Inspiration tends to run in currents. Christina and I have always been attracted to the idea of “north”. Though we are lucky to live in a part of the world that (usually) experiences a beautiful summer and fall, we resonate deeply with the magic and tranquility that comes from a long, cold, blustery winter. The “first ever” Xara show in 2008 was called “Aurora”, and brought to life the magic of the northern lights woven with the Swedish Sancta Lucia ceremony of carols. That current of inspiration led us to what we hope will become a new winter tradition – Tales of the Old North.
We knew that we wanted to build a show that was wintery, magical, and had a hopeful message that our audiences could connect with. When I came across the stunning images by Kay Nielsen for a collection of Scandinavian folk tales, I knew that THIS was the world we should build onstage. I frantically called Christina: “FOUND IT!” The elegant, rich, fantastical aesthetic was something that we both fell in love with instantaneously. Working with the original source text and images, we’ve also infused the story with Nova Scotian folklore and gorgeous pieces of contemporary choral music. We are putting our own “Xara magic” on this traditional story.
I’m so excited about this show, not only because it marks the first in what will hopefully become a joyful winter tradition for Xara and our audiences. But also because we have an amazing team of people working on the project – 45 incredible singers (including tenors and basses! gasp!), our brilliant composer-in-residence & collaborative pianist Jenny Trites, and lighting designer extraordinaire Matthew Downey, as well as some new Xara collaborators: actor/director/playwright Jennette White as our Narrator, and otherworldly costume designer Matthew Peach, coming all the way from Berlin to add a new dimension of extravagance to the visuals. It’s a huge “tale” – but we hope it will light up our audience’s imaginations at a time of year when the darkness of winter starts to close in.