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We are a professional chamber opera company. We produce opera from its rise in 1600 through to new opera alive in our own time. We commission new Canadian opera. We present concerts that animate our brand, widen our audience, and take our music to people where they live.
At City Opera, we are building a repertoire. Building an audience. And building a company. Welcome to the rising future of opera.
CHINATOWN • BERLIN 1934: THE LAST CABARET • NIGREDO HOTEL • MISSING • THE LOST OPERAS OF MOZART • PAULINE • FALLUJAH • SUMIDAGAWA & CURLEW RIVER • THE EMPEROR OF ATLANTIS • CARMINA BURANA • YEAR-ROUND CONCERTS & SPECIAL EVENTS
September 2021 at The Vancouver Playhouse
Libretto by Madeleine Thien
Music by Alice Ping Yee Ho
A Project Supported by The Vancouver Foundation and The City of Vancouver
“We are proud to announce that a City Opera jury has chosen renowned Canadian composer Alice Ping Yee Ho to write the music for our next new work: CHINATOWN,” said City Opera president Ethel Whitty.
“This opera will tell the story of the history, people, and culture of one of our most important neighbourhoods,” added Whitty. “Its libretto has been written by Canadian author Madeleine Thien, winner of the Giller Prize and Governor-General’s Award for Do Not Say We Have Nothing.”
Alice is one of the most acclaimed composers writing in Canada today. She works in many musical genres (CHINATOWN will be her third opera), and has received such awards as the $25,000 Johanna Metcalf Performing Arts Prize (2019), Louis Applebaum Composers Award (2016), and Dora Mavor Moore Award (2013) for ‘Outstanding Original Opera’.
Her works have been performed by the Toronto, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Victoria, Nova Scotia, Hamilton, Kitchener-Waterloo, and Windsor symphony orchestras, and the Finnish Lapland Chamber Orchestra, Esprit Orchestra, China National Symphony, Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra, Polish Radio Choir, Estonia's Ellerhein Girls' Choir, the Luxembourg Sinfonietta, Le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, New Music Concerts, Penderecki String Quartet, TorQ percussion quartet, Duo Concertante, and at the ISCM World Music Days, Ottawa Chamberfest, Demark's CRUSH New Music Festival, and Asian Music Week in Japan. A two-time JUNO Award Nominee (2015 and 2018), she has an impressive discography released on the Centrediscs, Naxos, Marquis Classics, Blue Griffin, Electra, and Phoenix labels.
“Ho’s musical language is a startlingly original three-way mélange of Baroque, traditional Chinese and contemporary Western idioms. The sung dialogue (the libretto is in English) between the two illicit lovers is strikingly stylized, as if they were acting out a ritual while having a conversation. Rhythmic energy and fresh, exotic instrumental colors spill from every bar in Ho’s expertly deployed mashup of instruments from different cultures—pipa, zhongruan and erhu with lute, recorders and harpsichord, plus modern strings and ominously pounding percussion.” –- The Lesson of Da Ji. Joshua Rosenblum, Opera News, New York. May 2016
Alice holds a Bachelor of Music in composition with high distinction from Indiana University, and a Master of Music in composition from the University of Toronto. Her teachers have included John Eaton (USA), Brian Ferneyhough (Germany), and John Beckwith (Canada). Alice speaks fluent Cantonese. This is her first commission for City Opera.
CHINATOWN is planned for world premiere in September 2021, at the 668-seat Vancouver Playhouse. The evening will commence with a community dinner, and a memorial parade to The Vancouver Playhouse. This special event will honour the elders and community leaders who have made Chinatown possible, unique, and essential, all these years.
The Vancouver Foundation awarded City Opera Vancouver a three-year creation and production grant for its new opera, CHINATOWN. This complements an award previously granted by the City, through its Creative City Strategies programme.