Thursday, December 29, 2011

VanCOCO Celebrates Year One!!! Share your accomplishments and WINTICKETS to Rigoletto!

Concert Opera Society
2011 Year In Review

A New Year is upon us and we at VanCOCO have been thinking about our many accomplishments in 2011 and what the New Year has in store for us. While we don't like to use the word "resolutions" because "resolutions" have a habit of falling through the cracks, instead we have decided to present a YEAR IN REVIEW to commemorate our first season.

Did we really do this?

Yes we did! 2011 was VanCOCO's inaugural year and we couldn't be happier with the results. Our Founder and Artistic Director, Natalie Burdeny, began with the observation that there simply weren’t enough professional performance opportunities for the many talented artists in Vancouver and that taking on the financial risk of a production individually was simply not feasible. As a result the solution was conceived; a co-operative! The idea was simple; band together like-minded performers to work in a co-operative fashion and mount a professional scale concert performance where not only the financial risk was shared by the artists involved but in turn, so was the financial gain and the artistic rewards. 

And what a ride it has been! Beginning with our very first concert production of Bizet’s Carmen in January 2011, we performed to a sold-out audience who leapt to their feet in applause at the conclusion (Read the review from Opera Canada here). That performance will always be remembered; wrought with illness, Tenor Frédérik Robert stepped in on 36 hours notice to perform the role of Don Jose and young Bass-Baritone Max Van Wyck also stepped in to cover an ailing Zuniga. With some fearless leadership from Maestra, Rosemary Thomson and our two-handed orchestra, Kinza Tyrrell, the night was spectacular! VanCOCO was officially off to the races.

Throughout the year we were able to perform 5 concerts of Carmen in Vancouver, Victoria, and Richmond. While the financial gains were minimal the artistic rewards and exposure were well worth the effort.

And if “concert opera” wasn’t enough, we found ourselves fully entrenched in our first foray into the cyclone that is the “Fringe Festival”. Plans for the mounting of a staged production of Leonard Bernstein’s Trouble In Tahiti began in the early spring with performances set for September. This time we had sets to build, choreography to learn, find and secure a cast and crew to run the show, and most importantly find someone who could play this challenging piece. In the end, the show was a huge success (reviews here!), we learned a boat-load about self-marketing, and we had so much fun being a part of the “Fringe Family” that we are toying with the idea of a commissioned piece that we could tour with in the future. Of course kudos are in order to Kathleen Gable Lohrenz (our fearless Music Director who held us all together), Andrea Rabinovitch (Choreographer responsible for the "Little White House"), Phil Schultze (Lighting Designer) and Ed Moran who wore just about every hat possible, including directing the show and singing the role of Sam! 

Our season finished off with two final back-to-back performances of Carmen at Minoru Chapel in Richmond in October with VanCOCO newbies Mezzo-Soprano Megan Morrison and Pianist, Michal Onwood joining us for the first time. A delightful venue, again with appreciative audiences, it was a pleasure to be a part of their “Opera Series” and we hope to return to Minoru with a new concert production in 2012.

Lessons learned?

Yes, there were many! While each production had its challenges the overall reward outweighed them all. In the end, we believe we made a positive contribution to Vancouver’s musical scene and met the goals of our mandate to provided high-level performance opportunities to the singers in this community as well as top-notch performances to our audiences. We learned that a good marketing plan is essential and that none of this could be achieved without the hard-working volunteers that have helped us along the way! Fiscally the year could have been better, but as we learn and grow as an organization we are confident that VanCOCO will continue to thrive in the community. We are committed to keeping our ticket prices affordable so that we can continue to entice new audiences through our doors and keep the art of “opera” alive.

What’s next?

As we step into the New Year it is fitting that we also have a new name. In late November of this year we were officially granted our non-profit status and we are now Vancouver Concert Opera Society” – but you can still call us VanCOCO!!! Our first Founding Board Members meeting will kick off the New Year and will undoubtedly lead to a more focussed vision and concise plan for VanCOCO for the coming years.

And with our new name comes a new production!

February 15 & 17 in Vancouver / February 18 in White Rock
In mid-February we will mount Verdi’s gripping tale of Rigoletto. The talented Maestro Gordon Gerrard will lead us with his baton for these performances planned for February 15 and 17 in Vancouver and February 18 in White Rock. You will see some familiar faces with the enigmatic Tenor, Frédérik Robert returning to us as the Duke of Mantua, along with some fresh faces including Toronto-based Baritone, Keith O’Brien who will make his debut as Rigoletto, and local Soprano, Szu-Wen Wang who will delight you with her sparkling colouratura as Gilda!

Tell us your goals for 2012 and WIN TICKETS!

This is how we intend to ring in the New Year at VanCOCO and we want you to tell us what's in your Year-In-Review. And just for sharing your thoughts with us, we will randomly draw 3 winners from the responses received by January 16 to attend a Rigoletto performance of your choice in February (with a friend of course!).

From all of us at VanCOCO we wish you a prosperous 2012!!!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Seasons Greetings and Gilda's Ginger Snaps!

Seasons Greetings

VanCOCO would like to send each of you a warm Merry Christmas and Seasons Greetings. Each and every one of you have helped us to have a hugely successful 2011 and for that we are truly grateful. We sincerely hope that this season finds you in the presence of those whom you adore most.

VanCOCO started 2011 with a hugely successful production of Carmen, which we have remounted twice this year, and a fully staged production of Bernstein's Trouble in Tahiti at the Vancouver International Fringe Festival. What you may not know is that we have now become a fully registered Non-Profit Society and we are now Vancouver Concert Opera Society, but you can still call us VanCOCO because our motto and mandate have not changed. We are still "all about the music" and our goal remains to "create performance opportunities for emerging Operatic Professionals." We made some great connections during these productions and we hope that we have made some long standing fans.

Big Announcements

We will be opening 2012 with a concert production of Verdi's masterwork Rigoletto. We have assembled a fine group of artists who will be lead by the baton of Maestro Gordon Gerrard and we know that you will not be disappointed. Tickets are currently available for advance purchase on-line and available just in time to make a great stocking stuffer for the opera aficionado on your list.

Stay tuned in the coming weeks for entertaining information about our upcoming show.

Click here for Advance Tickets or visit our Facebook Event Page.


We wanted to give all of our fans a new Audi A4 to show our love but our new Board of Directors just wouldn't approve the budget so we decided that we would share with you our favorite Christmas cookie recipe. Make sure to leave some of these out for Santa and maybe he will leave you something extra special under the tree.
  • 3/4 Cup Shortening
  • 1 Cup Br. Sugar
  • 1/4 Cup Molasses
  • 1 Egg
  • 2 1/4 Cup Sifted flower
  • 2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Ginger
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
Cream together shortening, brown sugar, molasses, and egg until light and fluffy. Sift together dry ingredients.  Mix dry ingredients into molasses mixture. Refrigerate dough overnight. Form into small balls and roll in granulated sugar.

Place 2 inches apart on greased cookie sheet and bake at 375 F for 10 minutes or until cookie tops begin to crackle. (For crispier cookies, bake 10-12 minutes or until just beginning to darken). Remove from pan and cool on wire rack.

Enjoy with a glass of your favorite holiday beverage and be sure to share with the ones you love.