On a wet and snowy morning, opera music brought warmth to SkyTrain’s Stadium-Chinatown station.
Like sunshine, strains of “Habanera” from the opera Carmen radiated from an Expo Line car parked at a private platform.
Stunning in red, mezzo-soprano Kristin Hoff performed the popular aria at the end of the official announcement today (February 24) of a partnership between the Vancouver Opera and TransLink.
Called “Opera Trains”, the project seeks to connect audiences to VO’s opera productions at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in downtown Vancouver through the ease of public transit.
“Vancouver Opera’s strategic plan includes an effort to broaden and deepen our collaborations and connections inside Vancouver but also most importantly, outside Vancouver,” VO’s director of marketing Doug Tuck said in a press conference at the station.
Tuck noted that reaching new audiences involves three major challenges.
One is unfamiliarity with the repertoire, “especially in communities that are culturally diverse”, he said.
That’s why VO is bringing a series of “Opera’s Greatest Hits—and More” concerts to Surrey and Richmond to “give people a sample of opera, to hear opera singers up close in their own communities, directly connected to them”, Tuck said.
Two sampler concerts this month sold out, according to Tuck.
Another challenge is to encourage ticket purchases for the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. So what the VO is doing is to make “Opera’s Greatest Hits—and More” affordable at $20 for adults, and $18 for seniors and children under 18.
Those who come to the sampler concerts in Surrey and Richmond will get “opera bucks”, or vouchers worth $20, that they can use to buy tickets to VO’s two upcoming shows. These are Don Giovanni opening on March 1, and Don Carlo beginning on May 3.
The third challenge is the distance to the opera theatre. This is where TransLink comes in.
The transportation authority is providing day passes worth $9.75 that will come with ticket purchases for Don Giovanni or Don Carlo by patrons using their opera bucks, Tuck said.
In addition, there will be opera performances on the SkyTrain on the way to the matinees of Don Giovanni and Don Carlo on March 9 and May 11, respectively.
The party will begin at 11:30 a.m. on the concourse of Surrey Central Station on those dates. The Opera Train will leave for Vancouver at 12:02 p.m. The public can board the train, and join the party on the train if they paid fare.
“It’s very smart to get out of your car, and come downtown to the opera on Opera Trains,” Tuck said.
John Beaudoin, TransLink’s director of customer engagement and marketing, said at the press conference that the transportation authority is supporting Opera Trains through its TravelSmart program.
“TravelSmart is about encouraging people in this region to consider transportation options that include walking, cycling, carpooling, and transit for anything that they may do, whether it’s work or school or even just, you know, wanting to get around to look at things and enjoy cultural events like the Vancouver Opera,” Beaudoin said.
After the announcement, a mini-show started with Hoff performing “Habanera”. Next was tenor Rocco Rupolo with “Vainement, ma bien aimee” (In vain, my beloved) from Le roi d’Ys (The King of Ys).
Hoff and Rupolo then joined for the invigorating “La danza” by composer Gioachino Rossini, while trains headed east and west across the tracks made their stops on a wet and snowy morning.