Monday, May 31, 2010

Overwhelmed By A Butterfly

Wonderful. Beautiful. Magnificent. Overwhelming. Loved it. To be told these words over and over again leaves no doubt that we knocked it out of the park with Madama Butterfly.

I thought it was wonderful. Absolutely wonderful.

Very entertaining. Very beautiful to look at.

Fabulous. May be the best opera we have seen and we've seen many good operas in Vancouver.

I don't even know where to begin. The emotions that it has brought out in me is just overwhelming.

Absolutely loved it. I think it's a wonderful production.

The set was magnificent. I struggled with it at first because it was so non-traditional, but it totally won me over.

Really, really great interesting set. Modern, very colourful, very eye-popping. It makes thematic sense as well. Towards the end, you really got the idea of a woman absolutely and emotionally abandoned, lost on a little rock in the middle of an ocean. So it works very, very well for that.

I loved the costumes. I thought they were fantastic. The whole stage was beautiful.

The orchestra was really terrific.

Very original. Unbelievable. This was just a one-of-a-kind piece of art on the stage.

It was extremely well done visually. The music was impeccable.

It was wonderful. I had tears.

This is the opera of the season. It was the most beautiful production I've ever seen.

Press play to hear what everyone had to say. Or double-click the video to see it directly on VO's Youtube channel.

Video by Bombshelter Productions & Mike McKinlay

Get your tickets now! Only 5 performances left! (and next Saturday is already sold out!) Call 604.683.0222 to speak to our box office or order online!

See you down at the theatre!

~ Ling Chan

Madama Butterfly: Final Thoughts

From left: Gus Fosarolli, John Biehler, Stacey Robinsmith, Kelsey Dundon

A HUGE thank you to all our bloggers who have joined us this past year in celebrating our Golden Anniversary season! What a way to go out! Madama Butterfly made an impact on everybody at opening night, including our bloggers. It may well be the first Blogger Night at the Opera where our opera left our bloggers all misty-eyed.

But don't take our word for it...

What a way to end the season. Vancouver Opera’s take on Puccini’s classic Madama Butterfly is beautiful and brilliant, not to mention, brightly coloured. - Kelsey Dundon

Mihoko Kinoshita’s portrayal of Madama Butterfly was amazing. Singing some of the classics that I’ve heard before were sung with passion and the chemistry between her and James were amazing. You can see the love she has for the naval officer and though the first Act is filled with flirting between the two, you wonder what would happen if their relationship did work out in the end. - Gus Fosarolli

One final thing that still surprises me that happens during the final bows at the end of both Opera’s I’ve attended is the extended ovation that gradually builds as the performers come out. For Butterfly, it went on for a long time and it was cool to see the passion the audience had for these performers. It’s not often you see an older gentleman hoot and holler while wearing a tux. - John Biehler

I have seen Madama Butterfly before but this time…the tears were streaming down my face. The ending of this opera was made all the more poignant due to the fact that at home are our two precious little angels. I cannot imagine being forced to relinquish my sweet little ones…the agony I felt as I sat there watching a woman’s child being stolen away…unbelievable. If you have not yet bought your ticket to this opera, do so as soon as you can. So exquisite. - Stacey Robinsmith

Thank you bloggers for helping to make Blogger Night at the Opera such a success. We look forward to seeing you all at the opera next season!

~ Ling Chan

Friday, May 28, 2010

Madama Butterfly: The Trailer

Here's your peek at the visually stunning Madama Butterfly, conceived and designed by visual artist Jun Kaneko and directed by Leslie Swackhamer.

Press play or double-click the video to see it directly on VO's Youtube channel.

Video by Bombshelter Productions & Mike McKinley

Tickets going fast! Both Saturdays are already sold out!

Get yours today! Call 604.683.0222 or purchase online!

~ Ling Chan

Madama Butterfly: The Book

When you're at Madama Butterfly, stop by the subscribers table in the main lobby to check out Jun Kaneko's book, Madama Butterfly.

This 125 paged souvenir book documents the story of how artist Jun Kaneko collaborated with Opera Omaha to design a contemporary look to the traditional opera. The book is filled with sketches and pictures of the whole creation process, along with a great backgrounder on Puccini, the Madama Butterfly opera and Japan in the early 1900s.

To order your copy, call 402-341-3800 (USA) or e-mail and mention Vancouver Opera. All proceeds from book sales go to benefit Vancouver Opera & KANEKO. For more information on Jun Kaneko, visit his website here.

An awesome keepsake of a visually stunning opera that you won't soon forget.

~ Ling Chan

8 Reasons To Go To Vancouver Opera

We love it when we take someone's who never been to an opera before and convert them into an opera enthusiast, as well as a friend to the VO.

Ami Sanyal, one of bloggers from our very first Blogger Night at the Opera, posted a notice to all his Facebook friends on why they should go to the opera. We were so touched when we found out, that I have reposted it here with Ami's kind permission.

Cec and I have been going to the Vancouver Opera's productions since Jan 09. With Madama Butterfly coming up, we thought it would be a good time to share why!

How we Discovered the Vancouver Opera

Truth is, the Vancouver Opera came to us! In Jan 09 I was a contributor for a Vancouver blog called Beyond Robson. Ling Chan (VO's Social Media Manager) approached Beyond Robson inviting us to partake in their first
'Bloggers Night Out'. At the time, the opera conjured faint images of snooty elderly folk peering through bejeweled mini-binoculars...but the fact that VO was interested in social media scene intrigued me enough to accept Ling's invitation.

See more about the production on
my post on Beyond Robson.

The show was Carmen, and from production quality to staff dedication, Cecily and I were really, really impressed!

Photo credit: Tim Matheson

8 Reasons We Keep Going to the Opera

Ami's Reasons

1. Something different! Grabbing a drink and heading off to a VO production guarantees a unique night out

2. It's affordable! Tickets start at $23...which is cheaper than most concert tickets

3. Great stories. Most of these productions have wicked plot lines! (I'm not sure why this surprises me every time)

4. Foreign factor. When I walk down the street I like it when I hear other languages. Having them sung to you by an opera singer while an orchestra provides instrumentals is even better. (Read the screen for English translations)

Cecily's Reasons

1. Men in Tights. 'nuff said.

2. Dress up. Get some use out that dress that you wore to a wedding that one time (Note: dressing up is you can show up in jeans if you like)

3. Support the local arts scene. Figaro boasted an all-Canadian cast

4. The music! Awesomely talented vocals and amazing instrumentals from the pit (a great motivation to pick up my trumpet again).

We really like the Vancouver Opera's productions and staff members. Go check them out, you might like 'em too!

Awwwww. This makes our Friday! Thanks Ami and Cecily for the kind words and for supporting Vancouver Opera!

~ Ling Chan

Say Cheese!

Photo credit: William C. Shrout

Your opportunity to make funny, squishy faces (or not) is back!

A hit with our Figaro audiences, we're bringing back the SMART Pics photo booth for Madama Butterfly's opening night and June 3 performance. Click here to see all the peeps who took advantage of flashing their pearly whites at Figaro.

Take a picture of yourself. Take a photo with your date. Grab some random peeps in the lobby for one gigantic group shot. (just watch out for those photobombers!)

The best part? (besides the "love it" or "try again" option) You can email it to yourself or you can send it to someone else and let them know what they're missing out on!

The SMART Pics photo booth will be situated by the east end lobby staircase and bloggers table, just waiting for your smiles and poses.

A great souvenir for attending the last opera of the year. And a thank you from us for helping to celebrate our Golden Anniversary season.

~ Ling Chan

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Float Like A Butterfly, Sting Like A Ninja

Illustration credit: Jeremy Forson

There are many skills one needs in order to be an Opera Ninja:

* "Stealth" being their middle name. With great reflexes and sharp night vision, Opera Ninjas are able to move quickly and silently about the theatre.

* Must always be calm, focused and observant. They must keep an eye on what's happening onstage as well as, know what's going on in the very darkest corner of the room.

* Must know how to get out of a sticky situation quickly (vanishing bombs and firecrackers are sometimes used for distraction)

* Being an Opera Ninja means knowing how to debug and troubleshoot pesky technology

* And above all, Opera Ninjas must have a really cool ninja outfit

An Opera Ninja who is successful at gaining entry, gathering as much intel as possible and retreating undetected will, of course, be sent out on more assignments.

That is why Ninja Girl Kimli has been assigned to the Madama Butterfly dress rehearsal. She did such an awesome job live-tweeting The Marriage of Figaro, that she'll bring the stealth again for tomorrow night's Butterfly. Follow along on @OperaNinja for all the action.

We have no doubt she'll once again kill it.

~ Ling Chan

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Blogging The Butterfly

Love. Honour. Betrayal.

Just another day at Blogger Night at the Opera!

Come say hi on opening night (Saturday, May 29) as our Madama Butterfly bloggers take on the ever-so-tragic tale of Butterfly and her Pinkerton. With a breath-taking set, heart-breakingly beautiful music and emotional arias, our bet is that our bloggers will get a little wet in the eyes.

Clockwise from top left: Kelsey Dundon, Gus Fosarolli, Stacey Robinsmith, John Biehler

Follow along on the right sidebar as our bloggers report from the front lines, as well as, behind the scenes of Madama Butterfly. Hankies not included.

~ Ling Chan

Friday, May 14, 2010

Madama Butterfly: Cast Interviews

Video by Bombshelter Productions & Mike McKinlay

I love singing the music of Puccini...It has all these gorgeous soaring melodies and it's a privilege to sing it. The orchestrations, the much of it is just amazing. - James Valenti

Jun Kaneko did a comprehensive design of the show. He designed the set and the costumes and also projections...There are all kinds of interesting things that happen through his art. - Leslie Swackhamer

I think people should come see Madama Butterfly, especially if they're a first-timer because it's a really good introduction opera. Its very accessible: beautiful music, great characters. It's a gorgeous production and a great cast. - James Valenti

Don't miss out! To get your tickets, call 604.683.0222 or click here!

~ Ling Chan

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Touch Of The Butterfly

I told you I would return
When the robin makes his nest
But I ain't never coming back
I'm sorry...
- Weezer

These are the closing lyrics for Weezer's Butterfly, a song overtly inspired by Puccini's opera, Madama Butterfly. The song is written from the viewpoint of naval officer B.F. Pinkerton, who chases his fantasy of Butterfly but never intends to actually build a life with her.

The song is from the 1996 album Pinkerton, which was also based on Madama Butterfly. This album was a definite departure from Weezer's 1994 pop-driven self-titled debut, which featured the chart-topper Buddy Holly.

references Japan and Japanese culture from the perspective of an outsider. Singer/songwriter Rivers Cuomo even stated that the album tells of his struggle with his own inner Pinkerton.

Cuomo's love for Puccini is evident even beyond the Pinkerton songs:

* Puccini's lyrics "Everywhere in the world, the roving Yankee takes his pleasure and his profit, indifferent to all risks. He drops anchor at random..." are written on the edge of the CD.

* A map titled Isola della farfalla e penisola di cane (Island of the Butterfly and Peninsula of Dog), featuring a ship named USS Pinkerton, is found behind the album's CD tray.

* In some pressings, an image of what looks like a geisha can be found on the back of the CD jewel case.

The album was a commercial failure when released but endured to become a cult favourite. Pinkerton has since risen in stature and been re-reviewed by the likes of Rolling Stone, Spin Magazine, LA Times, NME and Pitchfork Media. It is now regarded as one of the most important albums of the 1990s. Rolling Stone even added the album to its Hall of Fame.

When Madama Butterfly was first performed in 1904, it was met with hostility. But over time and with some re-working, it went on to become another successful and well-loved Puccini opera.

Looks like Madama Butterfly and Pinkerton both took time to build momentum, but today we can't imagine what music would be like without these great works.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Cio-Cio Sans of All Cio-Cio Sans

Vancouver Opera is excited to introduce Mihoko Kinoshita to Vancouver audiences for her Canadian debut in Madama Butterfly. Touted by some as "the greatest Cio-Cio San", Kinoshita is an internationally renowned soprano, having sung in Europe, Japan and the US.

Everyone, but everyone is gushing about Kinoshita:

“…Kinoshita’s vocal accomplishment is absolute. …bound up in Kinoshita’s vocal prowess is her stage savvy. Her acting instincts elevate her singing to a devastating naturalism. We believe in this ingenuous Butterfly as surely as she believes in her marriage to the long-departed Lt. Pinkerton.” - The Detroit News

“…gaining strength and richness; dramatically on target, with a wealth of detail in the acting. Kinoshita left quite a vivid mark on the [Butterfly] role…” - Baltimore Sun

“Soprano's brilliant performance carries ‘Butterfly'” - Midland Daily News

Here's a taste to whet your curiosity.

(And yes, that IS James Valenti, who'll sing our Pinkerton, in the video.)

~ Ling Chan, Social Media Manager

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Madama Butterfly: The Manga

A love betrayed. Dishonoured and shunned. The ultimate sacrifice. Madama Butterfly IS one of opera's most tragic masterpieces.

Here's Madama Butterfly as seen through the eyes of artist Fiona Meng and editor Roy Husada.

For the supersize version, click here.

~ Ling Chan

Monday, May 10, 2010

Opera Speaks: Nagasaki 1900

Photo credit: Roddy Ouano

How often does one get to hear live koto music? Not nearly enough!

Well, you'll be in for a real treat tomorrow night at Opera Speaks!

We have all sorts of wonderful things lined up for you:

* Explore the fascinating history and culture of 1900's Nagasaki with Japanese historian Midge Ayukawa and UBC Professor of Anthropology Dr. Millie Creighton

* Listen to Madama Butterfly's Mihoko Kinoshita sing Un bel di.

Photo credit: Roddy Ouano

* Hear musician Kozue Matsumoto play the koto. (she's been playing since she was three years old!)

Admission is free. Seating is limited. Arrive early!

Tuesday May 11th @ 7pm
Central Branch of Vancouver Public Library, Alice MacKay Room
In Partnership with Vancouver Public Library.

~ Ling Chan

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Fare Thee Well Figaro

You made us smile. You made us laugh. You gave us the warm and fuzzy feelings. And Figaro was pretty good too!

The response was unanimous. Everybody had a wonderful time at The Marriage of Figaro. (for who doesn't love Mozart?)

As we say goodbye to Figaro and hello to Madama Butterfly, here's a look back at the past couple of weeks: all the fashions and all the behind-the-scenes photos for your enjoyment. We love to take your pictures and lucky for us, you love to have your pictures taken!

A big thanks to everybody who helped make Figaro a smashing success!

~ Ling Chan

Figaro Unplugged

Not only are the cast of The Marriage of Figaro talented, but they love giving back to the community as well!

This past Monday, Vancouver Opera paired up with Health Arts Society to bring some mid-morning singing to the fine folks at Youville Residence.

Health Arts Society (ArtsWay) has been organizing musical performances to over 100 BC long-term health care facilities since 2006.

With VO's repetiteur Kinza Tyrrell at the piano, the cast sang Figaro arias and duets for the 40 member audience.

In such an intimate setting, followed by a Q & A session at the end, it may have been more fun than seeing it down at the theatre!

~ Ling Chan

We Got Your Bag

Fashionistas knows that a girl can NEVER have too many handbags. So, on Monday, May 17, these gals are bringing "it" to Vancouver Opera's 2010 PURSEuasion Designer Bag Auction & Luncheon.

Up on the auction block are to-die-for handbags from designers such as:

* Chanel (Chanel Classic Handbag)
* Gucci (Icon Bit Bag)
* Prada (Velluto Jacquard Tote)
* Michael Kors (Hamilton Large Tote)
* Salvatore Ferragamo (Fiammetta)
* Miu Miu (Clutch)
* Max Mara (Glenda)
* Ports 1961 (Zaiwar Doctor Bag)
* Hugo Boss (Pleated Accordian Leather Bag)
* Cole Haan
* 3.1 Phillip Lim
* Boboli
* Leone

Girls can also score hand-baggy goodness from local designers such as:

* John Fluevog
* Ashley Watson
* Ora Bags
* Sienna Ray & Co.

5 pairs of awesome sunglasses from Bruce Eyewear will also be up for grabs in the silent auction and raffle.

Guests will dine on lunch created by Nathan Guggenheimer, the newly appointed Chef de Cuisine at db Bistro Moderne, while watching an elegant fashion show by Christopher Bates. It's going be a feast for the eyes and the palate!

CTV weather personality Tamara Taggart will be back, this time with Vancouver’s favourite man about town Fred Lee to MC the event.

The annual event raises funds for VO’s acclaimed education and community programs.

PURSEuasion 2010
Monday, May 17, 2010
db Bistro Moderne
2551 West Broadway
11:30am – 2:00pm
Tickets for this exclusive event are $250. (tax receipt for $125)

For tickets and further information, please contact Caroline Hay at 604-682-2871 ext.4850 or

~ Ling Chan

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

After The Curtain Falls...

The Countess ending up like a desperate housewife?

Count Almaviva bedding his way through Europe?

Susan and Figaro faking it?

Cherubino turning out to be the most adjusted of them all?

Click here to read Vancouver Sun's David Gordon Duke muse about the fates of The Marriage of Figaro characters.

~ Ling Chan