La Bohème at the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts

If you’ve been interested in the opera but don’t know where to the start, the Burnaby Lyric Opera and Shadbolt Centre for the Arts have the production for you – La Bohème, by Giacomo Puccini.

La Boheme
La Boheme

La Bohème is a beloved classic and one of the brightest stars in Giacomo Puccini’s repertoire. This musical masterpiece is a timeless tale of love, loss, deception and heart-break, with glorious music as only Puccini could write. It stands the test of time as one of the most popular operas ever performed and comes to life again with Burnaby Lyric Opera’s production team and the best of B.C.’s operatic talent.

The story of La Bohème centers around a poor seamstress, Mimi, and her poet lover, Rodolfo. They live in a dank Parisian garret amid a group of bohemian friends which include Marcello, a painter, and his lover, Musetta. There is constant flirtatious behavior and jealousy amid an underlying atmosphere of foreboding, culminating in Mimi’s death. This is a must see performance at the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts.

Burnaby Lyric Opera brings BC’s top young professional opera singers to the stage, giving you the rare opportunity to say you saw them here first and the talented individuals in La Bohème are no exception. The ensemble features Chloé Hurst, Kwangmin Brian Lee, Jason Cook, Gwendolyn Yearwood, Brandon Thornhill, Peter Monaghan, Stage Director Richard Berg and Music Director Angus Kellett round out the team.

Burnaby Lyric Opera is an Intermediate professional opera company presenting BC’s up and coming young opera singers in leading roles. BLO is the “jumping-off point” for young opera singers in BC on their way to the major opera houses of the world and this is your chance to see the next generation of great opera singers in action.

Burnaby Lyric Opera’s production team and the best of BC’s young opera singers bring this “must see” opera to life. Don’t miss it.

La Bohème is on at the Shadbolt Centre at 8pm on February 20, 25, and 27th as well as afternoon performances at 2pm on February 22nd and 24th.

For more information and tickets to La Bohème visit the Shadbolt Centre’s website.

DragonDiva Operatic Theatre Returning to the Evergreen

As you may remember, a couple of weeks ago I attended the Carli and Julie Kennedy concert at the Evergreen Cultural Centre. We have also attended other performances such as Driving Miss Daisy and Boeing, Boeing at the Evergreen.

We love the Evergreen Cultural Centre because it brings “big city-like” performances out of the city to the ‘burbs for all of us who want to see great performances but do not want to be bothered with driving into Vancouver and engaging in the sometimes-contact sport of finding a parking spot.

So, it is pretty exciting to see DragonDiva Operatic Theatre returning to the Evergreen for an all-new Opera at the Lake presentation.

Dargon Diva Opera
Dargon Diva Opera

The Marriage of Figaro will be set as if it were one of the Arabian Nights’ 1001 Tales. Make that 1002. The tale follows a single day of madness – the very day that Figaro and Susanna are to be married in “Silvassa”, a small town in India.  Quick-paced and fun, The Marriage of Figaro will charm opera aficionados and newcomers alike.

Sung in Italian with English surtitles. And perhaps the best part for a foodie like me, all tickets ($25 each) include complimentary coffee and dessert.

The DragonDiva performances will be on the Evergreen stage August 22 and 23 at 8pm with a matinee performance on August 24th at 2pm. You can visit the Evergreen Cultural Centre’s website to purchase tickets.

 

Candide at the Evergreen Cultural Centre

Seeing as I sailed out of the port of Vancouver on a tramp steamer on Friday, August 23rd, I was unable to attend the Evergreen Cultural Centre’s performance of Candide. In my place, Rae Ross, art and theatre aficionado, attended. The following are her thoughts and observations of Candide, the operetta. 

Candide
Candide

I must begin my guest review by thanking Stacey for presenting me with this fantastic opportunity to partake in observing a local theatre performance.

I had no prior knowledge of the content guiding the operetta “Candide”, nor had I attended an operatic performance preceding Friday night’s production. As a result, I had little to go on, other than the fact that the act is an adaptation of Voltaire’s work, written by “West Side Story” composer, Leonard Bernstein.

Aesthetically, the Evergreen Cultural Centre is beautifully constructed. This Coquitlam venue makes for a pleasant local experience; in many ways more rewarding than travelling into Downtown Vancouver for an arts performance. The theatre itself boasts a lovely, intimate setting, and the seating is undeniably comfortable (I can safely proclaim my adoration for the seating, as I am an individual who tends to shift frequently during performances, but did little of this during the course of the evening).

As for the operetta, “Candide” was sensational! The casting was fantastically assembled. The script, though lengthy, was extremely humorous; my attention did not wane once. It should be noted that Robin Eder-Warren’s “Cunegonde”, a central figure throughout, is a talent beyond words. On many occasions, listening to her voice made the hair on my arms stand on end. The remainder of the cast is an exceptional group of artists. Mark Pepe, otherwise known as “Maximilian” and “Issachar” provided magnificent stage presence, and courageously portrayed both his male and female characters with unabashed comedic representation. I admire the performers for additionally taking on the duty of changing set arrangements to perfection.

A short intermission provided passage between Act One and Act Two. As I mentioned earlier, the entire performance was lengthy, running from just after 8:00pm-10:45pm. Was “Candide” worth the wait? Absolutely! Though many of the themes are rather “saucy”; highlighting bawdy interactions, and even murder, the operetta attracted a diverse audience, including children.

Following the performance, a delicious assortment of desserts were provided for audience members. This gave me opportunity to discuss the goings on of the evening with my friend as we indulged in sinfully exquisite confections.

Bottom line, is “Candide” something I would recommend? Without a doubt. It was a fantastic show, put on by Dragondiva Operatic Theatre, and they are to be commended for an incredible theatre-going experience. What a magnificent example of local opera theatre performance.

Hopefully when the Dragondiva Operatic Theatre Company and Evergreen Cultural Centre put on their next performance I will be in town and available to attend. Thanks to Rae Ross for attending this theatre performance and writing such a fine description of the evening. Stacey.

Candide to be Presented at Evergreen Cultural Centre

Robin Eder-Warren as Cunegonde in Candide Photo by Kathryn Nickford
Robin Eder-Warren as Cunegonde in Candide Photo by Kathryn Nickford

Candide was first published in France in 1759 to great acclaim and scandal. The novel tells the story of Candide, a naïve optimist who believes that the world he lives in is the “best possible world”. When Candide falls in love with Cunegonde, the daughter of a baron, he is banished and embarks on an epic journey that takes him across Europe and to Eldorado, the city of gold. Countless hardships challenge Candide’s unwavering faith in optimism in a perfect recipe for disillusionment.

The operetta was composed by Leonard Bernstein (West Side Story) and premiered on Broadway in 1956, with rewritten revivals in 1974 and 1997. It has been nominated for 17 Tony Awards across the three Broadway productions, and won Best Book of a Musical for the 1974 revival.

“John Arsenault, our Board President and Music Director, has been suggesting [Candide] for years, and we now felt ready to take on such a significant work … It’s about people who live life to a flawed ideal that brings them to their lowest point; they dig themselves out of it, eventually realizing that what they have in this imperfect world is each other. The show is generally a bit ridiculous and over the top, but includes beautiful serious moments and a genuine message. Our production follows these same lines, with imaginative costumes, and some hilariously outrageous staging, but also really touching moments of heartbreak, betrayal, and tenderness.”

Candide plays in the Studio Theatre on Friday, August 23 and Saturday, August 24 at 8pm and Sunday, August 25 at 2pm.Tickets are $25 and include complimentary coffee, tea and dessert in Evergreen’s lobby after the show.

You can buy tickets by calling 604-927-6555 or you can get them by going online at www.evergreenculturalcentre.ca.

Rent the Musical at the Evergreen Cultural Centre

Last night I attended my first ever performance of the musical Rent. The performance I saw was at the Evergreen Cultural Centre in Coquitlam. I have to begin by saying that this was not a Broadway level of performance, nor was I expecting it to be. However, it was an incredible community theatre performance that was full of passion, energy and a first class demonstration of the cast and crews love for the story of Rent. Fabulous, simply fabulous.

Evergreen Cultural Centre
Evergreen Cultural Centre

Before describing the performance though, the theatre, which is inside the Evergreen Cultural Centre, is in its own right quite spectacular. The lobby of the theatre opens onto a grassy slope that runs down to Lafarge Lake; a pretty cool setting for a theatre.

Upon entering the Evergreen I was pleasantly surprised to see a youthful crowd. All too often live theatre performance audiences are filled with the blue hair crowd. Not last night. There was loads of excitement in the house. It was a real treat to see such energy in a theatre.

The Stage Set for Rent
The Stage Set for Rent

And now to the performance. It was obvious from the opening scene that this cast loves the story of Rent. Their enthusiasm and energy were inspiring. Rent is a modern day adaptation (a rock opera) of Puccini’s opera, La Boheme. I have seen La Boheme performed at the Queen E Theatre and I have to admit that last night’s performance was far more emotionally draining for me than La Boheme ever was. Perhaps it is because the characters in Rent are living and dying in the shadow of  HIV/AIDS instead of the catchall disease of “consumption” that adds to its power.

Watching the trials and tribulations of the young bohemians in Rent carried me back to the heady days of my youth. The struggles to pay the rent and have enough money to share a beer or two with my fellow bohemians…ahh…the good old days. The cast of Rent sang their songs of love and despair and struggle with heartfelt conviction. They were not always in tune or on key but for what they lacked in skill they made up for with their conviction to the program.

Of course the other factor that must be considered is that virtually the entire cast and crew is composed of 15 to 22 year old volunteers. These are youth who do this because they love theatre. I applaud them for their conviction. To see this incredibly youthful group tackle the issues of poverty and homelessness, HIV/AIDS and death, drugs and addiction, artistic merit and seeing your loved ones “selling out”…such powerful issues for such a youthful cast.

If you have the opportunity, get yourself down to the Evergreen Cultural Centre and see Theatrix’s performance of Rent. This performance is only on stage until July 25th so you really do need to act if you want to take in this performance. This is a fabulous performance. Fabulous. 

Disclaimer; My ticket to Rent was sponsored very generously by Theatrix Youtheatre Society. I am not obligated nor expected to write this review entry, but I certainly feel that my readers would benefit from attending this play because it is an excellent performance. In any review I write or publish on my site, I retain editorial control at all times. Should you have any questions or concerns, contact me at editor@theleftcoast.ca