Norman Armour to direct Pauline

Norman ArmourPuSh Festival co-founder Norman Armour has been tapped to direct Pauline, the first opera to feature a libretto by Canadian literary star Margaret Atwood, City Opera Vancouver president Nora Kelly announced today.

Pauline is a first foray into opera by Armour as well as Atwood, while the score is by Tobin Stokes, whose operatic credits include “Rattenbury”, “Fallujah” and “The Vinedressers”.

Set in Vancouver’s West End in 1913 in the last week of poet Pauline Johnson’s life, “Pauline is the poignant and powerful story of an independent woman who was Canada’s first performance artist. A writer, poet and artist generations ahead of her time, she was a proto-Canadian who anticipated the dual cultures and identities of our age.

“Norman comes to “Pauline” from a long and distinguished career in stage direction,” noted Kelly in making the announcement. “He is a man of enormous creativity and dedication who understands theatre and knows how to tell a story. His imagination, leadership and teamwork in the performing arts are unparalleled. We are deeply honoured to have him join us.”

Armour’s well-known stagings, including “Blackbird” (2009), “San Diego” (2005), “Soulless” (2004), “Hedda Gabler” (2003), “Designated Mourner” (2003), “Three in the Back, Two in the Head” (2001), and “War of the Worlds” (2000), set new standards in innovative Vancouver theatre.

He has received numerous Jessie Richardson Award nominations for his artistic output, producing efforts and community contributions, including Outstanding Director (Blackbird) and Outstanding Artistic Achievement (PuSh Festival).

“It’s an inspiring proposition and, without a doubt, one that will demand rigour, compassion and creativity – in equal measure – in order to do justice to the person and struggles of Pauline Johnson. City Opera has never feared such a challenge; they have never shied from tackling similarly big subjects.

“And for me, ‘excitement’ does not come close to describing my sense of anticipation.” Armour said.

“Pauline” will premiere at the restored and century-old York Theatre, on Commercial Drive, in May of 2014. The York seats 371 and is administered by The Cultch.