Is Vancouver Opera cutting its own throat?

2015/16 will be the last conventional four production September to May season for Vancouver Opera.  April 2017 will see a new look “opera festival” with three productions running in a three week window.  There’s the bright and cheerful official spin here.  But, seriously, this is a major cut by any other name.  For eleven months of the year Canada’s third largest metropolis will see no fully staged opera.  So even fewer opera jobs for singers, other musicians and everyone else who makes opera happen.  Sad.


Vancouver Opera’s 2015 production of Sweeney Todd

7 thoughts on “Is Vancouver Opera cutting its own throat?

  1. More than sad! And how is it possible that there is no oversight by the Board of Directors regarding allowing a $900K+ loss in one season? Then, they think, perhaps it won’t happen again in the same old format in the 2015/16 season.
    The numbers don’t add up, they just don’t.
    Goodness knows there are experienced opera folk in Vancouver like for instance Nancy Hermiston, Judith Forst to name two, that might be able to counsel this Board of Directors on opera.
    Furthermore, the COC, stopped operating a rep season during the fall season because it was too expensive .

  2. How a major arts organization like Vancouver Opera, supposedly administered by experienced professionals, operating in Western Canada’s wealthiest city, can lose $1M, not to mention a fatal chunk of their donor base in a single year after declaring a $400K surplus the previous fiscal utterly confounds me.

    • I’m always reluctant to comment on financials as reported in the media from company pressers. I’ve had too much experience comparing the reality of the COC accounts to the spin!

  3. Playing devil’s advocate: Fort Worth Opera has had great success by all accounts since moving to a spring festival format and Portland Opera made the headlines last year by doing something similar in the summer months. They might be an interesting test case as I notice they (like Vancouver Opera) program a big musical into the mix. Maybe this will work well for Vancouver Opera though as you point out, I too lament what this move might mean for jobs within the company: singers; musicians; admin types etc. etc. Vancouver Opera has already shaken up their programming by taking performances to smaller venues etc.; adding in musicals; new opera; interesting outreach strategies [e.g. the opera train; performances by young artists in suburban areas etc.] They appear to be doing all the right things, so in that light they’re hopefully on track!

    • Maybe but bear in mind that buried in there is a reduction from 4 shows to 3 so, given that one will be a musical, that’s 2 operas per season. Also with a three week window I’m betting there’s an even bigger cut in the number of performances.

  4. Sweeny Todd probably lost them a bundle. Broadway musicals and Gilbert and Sullivan operettas might have attracted new audiences but it lost them the old one so net gain was zero. If we’re down to 2/3 operas a year that means Carmen every year alternating with a Traviata/Rigoletto and Tosca/Boheme in repertory with a Don Giovanni thrown in for good measure. Very sad.

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