A Day in the Life of Michael Mori, Artistic Director of Tapestry Opera

Michael Mori
My staging of Whisky Opera excerpt in a freight elevator in the distillery, November 2014 Carla Huhtanen, Krisztina Szabo, Keith Klassen (Dahlia Katz)

Michael Mori is the Artistic Director of Tapestry Opera—Canada’s largest producer of contemporary opera—but he’s also a stage director, singer, dancer, chef, mountain climber and stubborn cyclist. When the sink is leaking, he’s also pretty adept with a toolbox. All of these pursuits and hobbies give him a unique and down-to-earth perspective, which means he approaches his creative projects from many different angles. You really don’t need to be an opera lover to enjoy Tapestry’s productions, because Michael is committed to creating experiences that can resonate with anyone living in the 21st century.

Michael Mori
My brother Matthew and I after visiting with family in Japan.

He has the background you might expect someone in his position would: an impressive performance career beginning in childhood; North American and European appearances, awards and recordings; and multiple degrees and diplomas in his field. But what’s cooler is how he uses that training to fuel his drive to create an operatic ecosystem in Canada that reflects and responds to our country’s diverse population, and issues that are relevant today.

Michael Mori
Carrying the torch at the pan-am games… and getting to hand it off to Chris Hadfield later!

One of my favourites is his new, exploratory series for Tapestry called Tap:Ex, which collides opera with other artistic forms like electronica and punk. He has also spearheaded the creation of Indie Opera TO, an association of small companies in Toronto who are shaking up the opera scene with a younger, alternative approach (including a company I helped to found, Against the Grain Theatre). Last year, after working in the city for only four years, Michael was named one of ten Torontonians to watch by the Toronto Star. As someone who is cheering him on from the sidelines, I agree that keeping an eye on the many exciting things he’s up to means you’ll never be bored!

– Caitlin Coull (Michael’s girlfriend)

Michael Mori
Photo outside of our office in the Distillery

1: my staging of Whisky Opera excerpt in a freight elevator in the distillery, November 2014 Carla Huhtanen, Krisztina Szabo, Keith Klassen (Dahlia Katz)
2: My brother Matthew and after visiting with family in Japan.
3: Carrying the torch at the pan-am games… and getting to hand it off to Chris Hadfield later!
4: Photo outside of our office in the Distillery
5: Hiking in the Canmore area of the Rockies
6: Introducing emerging artists at the Tapestry Songbook (Dahlia Katz)
7: The fantastic singers and pianists of the Tapestry Songbook, including Wallis Giunta, mezzo-soprano and Jordan de Souza conductor. (Dahlia Katz)
8: Singing with Tapestry founder, Wayne Strongman on the keys at Tapestry’s 35th anniversary celebration,… to the delight of Jean Stillwell! (Dahlia Katz)

Michael Mori
Hiking in the Canmore area of the Rockies

What neighbourhood do you live in?

I live in the Upper Beaches, bordering on Little India, but I also spend a lot of time in Riverside. The east side of Toronto feels like home!

What do you do and where?

I am the Artistic Director of a small company with big ambition, Tapestry Opera, which is dedicated to the evolution of opera as a relevant and living art form. Tapestry has been around for 36 years and is based out of the Distillery District (very conveniently located next to Balzac’s – best coffee in town.)

Michael Mori
Introducing emerging artists at the Tapestry Songbook (Dahlia Katz)

What are you working on right now? / Where can we see your work?

We’re presenting Scottish Opera this week in its North American debut with The Devil Inside at Harbourfront Centre Theatre on March 10, 12 and 13. Although that’s the project taking most of my time and attention at the moment, I’m also preparing to direct new productions of Dead Man Walking, Rocking Horse Winner, and The Pencil Salesman in Toronto and abroad over the next the next three months.

Michael Mori
The fantastic singers and pianists of the Tapestry Songbook, including Wallis Giunta, mezzo-soprano and Jordan de Souza conductor. (Dahlia Katz)

This week Tapestry presents The Devil Inside at the Harbourfront Centre Theatre on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday (March 10, 12 and 13). In April you can fly to Fresno to see my direction and new production of Dead Man Walking at the Fresno Grand Opera and in May Rocking Horse Winner will be at the Berkeley St. Theatre in Toronto. If you are a lover of more rural Ontario, you can see The Pencil Salesman at the gorgeous Westben Festival in Cambellford in June. Otherwise, we stick mostly to our digs in the Distillery District.

Michael Mori
Singing with Tapestry founder, Wayne Strongman on the keys at Tapestry’s 35th anniversary celebration,… to the delight of Jean Stillwell! (Dahlia Katz)

 

Learn more about Tapestry Opera on their website – https://tapestryopera.com

 

Joel Levy
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Editor-In-Chief at Toronto Guardian. Photographer and Writer for Toronto Guardian and Joel Levy Photography