About City Opera Vancouver

Welcome to City Opera.

We are a professional chamber opera company. We produce opera. We create new opera. We present recitals and concerts. We work in a metro area of 2.3 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 will 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.

* In October 2016 we offer our next mainstage production, The Lost Operas of Mozart:  three he began, but never finished. Two are Italian comedies, and the third a German romance. Running 27, 28 and 29 October, at Christ Church Cathedral. "The trouble starts at 8"

* In November 2017 we present our next commission, Missing Women, set in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, and along the Highway of Tears.

City Opera Commissions



We have engaged a dazzling Aboriginal playwright, Marie Clements, to conceive and draft the scenario for our next commission, Missing Women. Set in the Downtown Eastside and along the Highway of Tears, it will tell a story everyone knows, from the vantage of a woman no one remembers. The libretto, now in progress, is due by 31 January 2016. It is all made possible by an extraordinary creation grant of $127,000 awarded by The Vancouver Foundation in September 2015.

This libretto will be the subject of public workshops beginning in early 2016. Thereafter we will invite three composers to set a lengthy excerpt from the actual libretto, to be sung by the actual voices intended. These works, anonymized, will be performed for a professional Jury on 21 April 2016, and shortly after announce our choice. Composition of the opera then begins immediately.

We will run workshops for the entire opera. Once finalized, Missing Women will be scored, enter rehearsal, and be premiered in November 2017. 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 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). Its  music is by Canadian Tobin Stokes, its libretto by American Heather Raffo, and its sub-text PTSD. Our workshop 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 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.