Nikkei Canadian settler Teiya Kasahara 笠原 貞野 (they/them) is a queer/trans non-binary opera singer and theatre creator based in Tkarón:to (Toronto). Recently featured in the CBC short-doc OPERA TRANS*FORMED, Teiya is a graduate of the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio and the 2022 recipient of the Joseph S. Stauffer Prize in Music (Canada Council for the Arts).
Heralded as “a force of nature” (Toronto Star), a “commanding presence” (Theatre Reviewer), and “an artist with extraordinary things to say” (The Globe and Mail), Teiya has nearly 20 years of experience singing both traditional and contemporary operatic roles across North America and Europe. Highlights include engagements with the Canadian Opera Company, Edmonton Opera, Vancouver Opera, Vancouver Symphony, Toronto Symphony, Windsor Symphony, Against the Grain Theatre, Aalto-Essen Musiktheater (Germany), Opéra Toulon, Tapestry Opera, the Luminato Festival with Beverley Glenn Copeland, and Theatre Gargantua, among others.
For the 2022/2023 season, Teiya is a resident artist with re:Naissance Opera’s Indie Fest, developing new works including Imaginarium; Inferno, a new hip hop opera by Omari Newton and Amy Lee Lavoie; a live computer animated performance of Eurydice: Into the Underworld; and a concert with BIPOC Voices. They are also covering the title role in Salome with the Canadian Opera Company, and returns to the COC to perform the Priestess & Bartender in the premiere of Marshall and Hale’s Pomegranate later in the season. They will also be seen singing the soprano solo in Beethoven‘s Symphony No. 9 (Kingston Symphony Orchestra) and Orff’s Carmina Burana (Amadeus Choir). Upcoming engagements also include Japanese opera Nae by Kokichi Kusano, a new opera by composer Rita Ueda, and video opera The Future’s Market by Douglas Rodger and Kong Kie Njo.
Teiya is known for their signature interpretations of Queen of the Night/The Magic Flute (Canadian Opera Company, Essen, Vancouver, Edmonton, Kitchener, Halliburton), Fata Morgana/L’Amour des Trois Oranges (Essen), and the title role of Madama Butterfly (Windsor Symphony; as the cover at the Canadian Opera Company). Other vocal highlights in Teiya’s career include performing alongside Polaris Prize and Juno award winner Jeremy Dutcher for his Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa album (2018 – present), debuting with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 (2022), and performing the lead role in Dead Equal (a newly commissioned opera) at the 2019 Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
During the global pandemic (2020-2021), Teiya also created their first video series 19 VIDEOS FOR COVID-19 which garnered them the nickname, “the balcony soprano” (Toronto Star). Other content during this period included the digital debut of the ongoing Butterfly Project (Confluence Concerts, Amplified Opera), and various digital offerings including S.O.S.: Sketch Opera Singers (Tapestry Opera), Electric Messiah (Soundstreams), and Symphonic Pride (Vancouver Symphony Orchestra).
Within their own artistic practice, Teiya explores the intersections of gender, sexuality, and race using elements of opera, theater, and electronics, as both creator and performer, noted in their first original work The Queen In Me which had its world premiere in June 2022 at the Canadian Opera Company (co-produced by the COC, Amplified Opera, Nightwood Theatre, Theatre Gargantua). The Queen In Me was a sold-out success and was nominated for five Dora Mavor Moore awards (2022). The show just returned from touring the Belfast International Arts Festival where it was praised as “a radical, innovative piece of operatic art.” Click here to learn more about The Queen In Me.
Head over to Teiya’s website to learn more about their work as a creator, including Little Mis(s)gender, 夜 Yoru, and River Island; as co-founder of Amplified Opera [Canadian Opera Company’s first Disruptor-in-Residence] and Queer AF Collective; and as consultant and masterclass clinician.