About City Opera Vancouver

Welcome to City Opera Vancouver.

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. We are currently supporting two new operas.



Margaret Atwood’s PAULINE, set at Vancouver in March 1913, accounts the final days of Pauline Johnson. Tobin Stokes wrote the music, and its stage director was Norman Armour. It premiered on 23 May 2014, and sold out all five nights at the York Theatre in Vancouver.


FALLUJAH is a groundbreaking work based on the real life experiences of US Marine Corps Sergeant Christian Ellis at the Battle of Fallujah in 2004. Its libretto was written by Iraqi-American Heather Raffo, and its music by Canadian Tobin Stokes. A film documentary about the opera, made by John Bolton of Opus 59 Films, may be seen at www.explore.org. Its workshop premiere was given on 13 May 2012 at the Frederic Wood Theatre in Vancouver.


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 music 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, 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.


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.

* In late 2017 we present our next commission, Missing Women, set in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver.


First Commissions

* 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. It 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.

* 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, with the working title Fallujah, is inspired by the life and work of Sgt. Christian Ellis (USMC, ret'd). Its  music is by Canadian Tobin Stokes, and libretto by American Heather Raffo. 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. 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.