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Man stabs director of local opera

As Cheryl Hickman, artistic director of Opera on the Avalon, was walking into the Toronto-based Canadian Opera Company in December, she had no idea the director of the play she was there to workshop had been savagely attacked the night before.

British Columbia theatre director Glynis Leyshon is directing the local opera ‘Hours.” She was stabbed in Toronto in December during a robbery.

“The composer was in the hallway having a bit of a meltdown,” Hickman says.

Word was spreading through some of the group that well-known theatre director Glynis Leyshon had been savagely attacked the night before during a robbery.

Leyshon, who lives in British Columbia, is the director of the Opera on the Avalon production “Ours” — an opera about Beaumont Hamel.

She was in Toronto with the rest of the show’s crew as part of a workshop to prepare for the opening of the play this summer.

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On the evening of Dec. 15 following a day working on the production, Leyshon was dropped off at the Summerhill Gardens area of Toronto. Hickman describes the area as a nice neighbourhood, but dark and isolated. It was where she was attacked.

According to an article published in the Times Colonist in Victoria, B.C., a masked man attacked her, stabbing her in the torso four times with what are believed to box cutters. Besides the stabbing, Leyshon had her right knuckle broken and her arms slashed. Her purse, wallet and cellphone were stolen.

“She’s very lucky to be alive,” says Hickman.

The man accused in the attack — named in the Times Colonist as 22-year-old Calvin Michael Nimoh — left the scene of that crime and then headed toward Toronto’s Ryerson University, where he allegedly attacked 39-year-old cancer researcher Mark Ernsting.

Ernsting, who was also stabbed, died from his injuries.

Nimoh is charged with robbery and assault with a weapon in the Leyshon case. Two women are also facing robbery and assault charges for that attack.

Nimoh is charged with the first-degree murder of Ernsting.

“You just don’t know what to say. It’s so shocking,” Hickman told The Telegram on the phone.

Leyshon spent that night in the hospital and had police interviews the next day. After just one day off she was back at the workshop.

“We’re so grateful, but also so brokenhearted for the family and loved ones of the other man,” Hickman says.

The attacks appear to be random.

Leyshon will be in the province as of May 30. “Ours” opens on July 1.

This story has been updated to correct the name of the opera.

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