The Overcoat

Librettist: Morris Panych

Commissioner: Tapestry Opera (Artistic Director Michael Hidetoshi Mori), with Canadian Stage and Vancouver Opera

Premiere: April 2018, Bluma Appel Theatre, Toronto, ON; May 2018, Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Vancouver, BC

Performers: 11 voices (3 sopranos, 2 mezzi, 2 tenors, 3 baritones, 1 bass), 12 players (piccolo, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, percussion, keyboard, accordion (optional), 2 violins, viola, violoncello, bass)

Duration: 110 minutes (2 acts)


The Overcoat (based on the Gogol story of the same name) traces the rise and fall of the bumbling Akakiy Akakievich. At work, his colleagues mock him cruelly, and at the hovel he calls home, his landlady is lecherous and maternal by turn. Winter is approaching, and his old overcoat is threadbare and tattered, so Akakiy saves every last kopeck to commission a new coat from his neighbour, a drunken mercurial tailor. The coat turns out to be so fabulous that Akakiy makes a sensation at work. His boss admires him, his colleagues toast him, and he’s invited to a glamourous party, where he flirts, dances, gets very drunk, and staggers off. He gets lost in a bad part of town and is robbed of his coat. Back home, he hallucinates; a doctor is summoned, who sees no hope of recovery. Akakiy finishes his days in an insane asylum.

Press excerpt

This is it, everyone. The Overcoat is without question a part of the operatic canon of the 21st century. It has all the moving parts of a show that entertains, and it has that perfect triumvirate – text, music, and production – that will stand up to future generations of critics, the way Mozart’s or Verdi’s work does today … I don’t think I’ve been to an opera in Canada – a world premiere, at that – with a more obviously enthusiastic audience response; the show was punctuated with laughter and spontaneous applause. Indeed, The Overcoat is so beautifully crafted from the inside out, that it seemed no piece of the puzzle – no phrase, no piece of design, no performer onstage – could be removed without the show losing its magic. – Jenna Simeonov, Globe and Mail, March 31, 2018