An opera classic and teaching Indigenous texts

In this episode of Arts on Air we visit UBC Opera as they rehearse for their upcoming production of Eugene Onegin. This is the second time the department has tackled the Russian classic based on the novel by Alexander Pushkin to a score by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The first time, Nancy Hermiston, current chair of the School of Music’s Voice and Opera Divisions, was the director and Onegin was played by Krzysztof Biernacki. Biernacki returns to UBC after 12 years as this production’s director. 


Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin was actually written for students, according to Hermiston, and not only demonstrates the lead characters’ singing strengths but also that of the chorus. We spoke with some students about their characters, how they came to opera, and what it feels like to use their bodies as their instruments.

Eugene Onegin runs at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts from February 2nd to 5th. You can learn more at

Listen to the episode here.



In the second half of this episode we speak with Dr. Margery Fee, Department of English professor and McLean Chair in Canadian Studies, about teaching Indigenous texts. Dr. Fee will present her research in a series of lectures on campus as part of her role as the Brenda and David McLean Chair in Canadian Studies. 



The series will touch on oral literature and the problems with thinking about and teaching oral story. It will look at where indigenous voices appeared in government documents like manifestos and declarations to get a better sense of what was thought and said, and in the final instalment Dr. Fee will touch on women’s stories and what they have to say.

In our conversation we also talk about the the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Dr. Fee’s new book and novels she suggests everyone read.

You can learn more about Dr. Fee and the McLean Lecture Series at

And, you can listen to the interview at the 15:08 mark here.


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