Students from Hillhurst School creating Doppel during Let's Create an Opera

Building generations of opera lovers.

Education programs are an essential part of what we do, enriching the experiences of our current patrons and building audiences for tomorrow through student and young people outreach. This includes great programs like Let’s Create an Opera that gives students the opportunity to create their own original opera, the Opera in Schools Tour that brings one-act operas into schools performed by Calgary Opera’s Emerging Artists, and Allegro Group for those opera lovers (or soon to be opera lovers) under 35. 

Thank you to Repsol and TD for believing that arts can make a positive difference to the lives of young people. We thank them for their generous support of our community programs. 

2015-16 Emerging Artists (Photo by Bookstrucker Photography)

Discover everything you need to know about opera, and Calgary Opera.

This section will teach you everything you need to know about Calgary opera, and opera - from buying a ticket to shouting Bravo! at the end of the performance, and everything in-between. You can also discover our Emerging Artist Development Program. Each season, Calgary Opera provides up to eight young singers with the opportunity to study and perform under a highly prestigious professional staff of teachers and performers. This program acts as a bridge between post-secondary education and the professional opera world.

Enbridge believes in making communities culturally vibrant through investments in the arts. We thank them for their generous support of our Emerging Artist program.

We thrive with your support.

Ticket sales cover less than a third of the cost of producing live opera, even on sold-out shows. We rely on government funding, sponsorships from corporations, and charitable donations to ensure that opera is alive and well for our community. 

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Ambur Braid & Adam Luther in The Magic Flute (Photo by Trudie Lee)

General Director & CEO

With over 30 years in artistic and administrative leadership, W.R. (Bob) McPhee, C.M., has become recognized as a leading force in the Canadian arts scene.

Bob was born and raised in Winnipeg where he received his initial education and music training, graduating from the University of Manitoba. He began his career as a baritone performing in theatre and opera, and on radio and television. He served as artistic director and conductor for several choral groups.

Gradually, Bob became more involved in arts administration and studied at Grant MacEwan University, The Banff Centre School of Management and Stanford University. His first administrative position was with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet as Development Officer and then Director of Development. He joined the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra as Director of Development and Marketing and was later appointed Assistant General Manager.

Bob was General Manager of Orchestra London prior to joining the Edmonton Symphony as General Manager. In 1992, he was appointed President and CEO of the Edmonton Symphony Society and Edmonton Concert Hall Foundation. He successfully led these organizations to the on-schedule and on-budget completion of the state-of-the-art Winspear Centre for Music. He introduced a very successful summer festival, began a touring program, made significant commitments to the development and creation of Canadian works, and released numerous recordings.

Bob McPhee joined Calgary Opera as General Director and CEO in 1998, allowing him to return to his first love – opera. During his tenure, Calgary Opera has more than doubled its operating budget, achieving 14 consecutive surplus seasons performing to more than 80% capacity. In addition to attaining financial stability, Bob has also led the company to great artistic achievements. Calgary Opera holds the distinction of being one of the most recorded companies in Canada, is a leader in the development in new Canadian opera works, runs western Canada’s most comprehensive professional training programs for Emerging Artists, and mounted Canada’s first outdoor summer opera festival in August 2013. In 2005, Calgary Opera became the second opera company in Canada to have its own facility, with a 10-year lease of the historic Wesley Church in Calgary’s Beltline District.

Throughout his career, Bob has been active in many professional associations and is in demand as a clinician and lecturer. He has been an adjudicator, assessor and board member for numerous organizations. He was the first Canadian invited to speak at an Opera Europa Conference in Paris. He is a founding board member of the Calgary Arts Development Authority, Past Chair of Opera.ca, past member of the OPERA America Board of Directors, sits on the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Arts Award Board of Directors, as well as the Premier's Council for Culture. During his career, Bob has worked with some of the great artists of the world from Itzach Perlman to YoYo Ma, from Renee Fleming to Pavarotti. He has also been the recipient of many awards, including the Alberta Achievement Award (1988), the Syncrude Canada Scholarship for “Innovation in Arts Leadership” (1992), a Grant MacEwan University “Alumni of Distinction Award” (1994), the Chalmers National Award for “Achievement in Arts Administration” (2000), the first Rozsa Award for “Excellence in Arts Artistic/Administration Leadership” (2003), a Fellowship at Stanford University Graduate School of Business – Executive Program in Non-Profit Leadership – Arts (2004), and a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal (2012) .

On December of 2013, his Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, appointed Bob to the Order of Canada, one of our country's highest civilian honours.

Most recently, Bob was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Opera Canada Awards (also known as a Ruby) in 2015. These awards were established in 1999 to recognize and honour outstanding individual achievements onstage and behind the scenes.