Stitch: press

“Nowhere was the creative spirit as keenly felt this past year as in some small-scale opera productions by bright young things. Each piece, in its own way, is opera for right now, and all the stronger for it. The best of the lot was Stitch, an a cappella opera that used the sights and sounds of a sewing sweatshop to tell compelling musical and personal stories. Librettist Anna Chatterton and composer Juliet Palmer were inspired… The singers, seated at their sewing machines inside a circle formed by the small audience, had to confront their listeners as well as each other on a particularly intimate scale.” — John Terauds, Toronto Star

“…imaginatively conceived by director Ruth Madoc-Jones and lighting designer Kimberly Purtell. Palmer’s music deliciously captures Chatterton’s witty text. The pièce de resistance is the Cowl Neck Blues, a hurtin’ song made up entirely of sewing vocabulary which sports such delightful phrases as “don’t hemline me”… [Stitch] is a triumph for all the artists.” — Paula Citron, Classical 96.3 FM

“We won’t look at a Singer sewing machine quite the same way after Stitch… The strong opening, staged in near darkness by director Ruth Madoc-Jones in the gallery’s front room, featured the three female singers ripping fabric and humming with increasing ferocity, like soul sisters to Wagner’s Norns. The whirs and clicks of the sewing machines provided fascinating percussion, and the singers rose to the challenges of Palmer’s range of musical styles, from lyrical three-part harmonies to raunchy blues numbers.” — Glenn Sumi, NOW Magazine

“A rogue brace of creative spirits cuts through the couture and sweeps us straight into a sewing sweatshop in Stitch. Billed as ‘an a cappella opera for three women and three sewing machines,’ it crosses so many genres as to be in a category of its own… Imagine an opera presented outside a theatre, without a stage or orchestra. It doesn’t seem like opera at all – until you realise how much a librettist, composer and three vocalists can accomplish with the simplest of means. That’s an art.” — John Terauds, Toronto Star

“The sound of the show is an extraordinary melding of lyric singing, sung speech – a very different kind of vocalizing – and the whir of the sewing machines… Obviously Stitch is in part a social commentary but we’re not being clobbered over the head with a message. Stitch is also about exploring where an idea, in this case women and sewing, can be taken in terms of a piece of sung performance. This is, after all, experimental contemporary opera. It aims to tread new ground. Juliet Palmer, the composer and Anna Chatterton, who wrote the often very witty libretto, are exploring how song, and speech and mechanical sound can be woven together to create an effect, convey meaning – not necessarily a story – and deliver an emotional impact.” — Michael Crabb, CBC Radio

Stitch “focuses on the seamier side of fashion. Cowl-neck Blues is a work song sung by a chain-stitch gang that links the oppression of the sweatshops to the slavery of the cotton fields. But fashion is also a liberating force, and Palmer and Chatterton explore that idea as well. O’Callaghan has a haunting solo, an ode to a piece of fabric, in which she imagines the dress it will turn into, wrapping herself up in it until it covers her face and stifles the song’s orgasmic climax… Stitch is an artistic adventure…” — Kelly Nestruck, The Globe and Mail

“a troubling and exhilarating opera… hats off to the seriously skilled singers who sang it all, clusters, dissonances, bluesy interludes and yes, the screaming under the sewing table… Add to that the movement work, the dramatic suggestion without explicit plot, and you have a rare combination of qualities, one that thrills and challenges audiences, and raises the bar for all such works to follow.”
— Tova Kardonne, The Live Music Report

Stitch “gives a thoughtful voice to the unseen women who clothe us.”
— ‘If you do only five things this week’, National Post