A New Opera by Margaret Atwood and Tobin Stokes
City Opera Vancouver announces Pauline, a chamber opera based on the life and final days of Canadian writer, poet, and actress Pauline Johnson. The music for Pauline has been written by Tobin Stokes, and the libretto by Margaret Atwood.

Pauline Johnson (1861-1913) traveled across Canada, the United States and Great Britain giving readings of her own work when such independence was rare and remarkable. She was the child of a Mohawk chief and a Quaker Englishwoman, and torn by loyalty and ambition. Pauline lived her last years in Vancouver and died a terrible death of breast cancer, treated by crude surgery and morphine.

Pauline is set at Vancouver in March 1913. Haunted by failure, torn by her dual identity as both Mohawk and white, Pauline Johnson fights to confront her past before the end, as her doctor tries to control the pain and her sister tries to control the story that will be told.

The world premiere of Pauline will be given at the York Theatre in Vancouver, 8pm, Friday 23 May 2014. Later performances will take place on 25, 27, 29 and 31 May. Tickets went on sale 17 February 2014 in person, by phone, or online through The Cultch only.


Margaret Atwood is one of the world's leading authors. Pauline was conceived by Ms. Atwood, and will be her first opera.

Tobin Stokes is one of Canada's most distinguished composers. His work is widely published, recorded and performed, and has earned numerous prizes. Pauline will be his fifth opera.

Pauline is the second commission made by City Opera Vancouver. It will be directed by Norman Armour.

Creating the central role of Pauline Johnson will be dramatic mezzo Rose-Ellen Nichols. Her sister Eva will be sung by soprano Sarah Vardy. The tenor roles of Drayton, manager, and doctor will be taken by Adam Fisher. Other members of the cast include bass John Minágro as Grandfather Smoke, mezzo Cathleen Gingrich as the mother and nurse, baritone Edward Moran as the father, minister, and Mr Smiley, and sopranos Diane Speirs and Eleonora Higginson as the Two Ladies.

City Opera announces the appointment of Cameron Mackenzie, assistant stage director; Jayson Mclean, production manager; Ingrid Turk, stage manager; Marianne Nicolson, set and visual design; Mara Gottler, costume design;  John Webber, lighting design; Lorna Brown, research consultant; Lindsay Katsitsakaste Delaronde, advisor; Hilde Binford, titleist; David Boothroyd, coach and pianist; Jim Littleford, orchestra contractor; Charles Barber, music director and conductor.

We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Tom Lee Music, Steinway & Sons, the late Prof Abraham Rogatnick, Accent Inns, Georgina M Brunette, Carolyn McAskie, Margaret E Prang, Alexandra Volkoff, the Audain Foundation, Heffel Fine Art Galleries, the estate of Kitty Heller, the McLean Foundation of Toronto, the Leon and Thea Koerner Foundation, accessibility sponsor Vancity Credit Union, the Hamber Foundation, the Vancouver Foundation, the Edith Lando Charitable Foundation, Vancity Community Foundation, British Columbia Gaming Grants, Stern Partners Inc, the Vancouver Parks Board and Stanley Park125, the SFU Vancity Office of Community Engagement, the Department of Cultural Services at the City of Vancouver, the BC Arts Council, and the Canada Council / Conseil des arts du Canada.