Missing from City Opera Vancouver Honours the Missing

“Sparrow”
Artwork by Kelli Clifton

Opening this Friday, City Opera Vancouver with Pacific Opera Victoria presents the world premiere of Missing, a profoundly moving and pivotal opera ripped from the headlines. 

Focusing on the national crisis of missing and murdered, Missing is written by distinguished Canadian Métis playwright Marie Clements, with a gripping score by JUNO Award-winning composer Brian Current.  The work confronts the tragedy of more than 1,200 missing and murdered First Nations, Inuit and Métis women and girls in Canada, and the affect it has on the communities and families – both First Nations and non-First Nations – dealing with their loss.

Baritone – Clarence Logan Mezzo – Rose-Ellen Nichols Soprano-Melody Courage Photo : Emily Coopper

“With Missing we have the rare opportunity to inform about this crisis in a meaningful and unprecedented way,” says Charles Barber, Artistic Director, City Opera Vancouver. “We commissioned Marie Clements to write her first-ever opera libretto to honour the memory of each and every missing and murdered Indigenous woman. The poignant tale she so brilliantly conceived lends itself to opera, as the human voice is a powerful vehicle to draw deep emotion and introspection. It is the story of two women who represent so many – one who survives and one who does not, and it’s through their story we find hope and, for some, healing.”

“The story of Missing can’t answer the questions I’ve been asking my whole life, but I am hoping it will join other voices who are asking the same questions, telling their stories, and demanding an end to what should be unfathomable,” says Marie Clements, Librettist.

Missing is set between Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and BC’s notorious Highway 16 – the Highway of Tears, where at least 18 women have vanished or been found murdered since 1969. Told through both English and the First Nations language of Gitxsan (widely spoken in First Nations communities along Highway 16), this chamber opera follows the fate of an Indigenous and non-Indigenous young woman whose lives become tragically intertwined. White girl ‘Ava’ becomes mysteriously drawn to the language, traditions and sufferings of the ‘unknown Native Girl’ with whom she crosses paths, and, thereafter, she finds herself in internal conflict as her community struggles toward reconciliation.

Missing takes the stage, November 3,7,9 & 11 at 8pm, and November 5 at 2pm at The York Theatre. Tickets are available online at thecultch.com

Hardline Productions presents REDPATCH

Redpatch – image: David Cooper

Vancouver’s Hardline Productions latest work, Redpatch, is a celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge and the contribution and sacrifice made by Canada’s First Nations, Metis and aboriginal people.

With an all Aboriginal cast, Redpatch follows the a young Métis, Woodrow or Halfblood, played by co-writer Raes Calvert, who longs to be a warrior so volunteers for the battlefields of WWI, much to his Grandmother’s chagrin. Grandmother uses traditional stories to try to convince Woodrow that he doesn’t need to fight the “White Man’s War” to be a warrior.  Through flashbacks we learn of his experiences in the ‘white school’ with his best friend Jonathan.  In the battlefields of France, our young soldier endures the trenches, discrimination while becoming a standout scout.  The mental and physical stress takes its toll, was this how he thought being a warrior was like?

image : Mark Halliday

Co-writer and director Sean Harris Oliver has kept the staging simple and imaginative, incorporating both modern and traditional aboriginal movements to weave the stories together.  First Nations legends form a basis for the modern stories. To make sure the stories are faithfully told, Calvert and Oliver spent many hours in libraries and travelling to remote First Nations communities, including Nootka Island, where their fictional soldier calls home.  For those of us growing up on the Coast the traditional stories are familiar, and with Vimy in the headlines, the production has a depth and history that makes it feel timeless.

Now playing at Studio 16, the intimacy of the theatre, allows the audience to feel like they’re part of the action. The only drawback is the rake of the seating makes some of the low movements on the floor difficult to see from some seats.

Redpatch runs until April 16th at Studio 17 in Le Centre Cultural Francophone Vancouver on West 7th Ave. Visit hardlineproductions.ca for more information and tickets.

Audience members should be aware that the production includes the use of artificial smoke/fog, flash and strobe lighting and explosions.