Photo Credit:  Bard on the Beach


Operas and Arias
Returns to Bard on the Beach

My Review of Operas and Arias 

I remember the first time I realized that I liked opera music. It was way back when I was in my 30’s (not naming the year and don’t even bother trying to ask my friends because then I’ll have to kill them – lol) when I watched the movie Perfectly Normal where a Canadian hockey player dresses in drag so he can sing opera in an Italian restaurant. When he sang Nessun Dorma from Turandot in his sopranic voice, it was so hauntingly beautiful that it touched my soul profoundly in ways that no other genre of music had ever managed to.

And over the years I’ve watched the odd opera, often nodding off as the foreign languages eluded me because at that time, I didn’t realize that for some of us whose heads were used to bobbing to the beat of Saturday Night Fever, that the appreciation of opera music is much like growing a bonsai tree which takes many years to cultivate. But as you age and the disco ball eventually shatters and falls to the floor, that’s apparently when you start to appreciate real music and then each riveting note sang by talented opera singer holds you completely spellbound.

And at the Operas and Arias concert presented by Bard on the Beach which featured the young rising opera stars from the UBC Opera Ensemble with live music by Vancouver Opera Orchestra and conducted by Maestro Leslie Dala, I am happy to say, that the spell continued.

From the splendid soprano voice of Simone Osborne who sang “Libiamo ne’ lieti calici” from La Traviata by Giuseppe Verdi and her never ending quest to flawlessly reach the high notes without anyone’s glasses shattering, to the contralto voice of Yenny Lee whose low sultry notes managed to capture the very essence of the seductress Carmen in the song “Habanera: L’amour est un oiseau rebelle“, I was enthralled, enchanted and enraptured by every moment of every aria.

But I would be amiss if I were not to mention the male counterpart of Luka Kavalcata who seemed to throw himself in his role of Escamilo while singing “Votre toast” from Carmen.  His animated gestures and loud booming voice made the performance more electrifying.

But my favorite song of this performance would have to be Maya Goell who portrayed Olympia and sang “Non, aucun hote, vrairmont… les oiseaux dans la charmille” from Jacques Offenbach by Hoffman who not only had such a melodic and sweet voice as she trilled, but her convincing robotic movements elicited fits of laughter from the audience.

This presentation of Opera & Arias presented arias from four operas – La Traviata and Rigoletto by Giuseppe Verdi, Carmen by Georges Bizet and Jacques Offenbach by Hoffman. Although I’ve never attended the full length operas of these four operas, to my surprise quite a few songs sounded familiar and after I googled these operas, I discovered that many are often used in Italian pasta commercials and even cartoons such Bugs Bunny or the Muppets.  So for those of you who turn up your nose in disdain when others mention opera, you might want to think twice because one of those ditties that catches your attention from the commercial just might originate from an opera.  Opera & Arias proved once again that great opera doesn’t have to cost a pretty penny, and the performances by the young talented opera singers of UBC Opera Ensemble are indisputable evidence of that fact.

About Operas and Arias:

Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival presents Opera & Arias: Verdi and More!, performed by the UBC Opera Ensemble and accompanied by members of the Vancouver Opera Orchestra. UBC’s Nancy Hermiston directs this in-concert costumed staging and maestro Leslie Dala (Vancouver Opera) leads the musicians, joined by acclaimed guest performer Simone Osborne. Concerts are August 26 and September 2 at 2 pm & 7:30 pm on Bard’s BMO Mainstage in Vanier Park. Tickets from $26. Call 604-739-0559 or buy online at


Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival presents its annual Opera & Arias concerts, bringing the most gorgeous melodies to life — from La Traviata, Rigoletto, Carmen and more. Enjoy the 30th season of Bard on the Beach by attending a live performance of these best-loved opera selections which are sure to seduce, delight and inspire.

The rising stars of the UBC Opera Ensemble and members of the Vancouver Opera Orchestra bring Opera & Arias: Verdi and More! to Vanier Park on two Mondays in late August and early September. UBC’s Nancy Hermiston, who was recently inducted into the BC Entertainment Hall of Fame, directs this in-concert staging. Mestro Leslie Dala leads the musicians and all performances are hosted by Christopher Gaze, the Artistic Director of Bard on the Beach. As a special highlight, internationally acclaimed soprano and UBC Opera alumni Simone Osborne will be a featured performer in all four concerts.

“I’m so pleased to bring some of the most beautiful music from the best-loved operas to our audience” says Gaze. “I remember Simone when she was a teenager in one of our Young Shakespearean workshops – she has now become one of Canada’s finest Opera singers and loved and respected far and wide. We look forward to having her back on the Bard stage with the tremendous talent of the UBC Opera Ensemble and the Vancouver Opera Orchestra. This is a concert you won’t want to miss!”

The UBC Opera Ensemble was created in 1995 by Professor Hermiston and draws from advanced students in the UBC School of Music. “We welcome Simone Osborne back to her UBC alma mater with much love, admiration and deepest gratitude for joining us once again on the stage” says Professor Hermiston. This year’s program, Verdi and More! will feature both familiar and debut soloists, with a cast including: Simone Osborne, Andrea Wyllie, Ian McCloy, Dae Hyun Justin Cho, Thomas Lamont, Iorwerth Lewis, Alyssa Samson, Carleigh Ross, Philip Wing, Liam Robertson, Benson Temple, Rafael Laurindo, Sodam Lee, Sydney Frelick, Magdalena How, Luka Kawabata, Hyum Seung Son, Turgut Akmete, Ian Cleary, Irem Ince, Yenny Lee, Kurt Ward-Theiss, Taryn Plater, Hope Nelson, Tessa Waddell, Amanda Na, Julia Johnstone, Nia Lewis, Maya Goell, Christopher Nakatani, Sarah Sum, Juliana Cook, Leila Kirves, Sarah Anderson-Caulfield, Marina Agasian, Abigail Ayala, Alanah Ellsworth, and Justin Chen.

Matinee performances (2pm) and evening performances (7:30pm) are on Monday, August 26 and Monday,
September 2. The concerts are on Bard’s BMO Mainstage, backed by a spectacular vista of mountains, sea and sky.

Ticket prices include all applicable fees & taxes and begin at $26; youth price available. Early booking is recommended for best seat selection, as many performances sell out in advance. Full pricing information and site and event details are on the Bard website at To book tickets, call the Bard Box Office at 604-739-0559 or (toll free) 1-877-739-0559 or order online through the Bard website.

About Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival

Bard on the Beach is one of Canada’s largest not-for-profit, professional Shakespeare festivals. Established in 1990, the annual summer festival’s mission is to perform, explore and celebrate the genius of William Shakespeare, surrounded by the natural beauty of Vancouver, British Columbia. Bard also offers year-round education and training programs for youth, adults and theatre professionals in its administrative home at the BMO Theatre Centre in Olympic Village as well as in schools and community facilities throughout the Lower Mainland of British Columbia.

Bard on the Beach gratefully acknowledges the corporate sponsors who support and sustain the Festival and its programs. 2019 sponsors include Season Sponsors Newmont Goldcorp and the Peter & Joanne Brown Foundation; Production Sponsors Avison Young, Lawson Lundell, BlueShore Financial and Lonetree Cider; Season Media Sponsors The Vancouver Sun and Global BC, as well as many other valued sponsors and partners. Bard also thanks the City of Vancouver Cultural Services Department, the Vancouver Park Board, the Province of British Columbia, the BC Arts Council, and the Canada Council for the Arts for their continuing support.




Editor in Chief of Fabulously Frugal in Vancouver.

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