Missing – background information

Missing, our third commission, is now well underway. Text-only workshops were concluded after three days at the Native Education College, and another day at the DTES Carnegie Centre, in August 2016.

Composer:  Brian Current. Librettist: Marie Clements. Producers: City Opera Vancouver and Pacific Opera Victoria. Principal donor: The Vancouver Foundation.

Piano-vocal workshops for Missing:  20 - 26 February 2017, in Victoria. 28 February and 1 March, in Vancouver.

Performances: 1 November 2017, a private event for the families only. 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11 November, the York Theatre, Vancouver. 16, 18, 20, 22, 24 and 26 in Victoria. Venue TBA. In planning:  Spring 2018, a tour along the Highway of Tears, from Prince Rupert to Prince George.

MORE THANKS:  to the BC Arts Council for generous interim funding for Missing, and to The Leon Judah Blackmore Foundation for a major production grant. And, as always, to our many private donors and supporters. We are grateful beyond words.

NEWS BREAK:  on 18 September 2015, The Vancouver Foundation awarded City Opera a grant of $127,000 toward the creation and workshopping of Missing Women. We are deeply proud of their confidence, and grateful for their support.


BACKGROUND:  Set in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, and along the Highway of Tears, Missing will tell a story everyone knows, from the vantage of a woman no one remembers.

This is strong and essential drama, and a Canadian tragedy by every measure.

It is now in preparation by Marie Clements, a First Nations playwright of dazzling gifts. We will give its world premiere at Vancouver on 1 November 2017, in a private event for the families. The five-performance public run will begin two nights later, at the York Theatre. It will then run an additional six nights at Pacific Opera Victoria, our partners in development and production of the piece.

Missing will be a chamber opera, for small forces. It will be designed for touring. We plan to take it along the Highway of Tears to Prince George, to Winnipeg, to Ottawa, and to other Canadian centres where this story needs to be heard, witnessed and discussed.

City Opera employs an unusual method to heighten objectivity in choosing a composer. This artist is not selected until the libretto is largely complete. (The words always come first.) We commissioned four Canadian composers to set a lengthy excerpt from it. We thus discovered the real sounds and settings that a prospective composer would deploy, and avoided mere hopefulness.

These settings were anonymized, and the music sung by mezzo Marion Newman before a Jury at the Canadian Music Centre on 21 April 2016. The Jury (including professionals not affiliated with City Opera or Pacific Opera) then chose “number three”. Only after did they learn the composer’s identity:  the Juno-award winning Brian Current. Missing will be Brian's third chamber opera.

We will then take another year to compose the work, to test it in public workshops at the DTES Carnegie Centre, the Native Education College, and Pacific Opera Victoria, make changes advised, raise the funds required for production, hire the design and production team, create the piano-vocal score, and the full score -- and so much more that goes into the creation of a new chamber opera.

We are now putting together our team of partners and advisors. At this date:


Lorna Brown (Vancouver). Métis visual artist, curator, writer and editor. Chair, Leon and Thea Koerner Foundation. Creator, Digital Natives, Institutions by Artists, and Ruins in Process

Keith Turnbull (Montréal). Director, dramaturge in theatre and opera; past Artistic Director, Banff Theatre Arts; founding Artistic Director NDWT Co., a First Nations theatre company

Hon Steven Point (Xwĕ lī qwĕl tĕl) (Vancouver) OBC. Former Chief of Skowkale First Nation; former Tribal Chair of Stó:lō Nation; former Chief Commissioner of BC Treaty Commission; former chair of Advisory Committee on security of vulnerable women; former Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia



  • Native Advisory Group, DTES Families Only Presentation: Faye Blaney, Cassandra Eastman, Tina Eastman, Rosemary Georgeson, Eunice McMillan
  • Dan Guinan, President, Native Education College
  • Tomson Highway, writer
  • Terry Hunter, Executive Director, Vancouver Moving Theatre and Artistic Producer, the Downtown Eastside Heart of the City Festival
  • Murry Krause, Executive Director, Central Interior Native Health Society; and, City Councillor, Prince George
  • Judy McGuire, Inner City Safety Society
  • Heather Redfern, Executive Director, York Theatre
  • Donna Spencer, Artistic Producer, Firehall Arts Centre
  • Dr Richard Vedan, Secwepemc First Nation, UBC
  • Savannah Walling, Artistic Director, Vancouver Moving Theatre and Associate Artistic Director, the Downtown Eastside Heart of the City Festival
  • Cathi Charles Wherry, First People’s Cultural Council
  • Ethel Whitty, Executive Director, DTES Carnegie Centre

“I am intrigued by what the author has captured in the story.  It is after all the story that matters, the emotional content of what happened follows, and the opera can express that in ways no other medium can. I am pleased with the theme of the opera and I really like what has been written so far. It is an amazing story that deserves our collective attention. Thank you for doing this.”

Hon Steven L Point
Former Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia

July 2, 2015