Calgary Opera has walked off the stage and into the great outdoors to perform under the big top on the banks of the Bow River. Opera in the Village is Canada’s only outdoor summer opera festival. The company still performs indoors the rest of the year, but this innovative venue is a summer show stopper.
Under the Big Top
Each August, a huge open-sided white tent is erected on the promenade to house the ten-day festival. Calgary’s first settlers once pitched canvas tents on the very same site here in the East Village where the city was founded in 1875. Today, the promenade is one of the go-to places for summer entertainment.
Over 900 patrons of the arts can enjoy the opera each evening. In the past, favourites like Pirates of Penzance and Candide have brought the house down. I can’t wait to find out what will be on the marquee this summer. This will be my first Opera in the Village and I plan to bring along a few friends who have never been to the opera. Given the venue, I expect to make some converts.
The whole celebration of the arts is big, so plan to be there long before the curtain rises to take it all in. The festival site surrounding the tent has roving performers and circus acts, outdoor recitals, food trucks and side-stage performances by the opera youth summer camp. After the curtain comes down to thunderous applause, join the patrons lingering at the beer gardens to discuss the production and enjoy the last light of one of those long summer evenings Alberta is known for.
The Main Stage
Since the first note of La Bohѐme rang out at the Southern Jubilee Auditorium in 1973, Calgary Opera has been recognized for its outstanding commitment to presenting engaging classics and emerging works. And their support of emerging Canadian artists has proved a good investment.
Each year, the company stages three full-scale productions including world premieres of new works showcasing local and international artists. While it’s always exciting to see the new shows, I do enjoy it when they perform the classics. Each time they do a Madame Butterfly or Marriage of Figaro, it may be a different cast, different set, props and direction but when they sing my favourite songs – it’s still the same and I love it.
Small Stage Opera with a Cowtown Twist
Watch for the talented Cowtown Opera Company offering a lighter take on opera in the trendy neighbourhood of Inglewood. The troupe offers cheeky, English interpretations of the classics. It’s very interactive and fun to be part of. When was the last time you sang along to The Phantom of the Opera?
Big stage, small stage or under the big top, opera in Calgary is not to be missed.