Vancouver Opera Festival releases attendance figures

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      The Vancouver Opera Festival is reporting that 20,000 people took in its first event.

      The number includes those who had tickets to actual opera productions--Otello and Dead Man Walking at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, and The Marriage of Figaro at the Vancouver Playhouse--as well those who attended its Tanya Tagaq and Ute Lemper concerts, screenings, art installations, master classes, and free community events.

      Kim Gaynor, general director of Vancouver Opera, said in the statement that it was a number to build on: “From our tradition of over fifty years of enriching the lives of opera goers, we will build on the success of our inaugural festival to secure the future of opera in Vancouver.”

      The festival's biggest successes were The Marriage of Figaro, staged at the more intimate Playhouse stage, which sold out or almost to capacity at more than half of its shows, and the sold-out Tagaq coproduction with Music on Main at the Vogue Theatre. No figures were available for other shows.

      Vancouver Opera caused a stir when it switched from a regular season to the festival format this year for financial reasons. The company argued it could save big costs by staging and marketing its productions closer together as an event that would take over the Queen Elizabeth Theatre plaza. 

      During the past 10 years of regular ticket seasons, the opera had drawn an average of 49,000 opera-goers annually.

      Earlier in this arts-calendar year, the opera enjoyed successful runs with two scaled-back, regular-season offerings: Macbeth (copresented with the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival) and the holiday show Hansel and Gretel, both presented at the Playhouse instead of its traditional, larger Queen Elizabeth Theatre venue, were reportedly nearly sold out.

      In the announcement of its 2017-18 season earlier this year, Vancouver Opera said it plans to return to even more of a season on top of its spring festival, after receiving feedback from its audience. Its 2017-18 roster includes a full staging of Turandot in October and of Gaetano Donizetti’s comedic romance L’elisir d’amore in January, both back at the larger Queen Elizabeth Theatre. 

      The Vancouver Opera Festival is scheduled to kick off in late April 2018 with Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin (April 28 to May  6, 2018, at Queen Elizabeth Theatre) and  also includes the debut of The Overcoat: an Opera, based on Morris Panych and Wendy Gorling's hit 1998 play.