Calgary Opera Wins Hearts of United’s Residents

United residents were treated this week to performances by Calgary Opera’s Emerging Artists, and the singers – among the best in Canada – delivered a wide range of old and new arias and duets.

“Each year we audition some 120 singers from across the country, and narrow that down to six or eight to join our Emerging Artist program,” said Mel Kirby, the program’s manager. “This year we chose eight to spend the next eight months with us to enhance their dramatic skills and receive ongoing voice training. It sets them up for their future careers in opera.”

Calgary Opera's Mel Kirby
Calgary Opera’s Mel Kirby

The performers mixed older pieces with two songs from the upcoming performance of a new opera, Everest, which Calgary Opera will premiere this week. Calgary Opera is one of several arts, culture and higher learning organizations that United Active Living has partnered with. Each partnership provides opportunities for residents to experience small, intimate concerts or events within their communities, and to attend outside performances. Calgary Opera conductor Kimberley-Ann Bartczak has spoken to residents at both Garrison Green and Fish Creek, and residents attend dress rehearsals.

“Performing for United really allows us to get out into the community,” said Mel. “We enjoy introducing opera to people in all age groups who may not have been exposed to it before.”

Marie Civitarese with Mel Kirby on piano
Marie Civitarese with Mel Kirby on piano

“It’s about community and sharing the music and emotions with the audience,” said emerging artist Marie Civitarese from Trail, B.C. “Opera should be accessible, and the new operas, which are often performed in English, help do that.” Megan Miceli from Mississauga, Ontario echoed that thought. “Mozart is still relevant, but new operas add more subjects that audiences can relate to such as the drama and emotion in the new Everest performance.”

Garrison Green resident Anthony Parel and his wife were very excited to hear the performers. “We went to Calgary Opera performances for 25 years but we haven’t gone recently because we don’t like driving at night, so when the performers came to Garrison Green, it was very nice. Such talented singers!”

Photos and video by Sherana Productions

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To learn more about life at United’s Garrison Green, watch this short video.