Manitoba Opera Association

Manitoba Opera Association. Formed in Winnipeg in 1969 by A. Kerr Twaddle and 13 others to produce grand opera. A membership drive was co-ordinated with an operatic concert (1969) by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra featuring Jon Vickers and Teresa Stratas. Incorporated in 1970, its first venture was the sponsorship of the Winnipeg performance of the COC's touring production of Orpheus in the Underworld. This was followed by a concert version (1972) of Il Trovatore and a staged production (1973) of Madama Butterfly directed by Irving Guttman and conducted by Piero Gamba. By 1975 the association was offering three operas a year, with a budget which had leapt from $28,000 in 1972 to $260,000 made up of box office revenue, private donations, and grants from the city of Winnipeg, the Manitoba Arts Council and the Canada Council. Productions have included the most popular works of Verdi, Puccini, Mozart, Donizetti, and others, with important productions of such works as Nabucco and Salome.

Directors and conductors have included David Agler, Richard Bradshaw, George Cotton, Sonja Frisell, Herman Geiger-Torel, Anton Guadagno, Irving Guttman, Imre Pallo, Alfredo Silipigni, and Bernard Uzan. Singers in leading roles have included Victor Braun, Judith Forst, Maureen Forrester, Alexander Gray, Richard Margison, Allan Monk, Leona Mitchell, Dean Peterson, Diana Soviero, Heather Thomson, Edward Tumiagian and Victoria Vergara. Noted Winnipeg-born soprano Tracy Dahl, whose career has taken her to the Metropolitan and other international opera houses, returns frequently in such roles as Susanna (Marriage of Figaro), Marie (Daughter of the Regiment), and Olympia (Tales of Hoffmann). Manitoba bass Philip Ens made his operatic debut with the company. Supporting roles and chorus are cast locally. The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra accompanies performances, and dancers and scholarship students of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet professional division are engaged for ballet scenes.

Since 2002 Manitoba Opera has produced two full productions and a concert evening each year. The company works closely with the Winnipeg arts community, employing the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, the Manitoba Theatre Centre and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. The association is governed by a volunteer board of directors and two permanent professional directors: administrative and artistic. The Manitoba Opera is supported not only by individual and corporate donors, but also by the Canada Council, the Manitoba Arts Council, the City of Winnipeg and foundations such as the Winnipeg Foundation and the Thomas Sill Foundation.