Vancouver Opera boosts regular-season programming in 2017-18 lineup announcement

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      Vancouver Opera plans to return to a limited season on top of its spring festival, after receiving feedback from its audience. It's just announced a 2017-18 roster that includes a full staging of Turandot in October and the debut of The Overcoat: an Opera, based on Morris Panych and Wendy Gorling's hit 1998 play.

      In releasing the lineup, new Vancouver Opera general director Kim Gaynor committed to giving fans a few opera fixes during the fall and winter, on top of the company's new Vancouver Opera Festival in late spring. 

      “My goal is to make sure Vancouver Opera produces opera throughout the year, while at the same time making programming innovations necessary to thrive as a modern opera company," she said in the announcement today. "We’ve listened carefully to patrons and supporters throughout the past year, and are proposing a 2017/18 season which reflects their expressed desire for opera year round, as well as excitement about our new festival format. The season I am announcing today is a considered and balanced response to their feedback, and is also designed to ensure the artistic growth of our organization.”

      With that in mind, the VO will stage the classic Giacomo Puccini work Turandot from October 13 to October 21 at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. Making her role debut as Turandot is rising American soprano Amber Wagner, with Argentinean tenor Marcelo Puente making his debut with Vancouver Opera as Calaf.

      Then, from January 19 to 27 at the Queen E., the VO puts on Gaetano Donizetti’s comedic romance L’elisir d’amore. Chinese soprano Ying Fang sings the part of Adina, while Canadian tenor Andrew Haji makes his Vancouver Opera debut as Nemorino.

      The Vancouver Opera Festival kicks off in late April 2018 with Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin (April 28 to May  6, 2018, at Queen Elizabeth Theatre). Though the title role has not been announced, Russian soprano Svetlana Aksenova will star as Tatyana, with her real-life husband, Maxim Aksenov, singing the role of Lenski.

      The fest also features the debut of The Overcoat: an Opera, with music by Canadian composer James Rolfe and libretto and direction by Morris Panych, a coproduction with The Canadian Stage Company and Tapestry Opera of Toronto (April 28 to May 12, 2018). The production reunites the key creative team from the original play, a genre-busting, wordless work that melded ballet, movement theatre, mime, and drama, and which was based on two short stories by Russian dramatist Nikolai Gogol. Morris Panych is the director, with choreography by Wendy Gorling, set design by Ken MacDonald, costume design by Nancy Bryant, and lighting design by Alan Brodie.  The work will premiere at Toronto's Bluma Appel Theatre in March 2017 before coming to the Vancouver Playhouse - where the original Overcoat debuted 20 years ago.

      Finally, dates are yet to be announced for a staging of Requiem for a Lost Girl, written and directed by Onalea Gilbertson with music by Marcel Bergmann. Part of the VO's education and outreach programming, the chamber musical explores themes of poverty, mental illness, and addiction, playing out as a memorial service for a young woman. It is created and performed in partnership with a chorus of men, women, and children who have experienced homelessness. 

      There had been some outcry when the VO announced in 2015 that it would be moving to a spring festival format, cancelling its regular season. In late fall it instead staged a smaller production, the family show Hansel and Gretel, at the  Vancouver Playhouse stage, where it also mounted a nontraditional, South African version of Macbeth during the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival. Its inaugural Vancouver Opera Festival happens from April 28 to May 13 and features three main-stage shows: Otello, Dead Man Walking, and The Marriage of Figaro