City Opera Commissions

Missing (2017)

We engaged the dazzling indigenous playwright Marie Clements, and the Juno-award winning composer Brian Current, to create our third commission, Missing. Set in the Downtown Eastside and along the Highway of Tears, it tells 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 in February 2017 in Victoria and Vancouver. Missing was first made possible by an extraordinary creation grant of $127,000 awarded by The Vancouver Foundation in September 2015.

The first performance, on 1 November 2017, was private, and by invitation to the families only. The public performances ran on 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11 November 2017 at the York Theatre. Immediately thereafter, it was given six performances at Pacific Opera Victoria. From the beginning this chamber opera was designed for small forces, portability, and touring.

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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.

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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 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. A KCET film documentary about our opera won a Los Angeles Emmy Award in 2017.

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