East Van Opera, is a unique opera company dedicated to local and emerging artists. We will be presenting the world premiere of Beauty’s Beast at the ANNEX on Sept 6th and 7th 2019. This new take on the famous Beauty and the Beast fairytale features music penned and performed by local composer and soprano Allison Cociani with a libretto by Anna Shill, as well as a multi-award-winning cast from across the Lower Mainland.
East Van Opera is dedicated to the production of new music, and to elevating women in the performing arts. In keeping with this goal, Beauty’s Beast is an entirely female-led opera production, showcasing the talents of composer Cociani and librettist Shill alongside stage director Julie McIsaac and collaborative pianist Perri Lo. The production is part of what we hope will be a growing recognition for Canadian, female-led operatic repertoire, and a model for how opera can benefit from a female-driven perspective.
This perspective is particularly clear in the opera's own story. In Beauty's Beast, compassion and selflessness are recurrent themes (as they are throughout the ‘Beauty and the Beast’ canon), but the female protagonist is also an advocate for critical self-discovery. The opera focuses on Belle's journey to self-knowledge, and to how she builds a healthier relationship with the Beast based on mutual understanding, communication and consent - a particularly timely portrayal, given the concerns and awareness being fostered by the #MeToo movement.
We sees this timeliness as essential to making opera relevant to the community of Vancouver, and to bringing a new awareness to this often-traditional art form. "I think that people will find this opera is very relatable - particularly since it combines new music with a story that everyone knows," says Cociani. "By blending an innovative form and a current perspective with an iconic, incredibly beloved fairy tale, we're creating a show that isn't just for longtime opera lovers or classical music aficionados - it's truly for everyone."
Stage director Julie McIsaac agrees. "The music is haunting and beautiful. The story is one we love to hear again and again. The performers are exceptional, and they're really going to create some magic on the stage at the Annex."
Beauty’s Beast features Cociani as the Enchantress, soprano Anna Shill as Belle, baritone Jason Cook as Beast, and Perri Lo as their collaborative pianist. The production is sponsored by Vancouver Civic Theatres and the City of Vancouver.
September 6th, 7th 7:30 pm
September 7th 2:30 pm
September 7th 7:30 pm
ANNEX - 823 Seymour Street Vancouver BC
Tickets - $30 Students and Seniors $35 General Admission
Beauty's Beast Highlights
"[Possessing] a lovely voice, artistry in spades and a delightful stage presence" (Music in Victoria), soprano Anna Shill has been recognized for her work in concert and opera, performing repertoire from Bach to Boechler. Anna is a graduate of the UBC Opera Bachelor’s of Music Program, completing her Masters at UVIC in Voice Performance. She is also an alumni of Opera Nuova and GVPAF Rosebowl Winner. Anna has also performed a number of opera and musical theatre roles, including premiering, to great acclaim, the principle role of The Young Night in Ithaca, a new opera by Justin Boechler. Other roles include Despina (Cosi Fan Tutte), Noémie (Cendrillon), Cis (Albert Herring), Papagena (The Magic Flute), Second Woman (Dido and Aeneas), Hero (Beatrice and Benedict), Susanna (The Marriage of Figaro) and Tracey (Blisskrieg). Most recently, Anna recorded the role of Aunt Dete (Heidi – new musical), directed and choreographed her first opera, Alma (East Van Opera, 2017), portrayed the character Jenufa in the Pacific Opera Victoria Living Opera School Tour, and conducted Kaleidoscope Theatre’s Peter Pan.
A native of Vancouver, “lovely lyric baritone” (Georgia Straight) Jason Cook holds an undergraduate degree from the UBC School of Music with a major in Voice Performance, is a member of the Vancouver Opera Ensemble and a piano graduate of the Royal Conservatory of Music. With his roots in traditional choral performance and musical theatre, the marriage of these two styles led Jason to the operatic stage. Notable roles include Figaro (Il barbiere di Siviglia), Don Giovanni, Papageno (Die Zauberflöte), Gianni Schicchi, Danilo (Die lustige Witwe), Reverend Olin Blitch (Susannah), Marcello (La Bohème) and Count Almaviva (Le nozze di Figaro). Opera Canada claims his recent portrayal of Escamillo in Burnaby Lyric Opera’s production of Carmen was “brilliantly sung and pricelessly acted”. Following his “delightful” and “on point” (Vancouver Presents) performance as Prince Charming and the Wolf in Sondheim’s Into the Woods, he received a Community Theatre Coalition award for ‘Lead Actor in a Musical’. This young artist is also well versed in oratorio, chamber music and art song - now broadening his repertoire by engaging in the world of original Canadian compositions. Jason has had the privilege of performing across Canada, Europe, China and Australia representing Canadian opera singers in a variety of styles and languages. On top of his performance schedule, Mr. Cook is also a busy teacher operating his own music studio in Say something interesting about your business here.
Allison Cociani was born in Vancouver and grew up in the Okanagan Valley, where she studied piano and then voice with her early mentor Aurora Hamill. At the Victoria Conservatory of Music under Karen Smith, she completed a teaching and performing diploma. Allison moved to Italy to perform and study, working on Italian repertoire and language with baritone Nicolo Ceriani. In concert Allison has performed in Ancona, Pesaro, Trieste, Montreal, Vancouver and other cities across British Columbia. In 2005 she was awarded second place in the Canadian National Voice Competition. Recently she appeared onstage with Opera Mariposa in La Serva Padrona, where she was hailed as “a delight to watch and hear” (Review Vancouver), and in Menotti’s The Telephone. Other notable roles include Susanna - Marriage of Figaro, and the Queen of the Night - The Magic Flute. Her passion for singing is clear in her work as a composer, appearing in the title role for her first opera, Alma in June of 2017 at the Metro Theatre in Vancouver. Along with new music compositions, she has written several scores for video games, and has been a busy artist in the electronic genre. As East Van Opera’s artistic director, she continually creates opportunities for young composers and performers to pursue their musical dreams.Say something interesting about your business here.
A stage director, dramaturg, playwright/librettist and multi-instrumentalist, Julie is a graduate of the University of York, Carleton University and the Canadian College of Performing Arts. She is a Jessie, Ovation and BroadwayWorld award winner, Associate Artist with Firepot Performance and a founding member of the Honest Fishmongers (Critics’ Choice Innovation award nom.). A frequent collaborator with Urban Ink, she is Associate Director of Children of God and the co-creator of Les Filles du Roi. As Artist-in-Residence at Pacific Opera Victoria, Julie staged Le nozze di Figaro for Opera Studio and worked alongside Atom Egoyan, Maria Lamont and Peter Hinton on productions of Jenůfa, La Bohème, and the world premiere of Missing (City Opera Vancouver & POV). Other opera: assistant director, L’incoronazione di Poppea (COSI). Upcoming: stage director of Beauty’s Beast (East Van Opera); assistant stage director of Silent Light (Banff Centre/Against the Grain) and Hansel and Gretel (COC). Other directing credits (self): world premiere of My Rabbi (Sum Theatre), The Exquisite Hour (Relephant Theatre; Playhouse Fringe Award), Little Women, Pride & Prejudice and Harvey (Chemainus), and the award-winning slam poetry musical Poly Queer Love Ballad. Julie’s first play The Out Vigil was featured in the 2015 New American Voices Festival in London’s West End and has since been performed across Canada. She is now writing the libretto for an opera inspired by the 1899 murder trial and execution of Hilda Blake and is director-dramaturg of 3 other works in development: A Mother Bear’s Journey (Taninli Wright), Dauntless(Greenfield/ Boychuk) and Luz (Alexandra Lainfiesta).
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