About City Opera Vancouver

Welcome to City Opera.

We are a professional chamber opera company. We produce opera. We create new opera. Year-round, we present recitals and concerts. We work in a metro area of 2.5 million people, and in a culture of tremendous creativity.




City Opera Mission Statement

Our goal is to bring chamber opera to a wide audience. Our repertoire spans four centuries, from chamber opera’s beginnings to contemporary and commissioned works, with a special interest in Canadian themes and artists.

Opera is music drama: we present outstanding singers whose talent for tragedy and comedy will bring opera’s human stories to life. We give singers new repertoire to explore, and create new opportunities to hear voices that are at their best in an intimate setting. Accessible and innovative, with affordable advantage in production costs, City Opera offers a unique musical experience to Metro Vancouver audiences.

City Opera Vancouver was organized in 2006 in tandem with efforts to restore the century old, 650-seat Pantages Theatre in the Downtown Eastside. We are a member of the Community Arts Council of Vancouver, and a Community Partner of the Canadian Music Centre.

Coming Next

City Opera Vancouver is committed to great productions of extant music, and the commissioning of new. Here's what's coming next.

* In November 2017 we present our newest commission, Missing, set in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, and along the Highway of Tears. It is a story everybody knows, about a woman no one remembers. By Marie Clements and Brian Current.

* In November 2018 we give the Vancouver premiere of the legendary Nigredo Hotel, a bizarre, macabre and astonishing operatic thriller. It is the story of an encounter between a beautiful but crazed woman who runs a shoddy hotel, and a brain surgeon who takes refuge there after he crashes his car. You can't imagine what happens next. By Nic Gotham and  Ann-Marie MacDonald.

City Opera Commissions



We have engaged the dazzling Aboriginal playwright, Marie Clements, and the Juno-award winning composer Brian Current, to create our next commission, Missing. Set in the Downtown Eastside and along the Highway of Tears, it will tell a story everyone knows, about a woman no one remembers. We presented public text-only workshops in Spring 2016 at the Native Education College and the DTES Carnegie Centre, with public piano-vocal workshops coming in February 2017. Missing is made possible by an extraordinary creation grant of $127,000 awarded by The Vancouver Foundation in September 2015, and supplemented by very generous awards from the BC Arts Council and the Leon Judah Blackmore Foundation one year later.

In June 2016, City Opera and Pacific Opera Victoria entered a co-production agreement for the project. After workshops for the entire opera are concluded, Missing will be scored, enter rehearsal, and be premiered in November 2017. The first performance, on 1 November, will be private, and by invitation to the families only. The public performances run on 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11 November 2017 at the York Theatre. Immediately thereafter, it will be given five performances at Pacific Opera Victoria. From the beginning this chamber opera is designed for small forces, portability, and touring.


 * PAULINE (2014)

We commissioned Margaret Atwood's first opera, Pauline. It is set at Vancouver in March 1913, in the last week in the life of the celebrated Canadian artist Pauline Johnson. This new chamber opera, with the kind assistance of numerous public and private donors -- and special thanks to the late Abraham Rogatnick and Kitty Heller -- was given in workshop in September, October and November 2013.

Pauline was directed by Norman Armour, premiered on 23 May 2014 with music by Tobin Stokes, and sold out all five nights at the York Theatre. On 16 October 2015 we presented Pauline at Le Grand Théâtre de Québec, as part of the international literary festival Québec en toutes lettres.


* FALLUJAH (2012)

With a grant of $250,000 USD from the Los Angeles-based Annenberg Foundation / Explore, we created a new chamber opera set at Fallujah, Iraq in 2004. This project was inspired by the life and work of Sgt. Christian Ellis (USMC, ret'd). A profoundly anti-war piece, its  music is by Canadian Tobin Stokes, its libretto by Iraqi-American Heather Raffo, and its sub-text PTSD. Our director was John Wright.

Fallujah is in two acts, with 9 singers onstage, 11 players in the pit, and was finished in June 2012. The project was granted an additional $100,000 USD from the Foundation in order to produce a film of the process and outcome. Its multi-platform launch was inaugurated by a major Associated Press story on 2 July 2012, and by the Annenberg Foundation and its Explore.org website thereafter. After further revision by Tobin and Heather, Fallujah received its American premiere at Long Beach Opera in March 2016. It was produced at New York City Opera in November 2016, and is being considered for a third American production in 2017.