Canadian stage director Julie McIsaac has been selected as the inaugural Director/Dramaturg-in-Residence with the Canadian Opera Company. The year-long residency is the newest addition to the COC Academy, the company’s professional development program for young opera artists, creators, and administrators. During her residency, McIsaac acted as Assistant Director on Ivany's 2020 production of Hansel and Gretel (COC) and will stage the upcoming COC commission Fantasma, composed by COC Composer-in-Residence Ian Cusson and with a text by librettist Colleen Murphy.
McIsaac is a stage director, dramaturg, playwright/librettist, and multi-instrumentalist, whose projects are inspired by Canada’s complex history. Through her work, McIsaac is reshaping and revitalizing the stories told on stage and, in the process, aims to bring more attention to the diverse composition of the country’s local communities.
“Julie’s voice as a storyteller is wonderfully textured,” says COC General Director Alexander Neef. “With her background in classical piano, voice, languages, and theatre, she is uniquely equipped for the challenge of staging new opera that shakes up all expectations of the genre for today’s audiences. With the COC Academy, we are providing emerging artists like Julie with comprehensive development opportunities and creating a supportive environment for learning and exploration.”
McIsaac earned her Master’s degree in Theatre from the University of York (UK) and is also a graduate of Carleton University (Music) and the Canadian College of Performing Arts (Theatre Performance and Playwriting). A four-time Jessie award nominee, she is an Associate Artist with Firepot Performance and a founding member of the Honest Fishmongers. As Artist-in-Residence at Pacific Opera Victoria from 2016 to 2018, McIsaac staged Le nozze di Figaro for Opera Studio (Victoria Conservatory of Music) and created an original series of opera presentations for young audiences, staging excerpts from The Magic Flute, Jenůfa, and La Bohème. She has collaborated with theatre giants Atom Egoyan and Peter Hinton, and was stage director for the world premiere of Beauty’s Beast (East Van Opera).