let down her hair and climbs up to her. After an awkward proposal, the two agree to take things slow. The Prince leaves and agrees to help Rapunzel escape the tower.
When the witch enters the tower the next day, Rapunzel accidentally reveals that the Prince visited her. The witch cuts off Rapunzel’s hair as punishment and casts her out into the forest. When the Prince returns later, he realizes what has happened and tries to escape. The witch uses her remaining magic to blind the fleeing Prince, but as a result is trapped in the tower forever.
The Prince wanders the forest looking for Rapunzel. Eventually, he hears a familiar voice. The pair reunite, and with their union, the Prince’s sight and Rapunzel’s hair return. The two lovers sing joyously, and are joined by all the characters in the opera for the finale “What a Beautiful Day”.
Rise of the Roaches
A Comedy in Three Acts (2014)
Baritone, Bass (2), Soprano (2), Tenor (2), Chorus
The Roach Queen – Midori Marsh
The Roach King – River Guard
The Brothers – Ivica Balaban & Gary Butler
Athena; Goddess of Wisdom – Alex Brown
Ares; God of War – Dylan Langan
Dionysus; God of Drink and Party – Blair Spry
Roach Henchmen No. 1 – Kasia Czarski
Roach Henchmen No. 2 – Sam Bibby
The opera begins with a disgustingly playful overture. Roach Soprano and Roach Tenor find this music delightful and bask in it's tritonal nature. They declare their love of terror in the duet “Hehe, Haha!” illustrating how they won't be leaving the apartment anytime soon. The duet abruptly ends as the Brothers prepare to enter the apartment, triggering a god-like ding-dong alarm. The Roaches go into hiding as the Brothers enter. The Brothers then complain about the various things that are bothering them. Their complaining climaxes in the duet “Terror on the Way Tonight”. Suddenly Brother 1 has a brilliant idea... to take action! The duet then reprises “War is on the Way Tonight” as the Brothers have become heart-set on eradicating the Roaches. Following the conclusion of the duet, the Brothers seat themselves on one side of the stage, opposite to the Roaches. Somehow the Brothers remain unaware of Roaches.
At centre stage, the three Gods stand up: Athena; Goddess of Wisdom, Ares; God of War, and Dionysus; God of Drink and Party. They immediately begin deliberating over how they should intervene. They firmly believe in taking action related to their godly acclaim: Athena wants peace, Ares wants war, and Dionysus... well he just wants to drink. They agree to intervene but still can not decide on what action to take in the trio “What is on the Way Tonight?” Frustrated at one another, they reluctantly sit down.
The clock strikes midnight as the Roaches and Brothers stand as a scent lingers in the air. They follow their noses to centre stage where they discover the source of the raunchy scent... each-other. Tensions begin to rise in the quartet “You!”. The quartet ends and an epic sword fight ensues. The sword fight is interrupted as the Gods rise and Athena commands a ceasefire. Everyone is confused at both the presence of the Gods and their instructions. Roach Tenor decides to ignore their words and continue to the fight, but is immediately stopped by Ares, who strikes Roach Tenor down. Dionysus pokes fun at Ares' serious nature. An infuriated look from Ares causes Dionysus to apologize. Dionysus walks off-stage to grab an alcoholic beverage, whistling the tune to the “Alcohol” chorus as he goes.
Athena and Ares continue to argue about whether to enforce Peace or War in the duet “The Argument”. The Roaches interject, firing nasty comments and offending the Gods. Roach Tenor really sets them off when he claims to have had sex with Aphrodite (Goddess of Love). Dionysus, hearing the insult, returns laughing with an alcoholic beverage in-hand and a mass-chorus in-tow. Athena and Ares,now infuriated, join sides with the Brothers. Roach Soprano whistles and two Random Roaches join to make the fight a 4 on 4. The mass “Fight to the Death” chorus begins as the sword fight resumes.
The fight ends as Ares fatally wounds Roach Tenor, who falls to the ground screaming. Roach Soprano immediately turns her attention to her wounded husband, collapsing by his side. The battle becomes terribly one-sided as the Random Roaches scream for help but are immediately slain by the Brothers. All crowd around Roach Tenor to deliver the final blow, which is interrupted by his aria “Goodbye my darling!” Following the conclusion of the aria he collapses, dead. Roach Soprano screams. The Brothers then recite a very chant-like passage declaring her death as a tribute to the Gods.They deliver the final strike, but she too begins to sing a reprisal of the aria “Goodbye my darling!” Much to everyone's relief, she dies after the first line of text.
Everyone cheers victoriously Huzzah, Huzzah as the bodies of the Roaches are dragged off-stage by Greek chorus members. The Brothers give their eternal thanks to the Gods, and ask if they would “care for a beverage of the alcoholic variety.” Finally succumbing to their inner desires, the Gods accept the offer. The opera concludes with a mass “Alcohol” chorus.
The Village Girl
A Comedy in One Act (2019)
Baritone, Mezzo-Soprano, Soprano
Agnes (The Village Girl) - Alysse Chivonne
Momma Murphy - Stephanie O’Leary
The Mean Marketer - Jorge Trabanco
The Cow - Michaela Chiste
The opera opens with a joyous chorus [Chorus: Let's Go To The Market!].
At home, Agnes insists to her mother that she is old enough to barter and buy a cow [Duet: I Would Like to Buy the Cow]. She leaves her mother worried, as she departs for the market.
Walking, she notices how nice it is to be free outside [Aria: The Summer Air]. She then finds the Mean Marketer [Duet: Look! The Marketer!]. She attempts to buy a cow, which is clearly visible, but the Marketer insists he doesn't sell cows, denying he has one at his stall. Disappointed and sad, Agnes leaves for home empty-handed.
Back at home, Agnes complains to her mom [Duet: Mom!]. Back at the Market, the Cow moos at the Mean Marketer for his rude decision. The Marketer initially refuses to sell the Cow, despite its pleas, but has a change of heart [Aria: My First Cow]. The Marketer travels to Agnes' house, apologizes for being rude, and agrees to sell the cow. Agnes and her mother are delighted, and all join in the reprise [Finale: Let's Go To The Market].
Commissioned by the Blue Rider Ensemble, this work was premiered at the Blue Elements concerts in Toronto, Waterloo, and Montréal. Pulford's performance is unmatched- illuminating the nuance and delicacy of the composition.
Chromesthesia is a type of synesthesia in which sound involuntarily evokes an experience of colour. After being prompted by a mentor with the same condition, there were 3 days of meditation. Each meditation was on a specific colour and its relationship to sound. This is the resulting composition.
Woman with a Parasol
Piano / String Quartet
The Penderecki String Quartet
Originally written for piano, this piece was adapted for the PSQ.
It is defined by its rich chromaticism and deep grooves-
a personal favourite of the composer's.
Seeing is Believing
Struck by surrealism, a unique triptych was created and musically responded too. The Triptych features:
Seeing is Believing - Roland Penrose
The Enigma of the Hour - Giorgio de Chirico
The Menaced Assassin - René MagritteThe tryptch features
Consequently, the piece is structured in three movements.