First Wednesday 13 :: What the Fach?

Wednesday, December 6, from 6 to 8 PM
McLuhan House (11342 – 64 Street)*

Turn out. Tune up. Drop in!
Light refreshments provided. Admission is Pay What You Can.
Register at Eventbrite to R.S.V.P!

Questions? Contact Chelsea Boos at 780.474.0907 |

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6 P.M. // Understanding History of Opera, by Stuart MacKay
Join Stuart for insights on the history, social environment, and meaning of Opera. Our resident McLuhan scholar will illuminate the subject with his knowledge of Marshall’s published works, ancestry, and personal legend. Building on the legacy of McLuhan’s indomitable curiosity about media, the McLuhan link is celebrated through ongoing partnerships with Stuart MacKay (retired librarian, McLuhan genealogist, historian, and Marshall’s cousin-once-removed).

7 P.M. // New Media Seminar: Simulcasting and the Future of Opera, by Brianna Wells
Operatic interactions with technologies and media date to the earliest opera-like spectacles in sixteenth-century Italy. From the stage business, lighting and acoustics found in operatic performance, to the changing landscape of music printing and its consequent impact on the circulation of operatic music, one might argue that opera history is media history. In the twentieth century, convergence with phonography, radio and television broadcasting had a profound impact on the ways that audiences access opera in Canada and the United States. The operas, singers, and traditions of performance that have become most familiar are in many cases those that have been mobilized by recording and broadcast media.

Since 2006, a new medium – or perhaps an intermedium – has produced a seismic shift in the ways that opera reaches its publics. Operatic simulcasting involves a live-stream narrowcast of a real-time operatic performance via digital distribution. Movie theaters around the world are the venues for the Metropolitan Opera’s annual Live In HD series, but other opera companies in Canada and the U.S. have turned to uniquely civic venues like the Dallas Cowboys’ football stadium, San Francisco’s City Hall, Philadelphia’s Freedom Mall and Montreal’s Molson Stadium as simulcast venues.

Simulcasting is a way for companies to reach beyond their geographic boundaries and, hopefully, find new publics. This October, for example, Edmonton Opera simulcast its production of The Lilies to Red Deer—a first for the company, and possibly the province. Opera simulcasting invites us to consider the ways that we access opera, and how that access frames our expectations of the medium. The ways that we perform opera, attend (to) opera, understand it, and what we expect it to do are bound up in how and where we find it. These issues are amplified in simulcasting because of its technical and cinematic access to performance. In particular, increased visual access to the bodies of performers illuminates issues of race and gender in both casting and repertoire selection—issues that have been part of opera production in North America for quite some time. How will companies engage with the opportunities, affordances, and challenges presented by simulcasting, and what role might it have for the future of opera more generally?

Guest Biography
Brianna Wells received her PhD from U of A’s Department of English and Film Studies in November 2017. Her research explores the interrelations of opera-texts, opera industry, media technologies, social protocols and popular culture in North America. Her doctoral work was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. In addition to her dissertation, she has been working on a book project that explores the western Canadian opera industry and the career of director Irving Guttman. She has published in 19th Century Music and Opera America Magazine. As a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Alberta’s new Sound Studies Initiative, Brianna is helping to build an interdisciplinary network that connects researchers on campus—and beyond it—who share an interest in the creation, reception, politics, organization, mediation, meaning, or aesthetics of sounds.
Click Here to read her recent writing on “Secret Mechanism”: Les Contes d’Hoffmann and the Intermedial Uncanny in the Metropolitan Opera’s Live in HD Series

About the Program
Join the social and cultural community of McLuhan House. Meet artists, researchers, and local residents who are continuing Marshall McLuhan’s legacy of probing new media in the global village! First Wednesday offers opportunities to engage on different topics of importance to our future at the intersection of social history, art, communications, and technology.

R.S.V.P. today to reserve your place!

About McLuhan House
In January 2016, McLuhan House opened as an interpretive space for Marshall McLuhan’s life and legacy. It was designated a municipal historic resource and restored by Arts Habitat, with support from the City of Edmonton and Edmonton Arts Council. McLuhan was a famous Canadian professor, media critic and author who lived in Edmonton at the historic 1912 McLuhan Residence until 1915.

Arts Habitat acknowledges that McLuhan House is situated on the land of Treaty 6 territory, a traditional meeting ground, travelling route and home to many Aboriginal peoples. We are uninvited guests of the Cree, Blackfoot, Nakoda, Iroquois, Dene, Chipewyan/Ojibway/Saulteaux/Anishinaabe, Tsuu T’ina, Inuit, Metis and many others whose languages, cultures, and practical relationships to the land create a rich heritage for our learning and our life in the community of Edmonton, an area also known in the Cree language as amiskwaciwâskahikan (Beaver Hills House) or pehonan (meeting place).

Participant Information
*Parking is available at the back for people with limited mobility. Nearest Bus Routes are 2, 8, 141, 142.
Please note, the historic house is not wheelchair accessible.

Seminar discussions are recorded for archival purposes. You may also find us on Periscope by visiting @madria40. Attendees and guardians of participants under 18 will be requested to sign an image and audio release form.

We honour everyone’s right to actively participate in the discussion and endeavour to create a place for wide representation across discipline, class, gender, race, sexual orientation, age and ability. Oppressive language or behaviour will not be tolerated.

We ask everyone who attends to:

  • Contribute to a safer space
  • Show care and consideration
  • Keep an open mind to other perspectives
  • Listen well and do not interrupt
  • Validate one another’s feelings and experiences
  • Encourage empathy
  • Refrain from judgement
  • Respect each other’s pronouns and identities
  • Be accountable for your words and actions

Thank you for helping make McLuhan House an inclusive environment for all!

Seminars work the best if everyone is free to:
Play, Doodle, Draw, Have Fun!
Speak with their mind and heart;
Facilitate their self and others;
Link and connect ideas;
Contribute their thinking, and
Listen together for patterns, insights, and deeper connections.

Space is limited. Please reserve your seat at!