Fifty Years On, Vancouver Opera Is Still Going Strong

November 4, 2009 10:55 pm Last Updated: December 30, 2009 3:55 pm
Edel Rodriguez's award winning design for Vancouver Opera's golden year (Edel Rodriguez)
Edel Rodriguez's award winning design for Vancouver Opera's golden year (Edel Rodriguez)

To mark its 50th anniversary, Vancouver Opera is looking ahead to a full year of celebration. Canada’s second largest opera company will host a Golden Anniversary Concert and Gala on Nov. 6, and the party continues through the year with main stage productions of Norma, Nixon in China, The Marriage of Figaro, and Madama Butterfly.

Although Vancouver Opera has had its ups and downs over the years, it has always maintained a solid fan base of opera goers eager to take in a show. Balancing classics such as Carmen and The Marriage of Figaro with modern operas like Nixon in China has kept the crowds coming.

However, keeping people interested in a 16th century art form in today’s fast-paced multi-media existence “is always a marketing challenge,” says VO general director James Wright.

“There's just so many options people have that all of us—whether it's opera companies or symphonies or dance companies—we have to keep on our toes and we need to keep ahead of what’s happening and know how to reach people and get them to understand the value of what we bring.”

One way VO does this is with its interactive website and an opera manga comic series that tells the story of each opera in the Japanese picture board style.

“We've been using manga for four or five years and won some awards with it,” says Wright. “It's reaching a different group of people in an art form that's obviously really, really popular with people of all ages around the world, and we get amazing feedback.”