Five Must-See’s at the 2018 Vancouver Opera Festival

Two powerful opera productions take centre stage at the second annual Vancouver Opera Festival (April 28 to May 6), but plenty of ancillary activities will add to the celebratory atmosphere. This year’s theme of “Russian White Nights” promises luminous, dreamy operatic productions; boldly flavourful Russian delicacies; and pop-up street performances surprising and delighting attendees.

Here’s a taste of what we’re looking forward to most:

Anchor productions Eugene Onegin and The Overcoat – a musical tailoring Tchaikovsky’s lyric masterpiece Eugene Onegin tells the story of a selfish hero who is tormented by his rejection of a young woman’s love and a fatal duel with his best friend. The performance was produced in collaboration with the Calgary Opera and takes place at Queen Elizabeth Theatre. The Overcoat – a musical tailoring inspired by the darkly comedic 1998 play –follows a lowly office worker whose life is turned upside down when his new overcoat is stolen. Crafted for intimate audiences, the show will be performed at the Playhouse Theatre.

Russian-style street food, Circus West performers and artistic projections  Opening day (April 28) will see Queen Elizabeth Plaza play host to an array of food trucks selling Russian-inspired fare; roving street performers titillating audiences with circus-style antics and gravity-defying acrobatics; artistic projections on a 42-foot-long schooner with 22-foot-high sails, which relay a popular Russian love story; big-screen presentations of select Russian films; audience participation; and more. Entry to the Plaza celebration is free.

A multifaceted ode to Russian composers, singers and symphonies  The symphonic delights of Russian music abound at multiple locations, and in many forms, throughout the festival. The Russian Songfest features up-and-coming singers from the Vancouver Opera’s training programs (May 2). Russian White Nights: Opera Arias from 18th-century St. Petersburg, a collaborative composition of Russian baroque music produced by Vancouver Early Music, offers a delightful afternoon sojourn at the Chan Centre for Performing Arts (May 6). And five chamber music concerts spotlighting Russian composers and artists, performed by members of the Vancouver Opera Orchestra and guests, will run at CBC Studio 700 (multiple dates).

Fun for the family  On May 5, the Vancouver Opera Festival will host a full day dedicated to families with free theatre tours and intimate workshops led by performance artists. Kiddies of all ages will enjoy a spirited performance of Where the Wild Things Are (presented by the Vancouver Opera and Delta School District), and younger audiences will adore learning about various orchestral instruments at an interactive performance of Prokofiev’s beloved Peter and the Wolf. Teens can drop by a special pre-show presentation prior to Eugene Onegin, which will discuss the story, the composer and his music; and both teens and their parents attending the show will receive a special discount on tickets.

Bars! Throughout the nine days of the event, guests can convene over a glass of wine to discuss their favourite festival experiences. A daily Happy Hour bar will be set up at Queen Elizabeth Theatre Plaza from 5pm onward on most days throughout the festival, allowing guests to indulge in a pre-show tipple while snacking on fare supplied by the city’s top food trucks. The lively Opera Bar will open on weekends throughout the festival, attracting both attendees and performers with an eclectic mix of talent from both the opera and DJ world, providing dynamic entertainment.

Also: be sure to attend the festival’s moving tribute to Jonathan Darlington, Music Director of the Vancouver Opera Orchestra (May 1, 7.30pm at the Vancouver Playhouse). Appropriately titled “From Russia with Love to Jonathan Darlington”, the evening will feature a six hands piano performance by the Maestro himself and friends, as well as dance and musical performances and a post-show lobby toast. For more details about Vancouver Opera Festival, visit


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