Bravo! the History of Opera in British Columbia

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BRAVO! THE HISTORY OF OPERA IN BRITISH COLUMBIA

Rosemary Cunningham

Madeira Park: Harbour Publishing Co., Ltd. Its publication adroitly coinciding with the 50th anniversary of Vancouver Opera and the 30th of Pacific Opera Victoria, Braval is the first book ever published on the history of opera in British Columbia.

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Some readers may be surprised to learn that staged opera was first experienced in B.C. as early as 1867, when evenings of excerpts were presented by touring companies. A decade later, the province's first fully staged opera was La sonnambula by the English and Comic Opera Company at Victoria's Theatre Royal. Vancouver had to wait until 1891, when the city lavished $10,000 on the Emma Juch Opera Company's complete staging of Lohengrin to celebrate the opening of the new Vancouver Opera House.

The surviving documentation of B.C.'s early operatic history is patchy, but Cunningham strides valiantly forth from the late 19th century to Vancouver's post-World War II socio-economic surge and the demographics that led to the formation of the Vancouver Opera Association in 1959. Carmen, its first production, came the following April. Chapters on Vancouver Opera and Pacific Opera Victoria (formed in 1980) are interspersed with those on organizations such as Vancouver New Music and the Modern Baroque Opera Company (MBOC). …

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