Current Opera 5 Members
A multi-faceted artist, soprano Rachel Krehm is the co-founder and General Director of Opera 5. As a performer she works in opera, new music, art song, improvisation, and voice and web-series acting. Along with performing, she is a writer and producer. In 2019, Rachel performed the title role of Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos with Highlands Opera Studio where her performance was described as “soulful” by Opera Canada. She has performed Poulenc’s La voix humaine multiple times, most recently with Toronto City Opera, where her performance was described as “a breathtaking virtuoso performance of boundless passion and seemingly limitless musicality” by Opera Going Toronto.
She is a regularly featured actor in the popular web-series, Opera Cheats. Rachel is also a founding member of Canada’s only opera improv team Whose Opera is it Anyway which performed monthly improvised sketch comedy featuring operatic singing at comedy clubs in Toronto and festivals around Ontario. Rachel is an avid contributor to the independent opera scene in Toronto. Aside from co-founding and running Opera 5, she sits on the Executive committee of Indie Opera T.O., the association of independent opera companies in Toronto.
An avid believer in new creation, Rachel works in commissioning, workshopping, and creating Canadian art song and opera. In 2018, she premiered an orchestral song cycle by Vancouver based composer Ryan Trew on texts by her late sister Elizabeth Krehm called Come Closer. Rachel has now created a libretto to expand this work into a chamber opera with Ryan Trew. The opera explores the relationship of sisters complicated by drug addiction and separated by death and include writing by both of the sisters weaved together through memories, dreams, and conversations. Come Closer saw development workshops with Pacific Opera Victoria’ Artist Residency program in June 2022 and Opera McGill’s Beta Lab in the spring of 2022. The commission is generously supported by the Canada Council for the Arts. Come Closer receives another workshop with McGIll University in November 2023.
Through the pandemic, Rachel co-wrote, produced, and performed in the Threepenny Submarine pilot, which is Opera 5’s new web series that follows puppets Lydian and Iona on deep sea adventures and combines puppetry and opera in collaboration with Gazelle Automations. Supported by the Canada Council for the Arts, eight more episodes will be created and released on November 1, 2023. In the fall of 2021 Rachel sang Trew’s Come Closer with the Kingston Symphony Trew’s and then she will perform selections from Anna Pidgorna’s new opera Plaything with Société de musique contemporaine du Québec and Musique 3 Femmes. In the fall of 2022, Rachel traveled to Berlin for the world premiere of the completed Plaything with Musique 3 Femmes and ufaFabrik. Rachel recently sang Come Closer with North York Concert Orchestra in Toronto in June 2023 and will sing it again with the Thunder Bay Symphony in November 2023 and she will sing Miss Jessel with Opera 5 in June 2024.
Jessica Derventzis began her career in the arts with studies in piano performance at Queen’s University where she simultaneously worked as an accompanist for opera productions and collaborating with singers in the Voice Department. Following graduation, Jessica taught theatre studies at the High School level for 5 years directing over twenty productions while mentoring her students to achieve a well-rounded theatrical education, including acting, designing, technical theatre, and theatre history. Leaving teaching to pursue a professional career in opera, her most recent directing credits include: Suffragette (Opera 5), Die Zauberflöte, La Bohème (Opera Kelowna), The Medium, L’Heure Espagnole (Stu&Jess Productions), Cinderella (Calgary Opera School Tour), Dido and Aeneas (Opera McGill), and La Voix Humaine (Little Opera on the Prairie). Jessica had the privilege of directing the Canadian premiere of Ned Rorem’s Our Town with Opera Nuova in 2015. She has also assisted for many internationally acclaimed directors at the major opera companies in Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, and Vancouver as well for Canadian Stage/Tapestry Opera/Vancouver Opera’s co-production of “The Overcoat: a Musical Tailoring”.
Jessica is also very active in the indie opera scene. Championing new Canadian works and female-driven projects are at the heart of her fiercest endeavours. She started her own company called Stu&Jess Productions. They have produced three productions so far in Montreal in eclectic and unique venues. She is also an executive member of the Indie Opera Toronto collective. Most recently, she was awarded the Metcalf Foundation Performing Arts Internship grant for 2018 to work with Tapestry Opera on directing, dramaturgy, and artistic direction. Coming up, she will be directing “Il Barbieri di Siviglia” with Opera 5, assisting on two projects with Tapestry Opera for Pride Toronto and the Luminato Festival, as well as assisting for Brott Opera in Hamilton.
Evan Mitchell is proving to be one of Canada’s most innovative and sought-after young conductors. Mr. Mitchell is currently the music director of the Kingston Symphony. Over the course of his residencies as assistant conductor of the Vancouver and Kitchener-Waterloo Symphonies respectively, Mr. Mitchell conducted over 200 concerts, acted as a Canadian ambassador during an historic two week tour of China, Korea and Macau, and served as an official consultant to the Vancouver Olympic Committee and Assistant Producer for the recording of the medal ceremony national anthems. Over the course of his career, Mr. Mitchell has brought the magic of orchestral music to over 400,000 students and children, many of whom experienced this incredible music for the very first time.
In addition to his musical achievements, Mr. Mitchell has been profiled extensively for his commitment to concert initiatives. He has been personally responsible for the writing, recording and production of behind-the-scenes concert video series, podcasts aimed at the layperson, and visual enhancements during concerts in order to give a richer, more informed experience to concert-goers. His videos have been widely featured abroad for both publicity and educational purposes, and his initiative using smartphones as a “silent tour guide” during live concerts in real-time was hailed as the best technological innovation in the symphony concert hall of 2014 by the CBC. Mr. Mitchell’s digital and concert initiatives have been described as an ‘overwhelmingly welcome breath of fresh air’ with regards to audience involvement and depth of live concert experience.
Hailed as an “exciting dramatic soprano” (Opera Canada) and for her “command over a powerful range of expressive emotion” (The Whole Note), Jaclyn Grossman is a soprano, curator, and administrator from Toronto, Canada. This season she makes her debut as Freia in Das Rheingold with Edmonton Opera and she joins the Buffalo Philharmonic as the soprano soloist in Beethoven’s 9th Symphony under JoAnn Falletta.
She was recently a resident artist with Pacific Opera Victoria’s Civic Engagement Artist Residency and the Rebanks Family Fellowship with Toronto’s Royal Conservatory. Jaclyn is passionate about fostering community and connection and is deeply committed to supporting local groups and nonprofits. She is the Founder of The Phoenix Leadership Project and the creator/facilitator of the Association for Opera in Canada’s RBC Artist Fellowship/Mentorship. Jaclyn also has a research and performance specialization in Jewish music from the Holocaust with her duo, Likht Ensemble.
In her various roles, Jaclyn thrives on singing opera and art song, discovering new repertoire, sharing music from the Holocaust, working with a community of artists, exploring how artists can better engage with the opera sector, developing leadership programs, and above all, connecting with others.
Past Opera 5 Members
With her quirky, irreverent style, Aria Umezawa (she/her)’s work evokes wonder and challenges the
long-established traditions of opera and classical music. The stage director, producer, and writer is a co-
founder of Amplified Opera, the independent, equity-seeking opera company and current Disruptor-in-
Residence at the Canadian Opera Company. Aria was the Artistic Director of Opera 5 from 2012-17.
Recent and upcoming engagements include Toshio Hosokawa’s The Raven with Opera Philadelphia, A
Midsummer Night’s Dream with Vancouver Opera, and Madama Butterfly with New Orleans Opera.
Aria completed two years as an Adler Fellow at San Francisco Opera, a position she earned after her San
Francisco debut as a Merola Apprentice Stage Director. Her staging of the Merola Grand Finale was
lauded by the San Francisco Chronicle: “Over the decades, I’ve never seen the job dispatched with the
elegance, verve and sheer theatrical imagination that Aria Umezawa brought to it on Saturday night in
the War Memorial Opera House. This young Canadian artist… marshalled her fellow Merolini with the
dexterity of an experienced master.”
Directing highlights include Christmas with SOL3 MIO with San Francisco Opera, Thomas’ Hamlet with
West Edge Opera, and Poulenc’s La voix humaine with Against the Grain Theatre. Aria has directed the
Canadian premieres of Milton Granger’s Talk Opera and Darren Russo’s Storybook (commissioned by
Opera 5), and the world premiere of The Queen In Me (nominated for five DORA Awards), co-directed
with Andrea Donaldson, and produced by the Canadian Opera Company, Amplified Opera, Nightwood
Theatre, and Theatre Gargantua.
An advocate for safe, equitable practices in the opera and performing arts industries, Aria is in demand
as a presenter and educator. In 2018 she developed Safe to Run: Bystander Intervention Training for the
Rehearsal Room with Opera McGill and the San Francisco Opera Center, and has run the workshop at
opera companies across North America. That same year she was a speaker on the Gender Equity in
Opera panel at the inaugural Opera.ca Opera Changing Worlds Education Summit. With OPERA America,
Aria has presented on Anti-Harassment Policies and Stage Intimacy Techniques (2019) and Building a
Healthier Company Culture for Artists (2020), and has contributed as a panelist on Managing the
Challenges of the Inherited Repertoire (2020), and Breaking Down Gatekeeping (2021). She was an
artistic consultant on a new co-production of Madama Butterfly with Opera in the Heights and Pacific
Opera Projects. Website: ariaumezawa.com.
Hawaiian pianist, Maika’i Nash, is from an exciting new generation of vocal coaches and pianists in North America. Previously a vocal coach and répétiteur in Toronto and Bogotá, Colombia, he has now joined the Hawaii Opera Theatre team in the beautiful capital city of Hawaii, Honolulu. He has collaborated with a number of singers throughout North & South America and Europe and maintains a rigorous coaching and performing schedule internationally.
Maika’i has worked with a number of opera companies including the Canadian Opera Company, Teatro Colón, Teatro Mayor, Opera de Colombia, Hawaii Opera Theatre, Pacific Opera Victoria, Opera Lyra, Opera 5, SOLT, Cowtown Opera, Opera Tchai and on a 20-city tour with Jeunesses Musicales du Canada. He has also been engaged as the official accompanist for the Metropolitan Opera Council Auditions for a number of years and has also collaborated and recorded with renowned singers such as Richard Margison, Quinn Kelsey, Audrey Luna, Barry Banks, Mark Doss, Leslie-Ann Bradley & Martha Senn.
An avid educator, Maika’i has been on faculty at the COSI Opera Festival in Sulmona, International Vocal Arts Institute in Montreal, Summer Opera Lyric Theater in Toronto and the Orford Centre for the Arts in Orford, Quebec. He has given masterclasses in the United States, Canada, Colombia and in Europe.