How We Do It
So let’s consider the people offstage—the community we build and connect with through opera.
Why do we care so much about what we do? Why Calgary Opera?
Our mainstage shows are big. We invite over 2,000 people into the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium for every performance, which adds up to about 15,000 people per year. That’s because we only have 9 shows per season—big shows, that is.
Because when we say big, we mean big. The sets are immense and immersive. The singing is loud. Really, heart-grippingly loud… and our singers don’t use microphones. The house is filled with thousands of Calgarians, talking and laughing together between acts and sharing the experience of the action onstage when the house lights are down.
These people are familiar friends and new friends, and Calgary Opera is a place where staff, artists and audience mingle and connect, because we’re all there for the same things: to feel, to experience, and to grow.
We believe in growth.
It’s part of our commitment to creating new works. It also drives us to bring our unique talents to the city around us.
Calgary Opera performs in elementary schools. Not one or two elementary schools, but 35 every year. Our Emerging Artists tour around Calgary and other communities in Alberta with a (very nifty) portable set, which changes each year, with each show. They entertain and take questions from up to 20,000 students. Imagine the impact a live performance by professional, postgraduate-trained opera singers can have on young minds.
Luckily, we don’t have to imagine, because we get to see the beautiful thank-you cards from these students and their teachers every year. And we’ll tell you: this program isn’t a money maker for us. We go out on the road in -30 degree weather every February because for some of these kids, it’s the only professional live performance they’ll ever see. And it changes what they believe the world can be.
Still not sure what Calgary Opera does… for Calgary?
United Active Living, Master Classes and ProArts Free Concerts
Our Emerging Artists sing professional concerts in United Active Living communities and for the free downtown ProArts series, because we believe in giving all community members open access to professional performing arts.
Three times a year, we open our home in the Mamdani Opera Centre to the community for free access to Master Classes with some of Canada’s most esteemed vocal coaches. It’s an invaluable chance to learn from the best, so we don’t put a price tag on that opportunity, either.
Let’s Create an Opera
Schools have lost arts funding. This isn’t a secret. And we know that art is crucial in cognitive development—that it teaches us how to solve problems, empathize with others and express ourselves.
Calgary Opera chooses 3 Calgary schools from a pool of applicants each year to participate in the Let’s Create an Opera program. We bring a writer, composer and director into each of these schools to create an opera… with the students. They are involved in the writing, music and production details, and then they perform their creation for their families and communities. It’s incredible what can come from a group of young people with stories to tell.
Calgary Opera’s Allegro Group is a community for people 35 and under. We have a vision of a Calgary that knows the value of the arts because it’s been grown into our lives. Allegro members get really good seats, they have private receptions, they make new friends, and they do it for less than $100 every season.
Every time the Allegro Group gets together at the Opera, other patrons stop by to ask us, “What’s Allegro?” We tell them exactly what it is: it’s our way of bringing young Calgarians together to experience opera for an affordable price, to get to know each other, and to fall in love with art in our community.
At the 2019 Allegro Group for La Bohème, one older patron laughed, “‘Come to the Opera,’ I said to my son. He said, ‘There won’t be anyone like me there.’ And look at this. Look at all these young people. I love it.”