Voice-Box: press

“Here’s an opera that packs a punch. Literally. Usually, arguments and challenges get carried out in words and music. But experimental Toronto company Urbanvessel is adding flying fists to the mix…Urbanvessel’s previous opera, Stitch, was a magical three-person peek into the life of a textile sweatshop. That was genteel compared to the hour of black-eyed, blood-spattered musical and physical games in Voice-Box.”  Urbanvessel’s ‘Voice-Box’ scores knock-out — Globe and Mail

Voice-Box takes on the world of women’s boxing, exploiting the thrusts, jabs, bobs, and weaves of its movement and the shouts and slams of its sound-world to create a performance piece that smashes the boundaries between disciplines and leaves them sprawled out on the mat, down for the count”  The collective audacity of urbanvessel — musicworks

“Bad breakups make people do crazy things. When mezzo-soprano Vilma Vitols’ nightmares about maiming her ex-boyfriend were keeping her up at night, she thought a form of aggressive exercise would help to work through her anxieties. Boxing, she decided, was just the ticket.” Voice-Box: staging the sweet science — Eye Weekly

Voice-Box features a quartet of singers and pugilists who explore – through jab, song and comedy – what it means to be a female boxer. Organized as a series of six fights that pit the women against each other in different combinations, the hour-long show is long on energy and some wonderful a cappella singing…Humour is one of the show’s strengths, with Chatterton flouncing about the ring (Teresa Przybylski’s black-and-red set is its own knockout) as the card girl in a red dress, later serving tea to the audience. In the first fight, Howe takes out a taciturn opponent who finally caves in under a headsplitting punch… Chatterton’s text cleverly explores the idea that women boxing is ‘a girly brawl, a slugfest…not a spat but a sport.'” New experimental opera a real knock-out — Toronto Star

“Composer Palmer’s electro-acoustic score is made up of gym sounds, including the squeaking of ropes, punching and the bells that begin and end rounds. Aplin’s choreography is often tongue-in-cheek: a ballerina confronts a gloved boxer at one point, and in one scene the ladies indulge in a tea party that turns pugnacious. ‘The production often juxtaposes stereotypes of masculine and feminine,’ notes Chatterton, whose playful text ties the various segments and rounds together. ‘The entire group is made up of women, and we get to play off the diva against the fighter. Though one’s associated with glamour and the other with sweat, both opera singer and fighter commit to intensive, long-term training to reach their goals.'” Punching out the high notes — NOW Magazine

“I’ve seen squabbles break out in rehearsals, but never an exchange of punches like the one going on between Vilma Vitols and Savoy Howe in a space in Toronto’s Parkdale neighbourhood. They don’t connect for a while, as they duck and lean away from each other’s jabs, but then Vitols lands one on Howe’s nose, and says, “Sorry!” She’s not really sorry, and they’re not really fighting. They’re getting in shape for Voice Box, a new performance work by seven women artists who want to know what it’s like to dance like a butterfly and sting like a bee. Vitols and Howe have been in the ring together for real, when Vitols, an opera singer and boxer-in-training, fought an actual three-round bout in 2006, coached by Howe, who is also a comedian and actor. Vitols won, and got to thinking about the intensity and theatricality of what she had just experienced.” Seven female artists duke it in Voice Box — Globe and Mail

“Palmer’s Voice-Box, with librettist Anna Chatterton and choreographer Julia Aplin, is about women who box, and it takes them very seriously indeed, using boxing as a metaphor for making a distinction between violence and aggression, and for understanding the positive value of aggression. ‘Aggression is a very gendered issue,’ says Palmer. ‘If a woman is aggressive, she’s often sidelined. But positive assertion is how we act in the world, how we get things accomplished.'” In your face music — Elissa Poole, Opera Canada