Designer gives a classic a fashion-forward new look for the Vancouver Opera Festival

Caitlin Wood stars in Vancouver Opera’s The Marriage of Figaro, featuring costumes by Toronto-based designer Sid Neigum. Emily Cooper Photography.

As part of the Vancouver Opera Festival (April 28-May 13), organizers have recruited a hot young Canadian fashion designer to do the costumes for The Marriage of Figaro.

Originally from central Alberta, Sid Neigum studied fashion in Edmonton and New York before settling in Toronto after winning the Toronto Fashion Incubator’s New Labels Award. He has also won the 2014 Mercedes-Benz Start Up Award and the 2015 Swarovski Emerging Talent Award at the Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards. His work has appeared in Vogue, Vogue Italia, Women’s Wear Daily, Fashion Magazine, and Elle Magazine. Coco Rocha, Jennifer Aniston, Jada Pinkett Smith, Stacey McKenzie, MTV’s Jessi Cruickshank, and Kim Cattrall are among the celebrities who have worn his clothes.

We chatted with Neigum about growing up in Alberta, working with Vancouver Opera on The Marriage of Figaro, and how the collaboration might affect his future work.

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Designer gives a classic a fashion-forward new look for the Vancouver Opera Festival

Ute Lemper brings Last Tango in Berlin to the Vancouver Opera Festival

Ute Lemper. Steffen Thalemann photo.

One of the special events at this year’s inaugural Vancouver Opera Festival is a performance by Ute Lemper.

The 53-year-old singer, who lives in New York with her family, will perform her show Last Tango in Berlin May 4 at the Orpheum Theatre. With a bar stool, microphone, and trio (piano, bandonen, and bass), the multilingual song stylist delves into cabaret ballads by Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht, chansons by Jacques Brel and Edith Piaf, tangos by Argentine composer Astor Piazzolla, and other songs cherry-picked from her other current repertoires.

Reviewing the show in the New York Times, Stephen Holden described a 2013 performance as “a stream of consciousness in several languages, mostly German, French and English, in which Ms. Lemper interweaves songs, song fragments, personal reminiscences and social commentary into an impressionistic historical tapestry. Wearing a gleaming black cocktail dress, her eyes narrowed to slits, her sleek blonde head thrown back, she embodies the Marlene Dietrich archetype of a forbidding continental temptress who has seen it all.”

Here’s a partial transcription of our interview with the divine Ms. L.

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Ute Lemper brings Last Tango in Berlin to the Vancouver Opera Festival

Vancouver Opera Festival – Dead Man Walking

J'Nai Bridges and Daniel-Okulitch star in Dead Man Walking

J’Nai Bridges and Daniel-Okulitch star in Dead Man Walking, at the 2017 Vancouver Opera Festival. Emily-Cooper photo.

When most people think of opera, they think of classic, centuries-old pieces like La Bohéme, The Marriage of Figaro and Carmen, to name a few.

But one of the three major works being staged at the inaugural Vancouver Opera Festival (April 28-May 13) is a much more recent piece. Dead Man Walking is based on the 1993 book of the same name by Sister Helen Prejean, C.S.J., and which most people will know from a 1995 movie adaptation starring Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn. But, in 2000, it also became an opera, written by Jake Heggie with a libretto by Terrence McNally.

We talked to Joel Ivany, a Toronto-based director known for his innovative approach to opera, about bringing this version of Dead Man Walking to the Vancouver Opera Festival. (Note: Vancouver Opera Festival is offering a special promotion for Dead Man Walking, FORTY Under 40. Tickets for the opera are only $40 if you’re under 40. $40 under 40 tickets are available in limited quantities. To claim this deal, enter discount 6593 online at vancouveropera.ca/tickets. or call the ticket centre at 604-683-0222. Tickets will be available at will call and ID will be required.)

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Vancouver Opera Festival – Dead Man Walking

Visual art, Inuk throat-singing and German cabaret part of the first Vancouver Opera Festival

Tanya Tagaq, pictured here performing in Vancouver in 2011, is one of the performers at the inaugural Vancouver Opera Festival. Ashley Tanasiychuk photo.

Beginning April 28 and running until May 13, Vancouver will host its first opera festival. Presented by Vancouver Opera, the Vancouver Opera Festival includes three operas as well as concerts from celebrated Inuk throat singer Tanya Tagaq and German cabaret stylist Ute Lemper, an art installation by Vancouver artist Paul Wong, and more. Festival-goers will also be able to party and talk opera at an opera bar and tent set up on the plaza outside Queen Elizabeth Theatre (650 Hamilton St.) in downtown Vancouver.

That’s not all, as we learned in a conversation with Tom Wright, Director of Artist Planning.

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Visual art, Inuk throat-singing and German cabaret part of the first Vancouver Opera Festival

Sister-wives and opera meet in Vancouver Opera’s Dark Sisters

Dark Sisters 1

Vancouver Opera’s production of Dark Sisters opened last week. In the Georgia Straight, Alexander Varty writes, “Act 2 features singing and staging that will sear your brain.”

A tale of polygamy in a renegade Mormon community, the opera is making its Canadian premiere with Vancouver Opera. Previously performed in New York and Philadelphia, Dark Sisters is written by hotshot New York composer Nico Muhly with a libretto by Stephen Karam, and it’s at the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre (600 Hamilton St.) from Dec. 3-6 and 10 & 12.

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Sister-wives and opera meet in Vancouver Opera’s Dark Sisters

Evita, Madama Butterfly and More Coming to Vancouver Opera

Madonna as Evita. Photo sourced from Robsmovievault.

No, Madonna isn’t coming to Vancouver. But Evita is. Photo sourced from Robsmovievault.

Two of operas most popular masterpieces, not to mention a globally successful musical and a Canadian premiere are coming to the Vancouver Opera this season.

The largest company of its kind in Western Canada, the opera has a proud history stretching back more than half a century. Over the decades, singing greats from Joan Sutherland to Placido Domingo have graced the stages of downtown’s Queen Elizabeth Theatre and other venues.

The 2015-2016 season will also be one of the opera’s last. Starting in 2017, the Vancouver Opera is transitioning to a festival model: presenting just three core productions during a three-week window in April. For opera fans (or newbies who have always wanted to go), that’s even more reason to get out and see a performance this year.  Continue reading:
Evita, Madama Butterfly and More Coming to Vancouver Opera

Last chance to see Stickboy

Stickboy. Tim Matheson photo.

Stickboy. Tim Matheson photo.

Vancouver Opera‘s presentation of Stickboy has been collecting rave reviews. Its run is almost over, but you can still see the the world premiere of this searing, acclaimed opera, which ends its run Friday Nov. 7.

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Last chance to see Stickboy