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Ghost Tango’s political timbre

A tiny contemporary opera searches for reconciliation


Janice Jackson and R.L. Thompson in Ghost Tango. - ANDREW DAVID TERRIS
  • Andrew David Terris
  • Janice Jackson and R.L. Thompson in Ghost Tango.

Ghost Tango
September 16-19, 8pm
Sir James Dunn Theatre 6101 University Avenue

Bradyworks and Vocalypse's latest joint production, Ghost Tango, tells the story of a Canadian woman facing a moral dilemma–whether to forgive or exact revenge on the man who tortured her during Argentina's Dirty War after fate finds them run aground on a cruise ship decades later. Ghost Tango stars soprano Janice Jackson and baritone R.L. Thompson as the protagonist and her captor–the only two characters to appear on stage.

The minimal cast is only matched by the minimal musical accompaniment. Forgoing an orchestra, Ghost Tango only employs a single musician, electric guitar virtuoso Tim Brady. Brady describes his looping, electronic score as "large, diverse and dramatic." Jackson describes it as "freeing" to her as a vocalist.

Ghost Tango's librettist Douglas Burnet-Smith is married to an Argentinian and carries a deep interest for Argentinian culture and history, and given "carte blanche" to write an opera, he chose to highlight one of the nation's most violent political conflicts.

Director Anne-Marie Donovan believes that the production's premiere is timely, coming as reconciliation is at the forefront of the world's collective mind. Donovan references both the European refugee crisis and Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Report as current events that the metaphors of the show apply to. "It's really a metaphor for how we move past–process–what's happened to us a society and how we move forward together," Donovan says. "Are we going to look for reconciliation or are we going to carry bitterness and anger or revenge? That's the question the opera asks."

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