Friday, March 26, 2010

Watch Those Hands

Meet Ariel Barnes, the Principal Cellist in the Vancouver Opera Orchestra. Doing what he does best, he will be wowing audience and critics at the Jeunesses Musicales Ontario's Twilight Series concert on April 7 in Toronto.

Accompanied by Bryan Wagorn on piano, the musicians will be performing De Falla's Suite Popular Espanola, Bartok's Roumanian Folk Dances, Canadian composer's Milton Barnes's La Rosa Variations and Schumann's Fünf Stück im Volkston, Op. 102, A minor.

The Twilight Series has been successful in introducing classical and chamber music to newbies in a non-intimidating setting, or as they call it, a "casual smart" setting.

If you're in the Toronto area April 7, here are the deets:

Arts & Letter Club
14 Elm Street (northwest of Yonge & Dundas)
Cocktails 5pm | Concert 6pm
Tickets: $25 (includes taxes and one beverage)
Contact: 416 536 8649 or

For more information, click here.

~ Ling Chan

Monday, March 22, 2010

Putting Nixon In China To Bed

A warm thanks to everyone who came out to the Canadian premiere of Nixon in China!

VO has been overwhelmed by all the support and enthusiasm for our production of John Adams's contemporary opera. We're pleased to have brought it to Vancouver audiences and thrilled that everyone was open to giving modern opera a chance. Just wait to you see what we're cooking up for the world premiere of Lillian Alling!

Here at Vancouver Opera, we've been sleeping, breathing and living Nixon in China since the beginning of this year. It'll be hard to put this production behind us.

But we have photos and many nice comments to help us remember it all: the beautiful people (that means you!) who came out, and the hard work and talent it took to design a brand-spankin' new production (one that will make its way to other opera houses around the world). Remember, you saw it here first!

Fashion at the Opera

Behind the scenes

Behind the scenes

Behind the scenes

Eventually, all the catchy Nixon in China numbers that developed into earworms will be but fond memories.

A heartfelt thanks to everyone who helped make Nixon in China a success!

~ Ling Chan

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Fan Fun At Fan Night

Tomorrow is your chance to geek out at Fan Night!

Come check out the pre-show talk with Assistant Stage Director Stephen Drover. He'll be giving up the secrets to the staging of Nixon in China. 6:30pm in the VIP lounge!

During intermission, come back to the uber-exclusive VIP lounge for coffee and bite-sized desserts. VIP bathroom included.

And there will be SWAG.

So how do you get in on this? Easy! If you already have your tickets for the Thursday, March 18 performance, just email to be put on the exclusive Twitter/Facebok Fan Night guestlist.

But do it quick, because the guestlist is LIMITED.

Twitter/Facebook Fan Night sponsored by The Georgia Straight:

~ Ling Chan

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Paint The Town Red

Vancouver Opera's wardrobe department has got Pat Nixon's look down to a "T".

Referencing actual photos of the Nixons' visit to China in 1972, Parvin Mirhardy, Head of Costumes, and her staff re-created the exact wardrobe for Pat Nixon.

So why did Pat Nixon wear red for the most important and most photographed events?

For Chinese people, red is the colour of good luck. This bold colour is also associated with courage, loyalty, honor, success, fortune and happiness.

According to historian Carl Sferrazza Anthony, the visit to China was significant for Pat Nixon. It was her "moment" - the point at which she became an acclaimed First Lady for the United States.

When the world is watching, what better way to show off your power, potential and esteem than through the colour of your wardrobe?

~ Ling Chan

Are You On The List?

Fan Night is this Thursday! And we're going to treat you right!

Check out the pre-show talk, where Assistant Stage Director Stephen Drover will divulge the secrets of the Nixon in China set. 6:30pm in the VIP lounge!

During intermission, come back to the uber-exclusive VIP lounge for coffee and desserts. This is also a great opportunity to mingle with other Nixon in China fans. Oh, and did I mention the VIP lounge has its very own bathrooms?

We will also give you swag.

So how do you get in on this? Easy! If you already have your tickets for the Thursday, March 18 performance, just email to be put on the exclusive Twitter/Facebok Fan Night guestlist.

But do it quick, because the guestlist is LIMITED.

Twitter/Facebook Fan Night sponsored by The Georgia Straight:

~ Ling Chan

Monday, March 15, 2010

VO's Sweet Treat

We have a treat for all our renewing subscribers for the 2010-2011 season!

When you're at Nixon in China this week, pick up your free chocolates at the Subscribers Table in the QET lobby. These bars of chocolatey goodness, made by Daniel Le Chocolate Belge, can be picked up either pre-show and during the intermissions.

The perfect chocolate treat to indulge your sweet tooth!

~ Ling Chan

An Affair To Remember

Opening night of Nixon in China brought out some very special guests!

We had 2 Mayors, (one current, one past) 2 Ambassadors, 1 Senator and 1 Consul General in da house! Nixon in China was the place to be on Saturday!

From left: Jamie Bruce, Arlene Gladstone, Amy Robertson, Mayor Gregor Robertson, Yulanda Faris

From left: Bruce Wright, Raymond Protti, Ambassador John Negroponte, Sheila Protti

Maestro DeMain and San Francisco Opera's General Director David Gockley

Director of Artistic Planning Tom Wright and Maestro DeMain

Although Vancouver Opera's Music Director, Maestro Jonathan Darlington wasn't able to attend, his presence was certainly felt.

(in case you're wondering, "toi, toi, toi" is an expression of good luck for classical singers)

Toi, toi, toi indeed! Nixon in China's opening night turned out to be wildly successful and definitely, one for the books!

~ Ling Chan

So What Did YOU Think Of Nixon In China?

Fabulous. Electrifying and unbelievable. Fantastic. Authentic.

These are some of the adjectives our audience used to describe their experiences at Nixon in China. But that's not all. You really let us have it and you didn't hold back.

The staging was absolutely wonderful.

Incredible theatrically, vocally, everything. It was just amazing.

The orchestra was incredible with all the different changes.

The combination of ballet, of movement within the opera, I thought that was really quite intriguing and very well done.

Great to see the singers characterize the roles. I really saw Richard Nixon!

The lighting really did a wonderful job of high-lighting all of the sets, especially the rain effect. That was awesome.

The sets and costume are incredible.

It's nice to see Vancouver doing something alittle different. Innovative and modern. I highly recommend it.

I hope that Vancouver Opera will do some more pieces like this.

Video by Bombshelter Productions

And to quote one of our audience members, "Everybody's got to experience some modern opera."

Get your tickets now! Only 3 performances left! Call 604-683-0222 to speak to our box office.

See you down at the theatre!

~ Ling Chan

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Bloggers Take On The President & The Chairman

Meet our Nixon in China Bloggers!

Our bloggers will be joining us on opening night Saturday, March 13 to blog about all the glitz, glamour and fantastic singing at the Canadian premiere of Nixon in China.

There's no need to be shy or cyber-stalker-ish. Just stop by and say hi to our friendly bloggers in the main lobby of the QET. Heck, you may even be inclined to buy 'em a drink! We'll also be posting their thoughts along the sidebar to the right here.

Clockwise from top left: Darren Barefoot, Tris Hussey, Raul Pacheco, Emme Rogers and Gus Fosarolli

So come along for the ride as they take our behind-the-scenes tour and stay on for the Nixon in China after-party. It's going to be one doozy of a night!

~ Ling Chan

Nixon in China: The Trailer

Your first look at Vancouver Opera's Nixon in China:

Video by Bombshelter Productions & Mike McKinley

Multimedia projections, a live on-stage camera crew, singing and dancing! This is modern opera at its grandest!

Tickets going fast! Call 604.683.0222 to get yours today!

~ Ling Chan

Friday, March 12, 2010

Somebody's Watching You

It's all about the eyes.

Nixon in China is watching you. From the pillars, to the backdrop, to the portraits and the scrim, there will be a profusion of faces staring out into the audience nightly.

You're being watched. Look your best.

Here are some pictures from dress rehearsal last night:

~ Ling Chan

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Vancouver Opera's Ninja Girl is Back!

A superpower nation. A sleeping giant. What happens when 2 world leaders meet and all niceties fall to the wayside?

Drunken debauchery? Gunshots fired? The two Mrs. pitted against each other? Some very R-rated language sung by one of the characters?

What's truth? What's rumour? In politics, anything can happen.

Follow Ninja Girl on Twitter: Opera Ninja or on the right hand side bar of the blog for all the fly-on-the-wall action.

Tonight starting at 6pm.

~ Ling Chan

Behind the Scenes: Nixon in China


Got your attention?

Here's your first look at the backdrops, props and costumes you'll see in Nixon in China!

More wows, more surprises, more photos to come.

~ Ling Chan

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

And The Winner Is....

Folks, we have ourselves a winner!

"I was opposed to China" was the magic phrase to the Where's Nixon? contest and 59 of you responded on our Twitter or Facebook page.

So without further ado....

Click play for the winner of our random draw:

Congratulations to the winner! Please email for your prize!

Thanks to everyone for playing!

~ Ling Chan

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Nixon In The City

Ever wonder what the schedule of a busy man like Richard Nixon looks like?

With only days to go before the Canadian premiere of Nixon in China, he continues to take Vancouver by storm! Word must be getting out about his public appearances because there were nothing but victory signs and shouts of "It's Tricky Dick!" as Nixon made his rounds.

Here's how Nixon's day went:

Reading the morning paper

Hanging out at Robson Square post-Olympics style. Too bad the zipline wasn't open. I would've been down with that.

Window shopping, taking in some art, checking out the library

Remembering to stop and smell the roses

I'm a little bit country, you're a little bit rock n' roll

Checking out HMV and what do I find? My movie and CD!

And my poster!

An unexpected surprise! Someone at HMV had recommended me! Note to secretary: hire Will at once.

Wrap up meeting with General Director of Vancouver Opera, James W. Wright

Nixon will make an appearance at the Vancouver Opera offices tomorrow to draw the winner of the 'Where's Nixon?' contest. Make sure you've entered by 1:00pm Wednesday for your chance to win 2 tickets to Nixon in China and $150 gift certificate to Chambar Restaurant.

For more pictures of Nixon in the city, click here.

~ Ling Chan

Painting Nixon in China

Feast your peepers on these snaps!

Here's a couple more pictures that were taken during the construction of the Nixon in China set.

Scroll painting

Set painting

Photos courtesy of Blankenship Company

Looks like fun, doesn't it?

~ Ling Chan

Monday, March 8, 2010

Nixon in China: The Look

It's normal practice for Vancouver Opera to rent costumes for our productions.

But not for Nixon in China!

For the Canadian premiere of Nixon in China, Parvin Mirhady and her talented staff in the wardrobe department created the look you will see on stage.

Illustration by Parvin Mirhady

All the outfits were designed specifically for our production and are exact replicas of the original outfits worn during the 1972 visit. Parvin even scoured the local vintage stores to find the appropriate accessories.

Sally Dibblee who plays Pat Nixon will be outfitted in 3 dresses, as well as 3 different strands of pearl necklaces.

There will be 26 supernumeraries who will don on the heavy wool coats, hats, belts and pouches for the Red Army look. Luckily, this "outdoor" look will only be worn at the beginning of the first act. Our supers won't completely melt under the hot stage lights.

The 8 professional dancers in The Ballet of the Regiment scene will wearing shorts, short sleeved shirts and caps. All the better to leap and twirl around in.

Speaking of dancing, Kissinger will also have his own outfit in the ballet scene.

True to the time period of Mao's China, all the Chinese characters in the opera wear the same outfit. Whether you are Mao, Madame Mao or Chou En-lai or a regular citizen, the cut is exactly the same, although the colours may vary.

It's interesting to note that Mao wore only the dark gray outfit, while his more public right hand man Chou En-lai went between light gray and blue during Nixon's visit.

They say clothes make the (wo)man and in every form of entertainment, this couldn't be more true. Wardrobe is just as important in opera as the singing and the way the stage is set. Everything must come together to convey a sense of time and place, so that the audience can immerse themselves in the feeling of authenticity.

So props to the wardrobe department for working so hard on getting the look just right!

To check out more Nixon in China costumes and detailing, click play on the slideshow or click here for our Flickr.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Some Art With Your Sushi?

Ever been to The Eatery in Kitsilano?

Not only is The Eatery a young, hip sushi restaurant, they also have pop-art inspired pictures on their walls.

Chairman Mao is in good company, hung on the walls alongside Jackie O., Judy Garland, Grace Jones and Debby Harry.

All the better to go with the fab selection of Japanese food and live music spun by an in-house dj.

Next time you're craving sushi and don't mind a rambunctious (aka loud) atmosphere, head to the Eatery for your fix of food and art. You may even want to request a table right under the watchful eye of the Chairman.

~ Ling Chan

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Cat's Out of the Bag

Here's our man of the hour, Richard Nixon, walking around the streets of downtown Vancouver the other day.

Everywhere he goes, he's sure to draw attention! Even getting noticed from people up in their high-rise apartments.

Nixon waving to fans above

Nixon stopping for a photo-op

The itinerary of the day was to head to CBC Studios to shake hands with fans. However, a CBC reporter got wind of his appearance and was on the scene when Nixon arrived. Gracious and of course, lapping up the publicity, Nixon spoke with the reporter on why he was in Vancouver:

"El presidente" has spilled the beans! (and his handlers were shocked)

To offer a level playing field for fans that could not come out to meet him because of a little thing called "work", Nixon disclosed his secret reply to being told "News Has a Kind of Mystery"!

Yes, Nixon fans, if you tweet "I was opposed to China" to VO's Twitter or comment on VO's Facebook, you will be entered in a draw for 2 tickets to Nixon in China and $150 gift certificate to Chambar Restaurant.

Nixon has broken protocol just for you!

Tweet and comment away! The winner will be drawn on Wednesday, March 10.

~ Ling Chan

Edel Rodriguez Work in S.I. Advertising Show

Congratulations to our Golden Anniversary season artist Edel Rodriguez for being honoured at The Society of Illustrators Awards Presentation and Gala last night in New York!

Here are the five amazing pieces that were picked for the best advertising art of the year:

Clockwise from top left: Dellas Graphics calendar artwork, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 25th anniversary concert artwork, Nixon in China and Madama Butterfly

Vancouver Opera snowboards

Such wonderful recognition! Couldn't happen to a more talented artist!

Congrats from everyone at the VO!

~ Ling Chan