Welcome to City Opera 

We are a professional chamber opera company. We produce opera from the rise of the genre in 1600 through to new opera alive in our own time. We commission new Canadian opera. We present recitals and concerts that build our brand, widen our audience, and take our music to people where they live. We work in a metro area of 2.5 million people, and in a culture of tremendous creativity.

At City Opera, we are building a repertoire. Building an audience. And building a company. Welcome to the rising future of opera.


Chamber Opera.  Intimate eloquence.

So close you can almost touch it.

Our next event: an online Art Auction in support of City Opera.  Conducted for us by Heffel Fine Art Auction House.  7 - 28 March 2019. Lots 408, 413, 417, 429, and 432. View them online.



CHINATOWN / September 2021

Libretto by Madeleine Thien

“It will tell the story of the history, people, and culture of one of our most important neighbourhoods. It could not be more timely,” said City Opera president Janet Lea.

Vancouver-born and raised, Madeleine Thien is best known for her historical novel DO NOT SAY WE HAVE NOTHING (2016), winner of the Giller Prize and the Governor-General’s Award. It has been translated into 17 languages. CHINATOWN will be her first opera.

Said Thien, “I’m honoured to have this chance to immerse in the intricate and complex life of Vancouver’s Chinatown. For over a century, this neighbourhood has been the centre of gravity for the imaginings, stories, experiences, heartbreaks and hopes of Vancouver’s Chinese community. Many people – from divergent and overlapping histories and languages – call this neighbourhood home; for me, Strathcona and Chinatown are at the core of my own childhood and teenaged years.

“I’m deeply moved to be part of this project. I look forward to learning all that I can, and to working on an opera that might create, in unanticipated ways, a profound experience of our shared history and future.”

City Opera Vancouver, established in 2006, is a professional chamber opera company that specializes in new and unusual work, featuring Canadian themes and artists. CHINATOWN is City Opera’s fifth commission, and world premiere, in nine years.

City Opera Vancouver will conduct a wide series of workshops and community consultations in creation of CHINATOWN. To date, 34 meetings have been held with the elders, leaders, historians and people of Chinatown. Many more will follow over the next three years.

The composer will be chosen, in a Juried process, after the first draft libretto is complete.

CHINATOWN is planned for world premiere in September 2021. 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 has 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, on 13 November 2018.

“We are honoured and grateful,” said City Opera president Janet Lea. “The generosity and imagination of The Vancouver Foundation, and of the City of Vancouver, will allow us to lead creation of an important work about the history, the people, and the future of Chinatown.

“Art elevates discourse. It moves us from the abstract to the personal. Our new opera will lead to a new discussion -- at many levels -- about one of our most important neighbourhoods and peoples. It could not be more timely.”


NIGREDO HOTEL / September 2018 / now concluded

A bizarre, comic and macabre opera

You can’t imagine who checks in next…

Nigredo Hotel is the story of an encounter between a beautiful but crazed woman who runs a shoddy hotel, and a brain surgeon who takes refuge there after he crashes his car. By Nic Gotham and  Ann-Marie MacDonald. 

Directed by Alan Corbishley [www.alancorbishley.com], and starring Tyler Duncan [www.tylerduncan.ca] and Sarah Vardy [sarahvardy.com]. Set and lighting design by John Webber [johnwebber.ca]. Costumes by Barbara Clayden. Graphics by Sara Bailey [thinkmika.com/work/].

The hotel opened on 20 September 2018, and continued on 21 and 22 September, all at 8pm, and all at The Cultch.