Arts | Arts, Heritage, Music
Community Connections | Aging Population, Citizen Engagement, Children And Youth, Immigrant Newcomers

Calgary Opera

The Canadian leader in commissioning, creating and producing new operas, we're proud to represent Calgary on the national stage.

Opera is big, and it takes a lot of people—around 175 just to bring one opera to life on the Jubilee Auditorium stage! We reach over 30,000 community members through our productions each season, including Main Stage productions, chamber operas and our province-wide School Tour. Our 8 Emerging Artists perform for free all over the city. Three schools and hundreds of students build their own operas through Calgary Opera education programs each year. We're a proud part of Calgary's vibrant arts ecosystem, keeping our city inspired, expressive and connected.

Our Story

Why We Exist

When people think of opera, they rarely consider the impact a company like ours has on the community around it. Opera is full of possibility—it’s beauty, love, loss, pain, connection and ecstasy. It’s a manifestation of the range of emotions in the human experience—a powerful reminder of the intensity of life. And the logistical reality is that opera takes a lot of dedicated, passionate, generous people to make.

Calgary Opera has been producing professional grand opera in Calgary since 1972. Over almost 50 years, we’ve established ourselves as invaluable to the Canadian arts ecology—Calgary Opera is the birthplace and incubator of new opera in this country. Since 2003, we’ve created and produced 7 new operas and multiple Canadian premieres, with another new work underway. (If you need a bit of context, the Canadian Opera Company in Toronto has presented 2 world premieres in the same amount of time.)

Our Impact

What We Do

We can only have the impact we have on the world of opera because Calgary is full of incredible artists and community members who want to support creativity and connection. Calgary Opera hires over 300 artists from our community every year. Picture that for a moment.

Three hundred. That’s a lot of artists.

We bring 8 of North America’s most undeniably talented trained young singers to Calgary, to live and perform here, every year. Only three other companies in Canada offer this kind of opportunity, and the only other western Canadian company with a young artist program hires a fraction of the emerging singers that we do. (It’s Vancouver Opera, and they take on up to 6 young artists each season.)

We have a young, female Resident Conductor & Répétiteur. She’s one of Canada’s leading young répétiteurs, and she lives and works right here, in Calgary.

We work with Alberta Ballet, the Old Trouts, Calgary Youth Orchestra, Cantare Children’s Choir, Honens, Banff Centre, Calgary Film… the list goes on… and, of course, the incomparable Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra. It would be a real challenge to find a theatre or musical artist in Calgary who doesn’t have some degree of connection to Calgary Opera. For some artists, stage managers and tech specialists, we’re their primary contract for the year.

We keep artists in Calgary, because we help them make the living they need to keep exploring their craft.

 

…and all of that doesn’t even begin to take into account the impact we have on our audience.

Our Programs

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.

Allegro Group

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.”

Our Requests

What You Can Do

Our building needs help…

The Mamdani Opera Centre is our home. In addition to our mainstage productions at the Jubilee, we produce at least 9 performances each season at the Mamdani Opera Centre, in the building of the old Wesley Church on the corner of 7th St. and 14th Ave. SW in the Beltline.

We’re a community facility: the list of other non-profit groups that use our space is long and spans everything from professional choirs to indie theatre companies to Pride celebrations.

But our building is run-down, and we’re having trouble keeping it accessible for everyone.

Right now, we need to do two simple things: paint and replace our carpet. Our paint and carpet were expected to last 5 years. It’s been 13.

If you can help us match a grant and give our space the upgrades it needs to continue hosting the community, we’d love to hear from you.

And we couldn’t do what we do without you.

Aside from our immediate surroundings, the biggest barrier facing Calgary Opera is the reality that each donation matters. If we covered our costs with ticket sales, ticket prices would begin at $300 each.

Find out more about donation, sponsorship and other ways to invest in Calgary Opera at https://calgaryopera.com/donate and https://calgaryopera.com/sponsor.

We’re looking forward to talking with you about ways you can support us, and how we can keep working for our community as your Calgary Opera.

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Contact

Dani Spady

Development Officer

(403) 262-7286

Charitable Number: 11882 3830 RR 0001

Visit Our Website

Annual Operating Budget:

5.2M