Fides Krucker - Under a Paper Moon

Photo by Jeremy Minmagh

Fides Krucker has devoted thirty-five years to contemporary vocal practice. She uses her experience as a singer of contemporary opera, her interest in a wide and catholic palate of non-verbal human sound textures, as well as her strong belief in, and pedagogical practice of, sustainable vocal practices as the basis for her creation.

In the mid-eighties she trained in the two-year Music Theatre Studio Ensemble at the Banff Centre and continued to develop, perform and tour contemporary opera under programme director Keith Turnbull through the early nineties. Highlights include lead roles in Boiler Room Suite (Doolittle) which toured to the South Bank in London, the central character in Tornrak (Metcalf) travelling twice to the arctic to learn and bring Inuit throat singing into the project, and extended vocal work alongside Richard Armstrong for Oral Treason by Maurizio Kagel.

In 1986 Fides met Luciano Berio through the Music Programme at Banff. She was the first singer Berio permitted to sing his Folksongs solo – since Cathy Berberian’s death they had been divided between three singers for each performance. She received invitations to sing them throughout Europe and in the Middle East with such orchestras as the Ensemble Intercontemporain in Paris, Il Maggio Musicale in Florence, the Opera de Lyon and the Israeli Chamber Orchestra. A 2013 recording of the cycle with Vancouver’s Turning Point Ensemble is being released in November 2016.

Fides’s early career included several stagings of Pierrot Lunaire (Schoenberg) which she sang with ensembles in Great Britain, Canada, Belgium, Holland and Israel. She performed R. Murray Schafer frequently: Melusina in Hermes Trismegistos (presented inside Union Station as part of the World Stage Festival) and Ariadne in Requiems for the Party Girl, for which she received a Dora nomination in 1994. Fides recorded Schafer’s Amente Nufe (from Ra) for CBC broadcast as well as Arcana. She took Requiems to Tel Aviv in 1996. She has been recorded across the country premiering solo electroacoustic works by composers Daniel Scheidt, Michael Maguire, Gavin Bryars, Wende Bartley and Susan Frykberg and chamber works by Ravel, Shostakovich and Respighi. In 2000 she performed Christopher Butterfield’s Jappements à la Lune (previously released on CD with Vancouver New Music) with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra at Massey Hall.

She has sung Claude Vivier’s Kopernicus, and premiered Serge Provost’s Le Vampyre et La Nymphomane, Owen Underhill’s The Star Catalogues, Barry Truax’s Powers of Two, and Rodney Sharman’s Elsewhereless. The latter two were recorded for CD release.

Her interdisciplinary work began in the late eighties with Vancouver dance theatre company Jumpstart! During the two years that she toured with their dance/opera, Berlin Angels, she co-created RONDO withToronto hologram artist Mary Alton and composer Robert Stephenson as well as co-composing and performing in Artaud’s Cane for writer/director Thom Sokoloski (Dora nomination with Eve Egoyan and Michael White for composition.)

Fides Krucker founded the interdisciplinary female collective URGE in 1992. URGE’s interdisciplinary creative process was examined in a one-our television documentary on the CBC’s Adrienne Clarkson Presents. It featured their second full-length piece She promised she’d bake a pie…. Their groundbreaking process has been written about in Opus Magazine, Musicworks, for Playwrights Canada Press and other scholarly papers. Their third collectively created show, Trousseau/True Nature, was remounted at Factory Theatre in 2002 after premiering at Calgary’s High Performance Rodeo and Toronto’s DuMaurier Theatre in 2000. It was nominated for two Dora Awards. URGE was invited by Theatre Direct Canada to create a piece on emerging professional performers for and about grade 7 and 8 girls. And by the way miss… workshopped through the 2003/4 season and premiered November 25th, 2004, at Harbourfront. It won creation and performance awards and a cash prize for Theatre Direct at the Dora Awards in 2005. Fides was the lead director for this project and made the archival video of the work into a script for Playwrights Canada Press that was published in 2015.

Fides’s film appearances include Atom Egoyan’s The Sweet Hereafter, Patricia Rozema’s When Night is Falling, and Julie Trimingham’s An Opera on Divorce. She has been the featured soloist in four Bravo fact films, and appeared with URGE in a fifth.

In 2002 Fides founded Good Hair Day Productions to mount three monodramas as a unified electroacoustic evening. For Girl with no door on her mouth (composed by Wende Bartley) she used Anne Carson’s texts to construct a libretto. In Mercy Suite she restructured the arias from Rainer Wiens prepared guitar opera Down Here on Earth, which she had premiered in 1998. The evening also included Gavin Bryars’ The White Lodge and ran for three weeks at Theatre Passe Muraille to sell-out audiences winning two Dora awards in design.

In the fall of 2003, along with pianist Sageev Oore, percussionist Rick Sacks and director Mark Christmann, GHDP presented a two week run of A little rain never hurt no one…. This visceral, immersive cabaret included music by Schoenberg, Waits, Cohen, Jobim and Prince and was named one of the top ten shows of 2002 by NOW Magazine. The music from the show was recorded in June 2003 for CD release and was nominated for a sound design/composition Dora award. NOW also named Krucker as one of the top 10 theatre artists for 2002.

Fides was in Rome for seven and a half weeks in the fall of 2004 creating her vocal part and performing in The Wings of Daedalus, an electroacoustic, cyborg opera by composer Maurizio Squillante. It toured France and Italy in the fall of 2005. Fides has also created and recorded three arias with Squillante for his opera about Alexander the Great in which she sang the part of Alexander’s mother, Olympia.

In January 2004 she wrote, directed and produced CP Salon with performers Kazumi Tsuruoka and Sageev Oore. This intimate rhythm and blues piece about love and disability toured to Regina and Vancouver in May of 2006, Whitehorse in 2008 and three Toronto university campuses in 2009 on the back of a diverse abilities workshop taught by Fides and Kazumi. It is now an NFB documentary film directed by Lawrence Jackman. In Whitehorse she continued to work for three years with the women of Ynclude – a diverse abilities collective of artists – to create a full-length performance work that toured to Whistler, B.C.

In the fall of 2005 Fides premiered two new operas in Montreal. The electroacoustic opera L’archange (composer Louis Dufort, librettist Alexis Nouss) was directed by Pauline Vaillancourt for Chants Libres and A Chair in Love (composer John Metcalf, librettist Larry Tremblay) was directed by Keith Turnbull for Le Chien Qui Chante and toured Wales and Ireland.

In January 2006 GHDP created Yours to Break for Theatre Passe Muraille’s MainStage season weaving pop music, movement and live boxing with excerpts from Helen Humphreys’ novel Wild Dogs as tools for exploring instinct, intimacy and communication.

Fides has worked over the last decade for several dance companies and choreographers training and creating vocal material on their dancers: Verve Mwendo in Halifax, and Kaeja d’Dance, Adelheid Dance Projects, Susan Lee, Louis Laberge-Coté and Peggy Baker in Toronto. Her first work for Peggy Baker Dance Projects was a remount of Geometry of the Circle for the Vancouver 2010 Paraolympics followed by a one hour score she composed and sang for land/body/breath in the Thompson Galleries at the AGO in 2012. In 2015 locus plot, and in 2016 phase space saw Fides going further in her work with Peggy’s dancers unlocking choreographic expression through two radical vocal scores. Her vocalography, in combination with John Farah’s instrumental score, was nominated for a Dora award for each production and won in 2016. “Where emotion arises it has much to do with the extraordinary vocalizations Krucker has given the dancers. These range from the almost inaudible to growls, raucous whoops, yells, quasi-coloratura bird calls and visceral rumblings.” The Toronto Star.

Unfinished Passage, a full-length, voice and movement-driven, theatrical work created with Alex Fallis and Heidi Strauss in 2009 for the eighteen performers in Humber College’s graduating class, was praised for its ‘stunning vocal work’. In 2013 Fides co-created the a capella, site-specific A mourning Chorus with visual artist Sara Angelucci for performance at the AGO and the ROM. In the twenty-five minute piece she and six other singers celebrate bird species now extinct through embodying avian sound-making. Fides will recreate it on seven singers in Newfoundland for the 2017 Bonavista Biennale.

Her company, Good Hair Day Productions, commissioned, developed and produced the electroacoustic, sexual-catastrophe opera Julie Sits Waiting (Walmsley/Dufort) receiving five Dora Nominations in 2013 including best production and best performance by a female in the opera category.

Over two years Fides co-created a sixty-minute interdisciplinary piece with Chicago artist Erica Mott and composer Ryan Ingebritsen. 3Singers explored the unionization of female workers in the US garment industry in the early 1900s. It premiered in 2014 in Krakov and Chicago; the vocal work was recognized for its ‘feminist jolt’, ‘avant guard sensibility’ and ‘heartbreaking descant’. She has continued to teach and consult in Chicago for Walkabout Theatre.

In 2015 Fides sang like a mermaid in DIVE, a hybrid, sonic-theatre piece by Richard Sanger and Nik Beeson based on Giuseppe di Lampedusa’s The professor and the Siren. It was developed in part through Canadian Stage’s Festival of New Ideas in 2011 and 2012.

As a teacher Krucker is in high demand for private and group voice classes in Toronto by singers, actors, dancers and non-performers. She has taught for twelve years at Humber College in the theatre department. Fides’s expertise in teaching groups has taken her regularly to Vancouver, Regina, Montreal, Tel Aviv, Zurich, Whitehorse and Rome. She has eight apprentices who are taking her pedagogy into their own teaching practices. She has been the artist in residence twice at the European Graduate School in Switzerland and served for three years on the Toronto Arts Council Theatre Committee.

Fides’s writing on emotionally integrated voice has been commissioned and published by the Canadian literary journal Descant and her teaching has been profiled in magazines such as Chatelaine. She has been a speaker at the Subtle Technologies conference at the University of Toronto and was interviewed by Peter Gzowski on the CBC’s Some of the best minds of our time. She was nominated for a K.M.Hunter in Music. In 2010 Fides received a Chalmers’ Fellowship to survey her artistic practice, vocal innovation and pedagogy. This winter she is finishing the final draft of the resulting book, Making Breath Visible: Women and Voice.

Upcoming is Three Waters, an interdisciplinary installation for voice, piano, wearable sculpture and projected image, with writer/curator Dennison Smith. Exploring oceans and ecology, Fides will create a vocal score with four singers who draw on multiple, overlapping traditions: Inuit throat singing, West Coast potlatch song, operatic, free jazz improvisation, extended techniques, and Celtic song. For her next solo voice project, In This Body, she will sing sixteen Canadian pop songs, primarily by female singer/songwriters, tracing the geography of a woman’s heart. It will be danced by Peggy Baker, Laurence Lemieux and Heidi Strauss and be presented in 2018.

Fides is fortunate to have learned much about ‘voice’ from her two (now adult) daughters.