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2018-2019 Season and Festival

Franz Lehár’s The Merry Widow, Giacomo Puccini’s La Bohème, Charles Gounod’s Faust, and Gioachino Rossini’s La Cenerentola

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Vancouver Opera Festival 2018

Running from April 28 to May 6, the second annual Vancouver Opera Festival celebrates Russian composers.

Celebrate Canada 150: 150 Facts about VO

This year our country celebrates its 150th birthday. It has been a century and a half of building one of the greatest places in the world to live. It was important to our founders to create a country with opportunity and a society with openness and vision. This included building cultural institutions to enrich our lives. Vancouver Opera's founders had this in mind when the company came into being 60 years ago. Today, VO is Canada' second largest opera company with a fully professional orchestra and chorus. It is our plan to be here for Canada's next 150 years and we are counting on supporters such as you to make this happen. 

Today we ask you to consider a gift of $150, that’s $1 for every reason that VO should be celebrated, to celebrate Canada Day and Vancouver Opera as a key part of Canada's cultural legacy. A special gift will be sent to all of you who make a donation before June 30 to mark the occasion! 


Or call 604.331.4836

150 Fantastic Facts about Vancouver Opera

1.  Vancouver Opera is Canada's second-largest opera company, having been producing work continuously since 1960.

2.  VO is one of the only Canadian opera companies to feature its own resident, fully-professional chorus and orchestra, the other being the Canadian Opera Company in Toronto. 

3.  In 1977, there were a series of efforts between the VO and its counterpart Vancouver Symphony Orchestra to consolidate operations and merge artistic forces into one 'joint' organization supported by one unified musical ensemble. These efforts were ultimately abandoned by the 1980s.  

4. Vancouver Opera has a long history of original commissions. Since 1994, the company has produced three mainstage commissions and four original touring works, with an additional touring project currently in development. 

5. In 1960, VO engaged its founding Artistic Director, Irving Guttman. Beverly Fyfe was engaged as Chorus Master. The two would go on to make more than thirty productions happen. 

6. In 1961, the Vancouver Opera Endowment Trust (VOET) was established thanks to a generous naming gift from the family of David Spencer. The VOET’s efforts were bolstered through the creation of the Vancouver Opera Foundation in 1987. Both of these entities continue to provide important stability and support to the Opera itself. 

7. One of VO's first productions (Carmen, in April 1960) was very nearly derailed by a runaway horse!

8. When VO first opened its doors in 1960, the organization had just $35 in its bank account. 

9. “My first opera with Vancouver Opera was Rigoletto in 1992 (I believe) - it was David Agler's first production with Vancouver Opera, and it opens with the Principal trumpet and trombone players alone on the same note. My trumpet playing partner in that production was Jim Ross, who now plays with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra's trumpet section! I saw him most recently this past fall when he returned to Vancouver to hear his daughter sing with UBC Opera's production of Eugene Onegin, conducted by David Agler, and that same week the Met Broadcast was a production of Rigoletto!”
- Jeremy Berkman (Principal Trombone, VO Orchestra, 1992 – present)

10. VO's founding Artistic Director, Irving Guttman, was inspired to pursue a lifelong career in opera after seeing an Opera de Montreal production of Romeo et Juliette. He was 12 years old. 

11. In 1970, Spanish soprano Monserrat Caballé  gave a benefit concert in support of the VO. The concert was billed as a stunning success, with 1,000 people attending and five standing ovations. 

12. Before its move downtown (and then to East Vancouver, in 2011), VO used to base its administrative spaces near what is now the Stadium - Chinatown SkyTrain station.

13. In 2008, Vancouver Opera came close to commissioning and producing a new opera based on the life and times of late Canadian hero Terry Fox. The libretto for Terry was to have been crafted by Douglas Coupland to a score by Veda Hille. The project was ultimately never produced, but a draft outline and musical sketches still exist. 

14. Vancouver Opera’s Board numbers nearly twenty-four, and is an even mix of genders.

15. In 1963, VO engaged the international star Joan Sutherland in its pivotal production of Norma. This proved to be a decision that would cement VO's artistic reputation. 

16. “The last time VO performed Turandot, the conductor was Louis Salemno, who knew the score incredibly well, but told the orchestra he would never conduct it from memory because then he wouldn't have the opportunity to hold Puccini's magnificent score in his hands.”
- Jeremy Berkman (Principal Trombone, VO Orchestra, 1992 – present)

17. In 1963, Maestro Richard Bonynge made his debut as an opera conductor in Vancouver, where he conducted Faust. The same year, also in Vancouver, he conducted Norma for the first time, starring Sutherland and Marilyn Horne. Maestro Bonynge went on to an incredible international conducting career and in 1973 he succeeded Irving Guttman as VO's Artistic Director. 

18. Vancouver Opera's first production of the monumental Aida took place in 1970.  Another horse nearly stole the show, in VO’s 2007 production, starring Renzo Zulian, Jean Stilwell and Susan Neves. Julian made his entrance riding a big white stallion, which got more advance press attention than any of the cast!

19. In 1972, VO’s inaugural Vancouver Opera In Schools production was a specially-adapted version of Le Nozze di Figaro. 

20. In 1973, 'Opera West', a Western Canadian operatic alliance that bound Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and Winnipeg's companies, was formed. 

21. The Vancouver Opera Orchestra was officially incorporated in 1977; its first production was Le Roi de Lahore, with Don Giovanni following shortly thereafter. The headdress worn by Joan Sutherland in Le roi de Lahore still sits prominently on a shelf in the costume shop.

22. In 1981, a municipal strike forced the postponement of VO's production of Otello. The work would not be re-mounted for 36 years. 

23. In 1982, Irving Guttman would return as Artistic Director. Hamilton McClymont was appointed General Manager. 

24. In 1984, the first standing ovations for VO productions occurred (during The Tales of Hoffman and Nabucco). 

25. 1986 saw VO's controversial production of Carmen open Expo ‘86. That same year, VO produced the North American premiere of Janacek’s From The House of the Dead. 

26. In 1989, VO's first use of SURTITLE™ projections occurred. 

27. VO has only presented the works of Benjamin Britten three times over the years, the most recent being 2013’s Albert Herring.  

28. “When Aida was first put on, a lot of extras were required for scenes such as the triumphal march.  I remember one of the math profs at UBC (who loved opera) getting to dress up as a spear carrier and march around the stage.  His problem was that he was very near-sighted, and of course spear carriers in the time of the Egyptian pharaohs did not wear glasses.  He had a bit of a time without them, but managed by sticking close to the spear carrier in front of him.”
- Alexander Volkoff, VO donor and Vancouver Opera Guild member

29. In 1990, VO presented the Canadian premiere of Handel's Alcina. 

30. In 1992, VO's longest-serving Chorus Director, Beverly Fyfe, retired after nearly three decades of service. 

31. In 1995, VO appeared in concert with Luciano Pavarotti at GM Place.

32. In 1996, VO held a special fundraising event inspired by the then-touring production of Miss Saigon at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, in a special effort to appeal to music theatre audiences. 

33. The Vancouver Opera Guild has had seventeen Presidents in office since its inception in late 1979.

34. Vancouver Opera was the one of the first major arts organization in Vancouver to move onto the Tessitura ticketing and fund development database in the early 2000s. Prior to that, the company had been reliant on Ticketmaster. Tessitura, an industry standard, is now in wide use among medium to large-sized Metro Vancouver arts organizations. 

35. VO's Vancouver Opera In Schools program has been seen by over one million people since its inception and launch. The company currently has seven productions in its roster, with an eighth currently in development. 

36. Members of the Vancouver Opera Orchestra devote time to numerous other musical ensembles throughout the Lower Mainland, including Standing Wave, Babayaga, the Vancouver New Music Ensemble, A Touch of Brass, the Artemis Trio, West Coast Chamber Music, the Pacific Symphonic Wind Ensemble, and the Richmond School of Music. 

37. “I remember being very excited about the prospect of hearing Regina Resnik sing Carmen when I was a teenager, especially given the very sultry pictures of her singing in the role that had advertised the opera.  Imagine my dismay when she first came out on stage, very plump and not at all sultry.  I was so put off (being new to opera) that I barely heard how she sang.”
- Alexander Volkoff, Vancouver Opera Guild member

38. In 1999, VO artists were featured at MusicFest Vancouver, a now-defunct annual jazz, classical and world music and opera festival. This marked the world premiere of Leslie Uyeda's new opera, Game Misconduct - an opera all about hockey! Other collaborations included concert performances of Pelleas et Melisande, Der Freischutz, Pearl Fishers and I Puritani.

39. Over the years, VO has presented nearly a dozen standalone concerts (many featuring world-renowned artists) in addition to its ongoing mainstage repertoire. 

40. In 2005, Vancouver Opera committed to what would become one of its most ambitious projects: the First Nations-inspired production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute. The work would see a successful debut in 2007, and be re-mounted in 2013. 

41. “If memory serves me well, it was not only Joan Sutherland who sang the role of Norma here in Vancouver, but also Marilyn Horne.  I have never forgotten their singing in perfect thirds -- SUCH perfect thirds -- that one could actually hear the "buzzing" sound that such perfect harmony creates.  Is it my memory or a false one that the first time Sutherland wore the famous red costume that appeared on the record jacket of her recording was here in Vancouver?  Again, I wouldn't swear to that.”
- Alexander Volkoff, VO donor and Vancouver Opera Guild member

42. Vancouver Opera’s 2010 company and Canadian premiere of Nixon in China was a feature offering of that year’s Cultural Olympiad, as part of that year’s Winter Olympics. VO’s new production of this work was subsequently seen in San Francisco, Dublin, Stockholm and Kansas City.

43. VO currently operates out of the East Vancouver-based Michael and Inna O’Brian Centre for Vancouver Opera, which houses the company’s artistic, administrative and production-based facilities. Included in this space is a telephone room where VO conducts annual telefunding and subscription sales efforts. For most of the 1980s, well before VO took residence, this room was sub-leased to a phone sex business (incidentally, our costume shop used to be sub-leased to a Sealy mattress factory…).

44. In 2015, Vancouver Opera’s new production of Sweeney Todd made use of 30,000 pounds of lumber to reinforce the stage. This lumber was necessary owing to the sheer heft and scale of the set.

45. In an early 2000-era production of La Bohème, the tenor singing Rodolfo (Roger Honeywell) was suffering from a terrible cold and could not continue past Act 1. To the rescue came a chorister, who sang the part from the edge of the stage, while the tenor acted the part on stage.

46. Challenges also greeted a VOA production of The Barber of Seville in the 1990s, when Rosina, a coloratura soprano sung by Tracy Dahl, could not sing the second performance. World famous mezzo Judith Forst happened to be in town. She sang from the apron of the stage. Fortunately, the orchestra had a lower-key version of the score! For the next two performances another mezzo was flown in, and she sang and performed the role with almost no rehearsal. For the final performance, the original soprano was well enough to sing.

47. Many of VO’s originally-commissioned works directly address pressing social issues. Naomi’s Road (2005) addressed issues of racism. Stickboy (2014) addressed bullying. 

48. Vancouver Opera's 2013 production of Albert Herring was the first collaboration between the company and Pacific Opera Victoria. POV originally scaled the production for its own Royal Theatre, which seats 1,400. When the production debuted in Vancouver shortly thereafter, it had to be significantly re-scaled to suit the 2,800-seat Queen Elizabeth Theatre. 

49. VO doesn’t just serve professional artists. Each year, up to twenty members of VO’s chorus are drawn from UBC Opera’s pre-professional program, and make up an important element of each mainstage production. Moreover, since its inception in 2012, VO’s Young Artists Program (YAP) has engaged over twenty emerging singers, stage directors and répétiteurs.

50. VO’s costume shop is a full-time operation. At any given time, between seven and ten tailors are present.

51. In 2005, the Volunteerism in the Arts Conference in Vancouver was established as a 25th anniversary celebration for the Vancouver Opera Guild, with 3 conference objectives (guiding principles) for volunteers in the arts (theatre, visual, music, opera): Education, Networking, and Recognition. Today the conference engages over 20 of Vancouver's most prominent local arts organizations who collaborate to provide growth and connection opportunities for the individuals and teams that support them.

52. Vancouver Opera has long been supported by passionate volunteers who help with front of house and behind-the-scenes responsibilities to help productions run efficiently and at low cost. In 2017, the first VO Festival engaged over 130 volunteers in 450 shifts for over 1440 hours of volunteer service for the 3 week event.

53. Vancouver Opera’s Work Experience program directly pairs aspiring students with professionals drawn from every area of the company’s operations. Each year, this mentorship program engages between 16 and 25 students.

54. In 2015/16, 1,596 individual donors made contributions ranging from $5 to $1M to Vancouver Opera. 

55. In 1992, the VO Chorus was severely impacted by the devastating AIDS epidemic. Over the course of a two-month period, during which La bohème was in rehearsal and performance, four members of the VO Chorus passed away from the disease. The final performances of the production were blocked with the ‘missing’ chorus spots preserved as a tribute to those missing members.

56. In 2016/17, Spring and Summer iterations of VO’s popular Opera Camp program engaged over fifty British Columbian young people. 

57. The inaugural edition of the VO Festival, in 2017, employed over 200 artists, musicians and craftspeople. 

58. In 2014, VO began to make use of the Vancouver Playhouse again as a performance venue, with its world premiere of Stickboy. Prior to this production, the company had not made use of the performance space since 1997’s Candide. 

59. VO’s new production of Dead Man Walking (2017) was the first production of the work to feature an African American artist, Mezzo-Soprano J’Nai Bridges, in the role of Sister Helen Prejean. 

60. Many members of the VO Orchestra met for the first time when they were engaged by Olivia Newton John’s manager to accompany her rendition of a number of pieces from Evita in Vancouver in the mid-1970s. 

61. The VO Ticket Centre receives an average of 60 calls per day during the company’s busy season. 

62. The VO Telefunding office makes an average of 150 calls per night. 

63. The Michael and Inna O’Brian Centre for Vancouver Opera has had many prior lives. Prior to VO taking residence in 2011, the facility was utilized by Lululemon Athletica, which got its start in the space in the early 2000s. 

64. One of VO’s most popular Vancouver Opera In Schools (VOIS) productions (Cinderella), has been re-mounted seven times since the 1980s. 

65.  Each year, Vancouver Opera’s Young Artists Program (YAP) presents specially-orchestrated productions of rarely-performed pieces from the operatic repertoire. Past seasons have seen works by Glűck, Handel and Viardot take the stage.

66. One of Vancouver Opera’s most dedicated departments – Info Services – is run entirely by volunteers, and, each year, performs important clerical, archival and administrative work for the company. In 2016, Info Services logged over 800 hours of service to the company. 

67. Vancouver Opera’s Young Artists Program (YAP) has produced impressive results. Graduates of the program’s 2012/13 and 2013/14 iterations now enjoy flourishing careers in New York, Berlin and Toronto, among other locales. 

68. Each season, VO produces nearly 30,000 house programmes, totaling over 1.2 million sheets of paper. 

69. Vancouver Opera’s Spring 2016 production of Evita remains the only production in the company’s 60-year history to achieve its sales goal in advance of Opening Night. 

70. Vancouver Opera’s upcoming season includes a substantial production of Puccini’s Turandot. The work has not been produced by VO since 2005. 

71. Vancouver Opera’s popular Opera Speaks community program has been in continued operation since 2002. The inaugural production to feature this community-building initiative was Of Mice and Men.

72. In 2013, VO underwent a significant organizational re-brand, culminating in a new logo for the company. This was only the third time the logo had changed since the company’s inception. 

73. VO’s blockbuster production of Evita auditioned nearly thirty potential music theatre actresses before settling on Caroline Bowman to sing the role. Ms. Bowman had previously sung the part on Evita’s 2014 Broadway tour.  

74. Vancouver Opera’s touring production of Naomi’s Road has been seen as far afield as Seattle, WA and Toronto, ON, making it one of the company’s most successful artistic exports. 

75. VO’s touring production of Naomi’s Road has also been re-mounted four times since its premiere run, which is exceptional for a new work. 

76. “I have a clear memory of the first time I heard The Flying Dutchman in the late 60s here in Vancouver.  I believe that year they were trying to do different operas in English (wouldn't swear to that).  What I do remember is that The Flying Dutchman was to be in English.  Unfortunately one of the leads -- I believe Senta -- fell ill, and the last minute replacement could sing the role only in German.  So we had the uncomfortable experience of hearing the second act duet between the Dutchman and Senta sung in two different languages.  It took me years to want to hear Dutchman again, but now I love it.”
- Alexander Volkoff, Vancouver Opera Guild member

77. Many notable celebrities have made use of VO’s resident orchestra in rehearsal and performance capacities, including Barbara Streisand, in 2012.

78. VO’s most recent production of Aida (staged in 2012) attracted the attention of local animal rights organizations owing to its planned use of a live hawk at a key moment in the action. This decision was ultimately foregone owing to a fear of bad publicity. 

79.  Vancouver Opera’s recent Festival art installation, Five Octave Range, was created by multimedia provocateur Paul Wong. The recent winner of the prestigious Audain Prize, Wong’s work was frequently blacklisted as ‘obscene’ by visual arts leaders in the 1970s and 80s. 

80. VO’s recent new production of Otello featured many artists familiar to VO audiences. Megan Latham, who sang Emilia, was last with the company in the role of the Grandmother in 2014’s Stickboy. 

81. The digital animations that were used to such distinctive effect in Stickboy were created by local animation firm Giant Ant. They were budgeted out as costing nearly $5,000 per minute of completed animation. 

82. Vancouver Opera’s social media reach is significant. The company has over 15,000 Facebook ‘friends’ and over 14,000 Twitter ‘followers’. VO also benefits from 1,800 connections on LinkedIn and over 3,000 Instagram ‘followers’.  Additionally, VO’s list of e-newsletter subscribers are nearly 35,000 strong in number.

83. Vancouver Opera’s resident chorus is one of the few fully-professional operatic choruses in the country. Many members of the Chorus have been with the company since the 1980s. Over forty choristers make up its ranks. 

84. VO’s recent production of Dead Man Walking represented a monumental undertaking for the company. In addition to the formidable orchestral and choral forces seen onstage, the work also featured twelve supernumeraries and an equal number of children’s choristers. 

85. Project Opera (one of VO’s many educational programs for youth) activities in classrooms have explored Canadian history, First Nations stories and poetry. However, the most unique production has to have been a recent Grade 5 opera about the circulatory system.

86. Secondary students in the Work Experience program have produced a wide variety of responses to their time with Vancouver Opera. So far we have received posters, film shorts, Tumbler pages and formal papers. One student designed a t-shirt that included the signatures of all of the principal singers from Madama Butterfly. The artist then made a t-shirt for each student in the cohort.

87. Vancouver Opera’s partnership with the Delta School District has resulted in Canada’s first Opera and Performance Academy. Secondary students from across Metro Vancouver can attend the academy as part of their course schedule. It takes the place of two electives. The students work directly with Vancouver Opera artists in writing and staging a new opera.

88. VO’s production of Stickboy led to a collaborative performance of opera arias and spoken word poetry at the Cafe Deux Soleil on Commercial Drive. Members of the Yulanda M. Faris Young Artist Program performed alongside spoken word poets including Stickboy’s librettist Shane Koyczan. Many of the collaborations were put together the afternoon before the performance. The evening proved that there is a strong link between the two art forms!

89. In 2015/16, VO provided over eighty public performances throughout Metro Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, including a Canadian premiere. Total attendance exceeded seventy thousand.

90. That same year, over 180 artists were employed.

91. In any given season, the Vancouver Opera Guild prepares lunch “star boxes” for over 120 artists, staff and production team members.
92. In any given season, the Vancouver Opera Guild racks up over 120 KM in “volunteer miles” incurred by Guild members that transport artists from the airport to apartments, hotels and even billeted homes for the duration of their contracts.

93. “When VO produced the Canadian premiere of Tea: A Mirror of Soul in 2013, there were some of us in the orchestra who started singing the main theme as the soprano came on stage to take her bow at the end. Each night we started sing a bit earlier, and each night more members of the orchestra joined in, and we would repeat the theme over and over. Then, on closing night, we started much earlier during the bows, and on the third or fourth time through the theme we realized that a considerable number of audience members were singing it, too! As far as I am aware, this is the only time the audience has sung the music of a premiere during the curtain call in VO history.”
- Sarah Westwick (Member, VO Orchestra)

94. VO has hosted the annual OPERA America conference twice (1999 and 2013). OPERA America is a US-based arts service organization (ASO), dedicated to advancing the field of opera. The organization advocates on behalf of the sector, provides funding for special initiatives undertaken by resident companies and maintains statistical information on the field at large.

95. At VO, ticket sales in an average season account for less than one third of the company’s total annual budget. The remainder is made up through various forms of contributed revenue.

96. In 2013, when VO last produced Tosca, three of its five performances fell over Halloween weekend. In order to drive audience sales, the company mounted a special ‘Zombie Tosca’ promotion, wherein a specially-engaged actress, caked in fake blood, roamed downtown Vancouver as a zombie, attempting to ‘scare’ people into buying tickets. The results were mixed.

97. The prior year, VO worked to creatively bolster ticket sales for its then-running production of The Pirates of Penzance by sending members of its men’s’ chorus (and office staff), pirate-attired, across the False Creek seawall in a “commandeered” Aquabus. The motley crew attempted to ‘storm’ the nearby Arts Club. The results are still documented on YouTube.

98. When the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company ceased operations in 2012, much of its stored properties were donated to VO, where they still see use.

99. The VO scenic shop is regularly engaged to create items for Pacific Opera Victoria, the Arts Club, regional theatre companies beyond British Columbia, and, occasionally, community theatre. 

100. “It is quite an athletic endeavour to play violin in an opera orchestra pit. To understand why, hold your left hand above your heart, twist your wrist clockwise, and now wiggle your fingers with total control for the next 3 hours…but the trombone?”
- Jeremy Berkman (Principal Trombone, VO Orchestra, 1992 – present)

101. VO’s service to the community theatre realm has been long-term. Each year, Theatre Under The Stars (TUTS) makes use of VO’s rehearsal hall as a working space. 

102. From 2012 – 2017, VO rented office space to the venerable Blackbird Theatre. Blackbird ceased operations and formally wound up in 2017.

103. Over the years, VO has also donated rehearsal and amenity space to the Turning Point Ensemble, the Queer Arts Festival, the frank theatre company, Pi Theatre, DAREarts, the BC Choral Federation and musica intima.

104. The Michael and Inna O’Brian Centre for Vancouver Opera totals over 30,000 square feet of an even larger complex. Additional tenants not counted in this total include a yoga space and a textile facility.

105. VO is also an active member of several reputable community organizations, including Imagine Canada, the Association of Fundraising Professionals, the Alliance for Arts and Culture and ActSafe.

106. VO counts more than 600 vocal scores and 100 full orchestral scores in its music library and archive.

107. The company also maintains a collection of several hundred operatic LPs and compact discs, many of them exceedingly rare. These have come from the private collections of some of VO’s most established supporters. 

108. Every year, VO’s use of the Queen Elizabeth Theatre and the Vancouver Playhouse is subsidized via the City of Vancouver’s Theatre Rental Grant program. This program subsidizes access to professional-quality performance and rehearsal venues for Vancouver-based cultural groups each year. The annual value of this support is $420K.

109. “My best remembrance is the event that just preceded the initiation of Vancouver Opera: the world shattering debut of Joan Sutherland in Canada performing Donna Anna in Don Giovanni in 1958 in the Orpheum. The cast included George London, Pierette Alerie, Leopold Simoneau, Milla Andrew, and a few more I have forgotten, but this whetted Vancouver’s appetite for opera! I was dating a member of the chorus, and got to all the parties, met the stars, etc. Great fun”!
- Hilary Clark (Vancouver Opera Guild member; VO donor) 

110. The VO Box Office handles approximately 15,000 calls a year.

111.  VO’s box office staff has a combined total of over 70 years in the arts. Our regular box office staff includes people from performing arts backgrounds, including one who has a star on Granville Street. 

112. We issue more than 25,000 tickets annually to patrons in hard copy. We now produce tickets electronically as well.

113. The VO Box Office is often the first (and sometimes only) contact for our patrons, and as such, is an integral part of VO as an organization.

114. Vancouver Opera's first production was Carmen in 1960, directed by Irving Guttman with Nan Merriman as Carmen and Louis Quilico as Escamillo.

115. Artists who work with Vancouver Opera are professional artists and members of Canadian Actors' Equity Association and/or Vancouver Musicians Association.  The stage crew is made up of International Association of Theatrical Stage (IATSE) Local 118 members.

116. Between 1962 and 1988 Audrey Glass sung in 26 Vancouver Opera Productions.  Her daughter Brenda Glass Alexander is a current member of the Vancouver Opera Chorus.

117. Chorister Don Wright has performed in over 125 Vancouver Opera productions.

118. In the three Magic Flute productions from 2001 until now the second spirit has been sung by 3 sisters: Joelle, Sara and Madeleine Tan.

119. The late Irving Guttman, C.M., directed 43 Vancouver Opera productions.

120. VO’s current Music Director, Jonathan Darlington, has conducted 30 Vancouver Opera productions.

121. Mezzo soprano Judith Forst has performed in 19 Vancouver Opera productions and provides regular support through teaching and master classes within the Yulanda M. Faris Young Artists Program.

122. At least 4 of the original musicians from the VO Orchestra's first days are playing in the orchestra today: David Owen, Evelyn Creaser-Rumley, Colin Miles and Sharman King.

123. Carmen, La Traviata and Madama Butterfly have been produced 10 times in the company's history, but La bohème holds the record with 11 productions.

124. The inaugural Vancouver Opera Festival received more print cover than ever before, making the front covers of 4 local publications, including The Georgia Straight, The Vancouver Sun, Westender, and Marco Polo Magazine.  It also received front-page mentions on North Shore News.

125. The inaugural Vancouver Opera Festival was promoted outdoors around metro Vancouver over three months on a combination of delivery bike wraps, and dozens of city banners, bus shelters, and bus-side ads.

126. Vancouver Opera’s logo has two elements – the Logomark (graphic) and the wordmark (text).  By flipping the letters VO on their side, the logomark encourages the viewer to look at Vancouver Opera from a new perspective.  It creates a vibrant and bold graphic reminiscent of singing open mouths - the shapes created by the sideway letters – and music notation.  The coming together of the V and O represents the connection of the city and art form, and where they overlap they are at their strongest and most intense.

127. Among five of the regular Marketing staff members, all own Macbook Pro laptops.  As a result, there is always a shortage of charging and adaptor dongles.

128.  At least two of the Marketing team members are Americans.

129. One of our  Marketing team members is a former writer for The Georgia Straight and one was a former staff at the Washington Post.

130. “I have lost count the number of times Irving had to go back stage to dressing rooms to console artists.  He had to do what teachers, coaches, husbands, lovers and mothers must also do: convince, cajole, ensure their security and find a way to get them on that stage.  He had a talent for this: he could distract them from their trauma and turn a situation completely around.  I won’t mention names, but most were the very famous ones.”
- Robert Dales 

131. Four different local photographers contributed to our 2017 Vancouver Opera Festival production and archival photography.

132. Lumberwitch Studios produces much of the marketing department’s videography; you will recognize their work in the 2017 Festival trailer as well as our lobby loops in the Queen Elizabeth Theatre and Vancouver Playhouse.

133. During production seasons, VO’s administrative staff regularly overhears rehearsals from the O’Brian Centre’s lower level. 

134. Our inaugural Vancouver Opera Festival programme, at a total of 116 pages including covers, is our largest festival programme ever, and our first ever programme to include material from three operas, festival events, and each of VO’s many departments.  It included an interview with Sister Helen Prejean and articles from composer Jake Heggie, SFU professor Paul Budra, and Radio-Canada’s Sylvia L’Écuyer.

135. VO’s lower-level rehearsal hall within the O’Brian Centre has been named for Martha Lou Henley, C.M., one of the company’s most generous and dedicated supporters. 

136. VO’s Patron Services and Ticket Centre teams both report to the Marketing department, and each comprise between two to six associates working three to five days a week.

137. VO’s founder Irving Guttman’s likeness was recently made into a national stamp.

138. The inaugural Vancouver Opera Festival’s Opera Bar included vintage opera posters and actual props from throughout Vancouver Opera’s almost 60-year history.

139. The area in the office in which the Marketing department resides is called the “North Niche”, and is known for being a site for regular sightings of bird’s nest cookies.

140. “It's my first time playing an opera with Vancouver Opera and I found the people to be welcoming and friendly and it was such a pleasure making beautiful music together.  Playing in Otello, the bassoons were sitting in the back row in the pit, and it was nice to have all that extra space behind us. Sitting at the back of the pit allowed us, bassoons, to see what was going on on stage via the reflection on the glass panel at the back of the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. A few of us were talking about and trying out each other's concert shoes in the green room.”
- Carrie To (Member, VO Orchestra)

141. VO’s first raffle was 30 years ago. Raffles have generated over $5,600,000 for Vancouver Opera in nearly 100 lotteries over those 30 years. We have given away cash and prizes worth nearly six million dollars. We have given away 20 Harleys, 18 Jaguars, 13 Porsches, 5 Mercedes, 3 Range Rovers, 1 Audi and 1 BMW.

142. “As a younger man and immigrant from Denmark, I worked for a company that owned Tahsis Company, a sawmilling and logging company on Vancouver Island’s West Coast.  The Chief Financial Officer was another Dane, Otto Andreasen.  He was the President of Vancouver Opera Association 1963-65 working with Irving Guttman.  Personally, I’m an opera fan and currently serve on the board of Vancouver Opera Foundation.”
- Poul Hansen, Vancouver Opera Guild Member and Director, Vancouver Opera Foundation

143. We process and mail an average of 32,000 lottery tickets each fiscal year.

144. Lottery ticket buyers must be in the province to buy, but can live anywhere in the world.  We have had winners from Manchester UK, Thunder Bay ON, and communities all over BC  including Dawson Creek, Terrace, Williams Lake, Fort St. James, Riondel, Saltspring Island, 100 Mile House, Crescent Valley and many from the Lower Mainland. One year, VO had to track down one grand prize winner who was volunteering in Africa!

145. “The fourth and final performance of a production of Rigoletto in 1981 was scheduled for Saturday, January 31.  Together with the Symphony (Mike Allerton) and the Playhouse (Marty Bragg), we had been attending meetings with labour lawyers and the Labour Relations Board (LRB) as the civic workers strike deadline approached.  On Monday, February 2nd, the LRB decided against our plea of hardship, and the Playhouse, QET and Orpheum remained closed behind picket lines.  We postponed our 21st anniversary production of Otello, planned for March 14, 17, 19 and 21.  Refusing to miss the 21st anniversary of the VOA, we organized a concert of Neapolitan songs sung by Carlo Bini at the Italian Cultural Centre on April 2nd.  We were able to reschedule Otello for August 1, 4, 6 and 8 with the entire original cast.  It was a pretty good show, with Bill Johns making his debut in the role, and Ben Heppner making his professional debut as Rodrigo.”
- Hamilton McClymont (former General Director, VOA) 

146. “During a 1972 rehearsal for a mainstage production, Irving Guttman lost his temper when a spotlight kept accidentally shining through the set. After asking that the problem be corrected numerous times to no avail, he flew up onstage and demanded that it be smashed. When Irving ‘lost it’, the stage would literally shake!”
- Robert Dales 

147. Vancouver Opera's annual Overture gala ranks among the city's most iconic annual fundraising events. Many past versions of this event have featured A-list talent as special entertainment, including Jennifer Hudson, k.d. lang and The Canadian Tenors.

148. Vancouver Opera's newly-commissioned Stickboy (in 2014), was an artistic milestone for the company, and was successful in attracting unprecedented community support. It remains the only project in VO's history that successfully garnered a grant from a provincial arts council beyond BC. 

149. Vancouver Opera’s 2013 production of Tosca was the first VO production to make use of a double cast in many years. The practice continued for the next few seasons. 

150. Vancouver Opera's 2013 production of Albert Herring was the first collaboration between the company and Pacific Opera Victoria. POV originally scaled the production for its own Royal Theatre, which seats 1,400. When the production debuted in Vancouver shortly thereafter, it had to be significantly re-scaled to suit the 2,800-seat Queen Elizabeth Theatre.


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