Opera News

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION
Darlene Ronald (204)255-0508
Dronald84@shaw.ca

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 27, 2008

TRANSIT OF VENUS PROPELS
MANITOBA OPERA
TO A STELLAR SEASON

It was announced today at the organization’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) that Manitoba Opera's first commissioned work for the main stage - the world premiere of Transit of Venus composed by Victor Davies, with libretto by Maureen Hunter - succeeded in propelling the company through a stellar 35th anniversary season which culminated in a balanced budget.

Peter George, Chair of the Manitoba Opera (MO) Board of Trustees, announced at the AGM held in Winnipeg, that for the year ending June 30, 2008, a surplus of $81,876 was posted on a budget of $2,681,827. This marks the eighth consecutive year that the organization has balanced the budget. It was also announced that the accumulated deficit had been further reduced to $221,402. The accumulated deficit had reached $630,000 in 2001 prior to the company embarking on an extensive rebuilding strategy.

Transit of Venus received unprecedented financial support and enabled the company to raise a season total of $1,145,405 in corporate and private contributions. This included two of the largest single-sum donations ever received by Manitoba Opera: $250,000 from James Richardson & Sons, Limited and another quarter million from The Asper Foundation, Gail Asper & Michael Paterson, and Babs Asper, combined. Another record-breaking contribution was received at the government level as well. The Winnipeg Arts Council awarded Transit of Venus the largest grant they've ever allowed: $200,000 through their New Creations Fund.

"This past season was indeed an amazing year and ending it with a surplus of almost $82,000 on one of our largest operating budgets ever is very gratifying for the company," commented George. "The phenomenal support for Transit of Venus launched the season with a bang. To begin with a world premiere of a full-scale opera; end with the North American premiere of a children's opera; and achieve such artistic excellence throughout the season with outstanding artists, has resulted in a historic and very memorable 35th season for Manitoba Opera."

The 2007/08 season kicked off in November with Transit of Venus which starred top-ranked artists Russell Braun, Judith Forst, Jean Stilwell, and Monica Huisman. A mid-season celebration concert evening featuring other internationally acclaimed artists including Tracy Dahl, Sally Dibblee, and John Fanning followed. The regular season concluded with an audience favourite, La Traviata, that starred Yali-Marie Williams, Kurt Lehmann, and Theodore Baerg. In June, Manitoba Opera also staged the North American premiere of Jason and Hanna, an opera about war-affected children that showcased two dozen of Winnipeg's finest young singers.

Box office revenue for the 2007/08 season realized $526,442. This is the second highest box office since 1996 when the company regularly staged three full productions. The highest was in 2004/05 which featured La Bohème, a concert, and The Marriage of Figaro.

"This past season wasn't just about a celebration of 35 years of Manitoba Opera, but a celebration of the community coming together to bring to life a history-making event for the company and the community - the creation of a new opera," said Larry Desrochers, General Director & CEO. "We are deeply appreciative of our donors, ticket buyers, sponsors, and funders. Without their support for and belief in Transit of Venus, as well as all our other endeavours, opera in Manitoba would not be possible."

He added, "To have been able to stage a main-stage world premiere; a children's opera that gave Winnipeg youth a unique opportunity to create an opera first hand; a thrilling production of La Traviata; and a memorable concert event all in the same year has made for an outstanding season. And to have been able to make it all happen with such talented, remarkable artists has been unbelievable."

The 2008/09 Board of Trustees was also announced at the AGM. The trustees are Peter George (Chair), Sheila Bayda, Lawrence Elkow, Elba Haid, Charles Hebert, Leona Herzog, Christopher Mainella, Jennifer Snyder, Cindy Stevens, and Robert Vineberg.

2008/09 Season The 36th season kicks off with Verdi's blood-and-thunder opera, Il Trovatore, November 22, 25, and 28. Acclaimed Canadian tenor, Richard Margison will star in this ultimate romantic opera.

A mid-season, one-night-only concert version of Leonard Bernstein's sparkling musical comedy classic, Candide, February 28, will follow. Manitoba's irrepressible Tracy Dahl will be featured singing the signature soprano aria, "Glitter and Be Gay."

Puccini's heart wrenching and beautifully exotic, Madama Butterfly, closes the season on April 25, 28 and May 1. This intensely moving and haunting portrayal of the dangers of misguided love will feature another Winnipeg singer, tenor Kurt Lehmann as Pinkerton.

Season subscriptions are on sale now for as low as $42 (two operas) and $68 (two operas and the concert), with savings of up to 30% off the casual ticket prices. To order tickets or to receive a season brochure, call 957-7842.

Casual tickets will be on sale beginning Monday, September 29 through all Ticketmaster outlets, by calling 253-ARTS (2787) or at www.ticketmaster.ca.

For more information on the season, visit www.manitobaopera.mb.ca.

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phone: 204.942.7479 | fax: 204.949.0377
e-mail: mbopera@manitobaopera.mb.ca
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