Vancouver Opera’s first Vancouver Opera Festival is featuring three main shows, Otello, Dead Man Walking, and The Marriage of Figaro. The full three-week festival has a lot of exciting shows going on, so check it all out below.
Otello and Dead Man Walking will be performed 4 times each, in the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. Acclaimed Italian tenor Antonello Palombi is making his Canadian debut in Otello for the festival. Vancouver-raised soprano Erin Wall will sing as Desdemona, and Canadian Baritone Gregory Dahl will perform Iago’s role.
“Palombi has a rich and beautiful voice, a touch baritonal in timbre….he sings with consistent sensitivity and warmth, and he acts passionately as well” – International Opera Review.
Based on the well-known book by Sister Helen Prejean and the popular movie, Dead Man Walking is the most-produced 21st-century opera by Jake Heggie (libretto by Terrence McNally). Canadian bass-baritone Daniel Okulitch will sing the role of convicted murderer Joseph De Rocher, as legendary Canadian mezzo-soprano Judith Forst will sing the role of his mother, Mrs Patrick De Rocher. Sister Helen herself is slated to appear at a free public forum at the Festival, to share her compassionate interest in the issues of capital punishment, incarceration and restorative justice.
Over at Vancouver Playhouse, The Marriage of Figaro is the third opera production in the Festival and will be performed 13 times. Award-winning stage director Rachel Peake (Stickboy, 2014) directs the striking new contemporary production and lists a cast comprised of emerging opera stars from Canada and beyond. For the first time in VO history, the sets will be constructed entirely in the VO Scene Shop, located at the O’Brian Centre for Vancouver Opera.
We also have some vocal and choral performances, along with a film night and visual art.
German singer and actress Ute Lemper, one of the world’s great song stylists, makes a rare Vancouver appearance, for two performances of her show “Last Tango in Berlin”, with support from the Goethe Institute. Backed by a superb trio (piano, bandoneon, bass), Ute Lemper explores the backstreets of Berlin, Paris, New York and Buenos Aires in songs by Weill & Brecht, Brel, Piaf, Ferré and Piazzolla.
In collaboration with Music On Main, VO presents Tanya Tagaq, the Polaris Prize-winning throat singer, in performance. Nunavut-born Tagaq combines Inuit tradition with modern electronica, industrial and metal influences in a riveting vocal performance.
Maestro Jonathan Darlington conducts and Leslie Dala is the chorus director of what will be one of the largest massed opera choruses in the city’s history. In a unique and entertaining evening of choral singing, members of invited regional professional, semi-professional and amateur choirs bring their best, massing onstage with the VO Chorus and VO Orchestra to sing famous opera choruses. Presented in collaboration with the Vancouver Bach Choir.
In collaboration with DOXA Documentary Film Festival, VO will screen an engrossing opera-themed documentary Becoming Traviata. VO has also commissioned Audain Prize-winning artist Paul Wong to create “Five Octave Range”, a new immersive site-specific video installation which will incorporate archival images from five decades of VO productions. Paul Wong is an acclaimed visual, media and interdisciplinary artist and curator. Known for pioneering early visual and media art in Canada, he has founded several artist-run groups, spearheaded lively discussions around public arts policy, organised events, festivals, conferences and public interventions since the 1970s.