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. 

 

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 Toi Toi Toi! 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.

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)

Leadership Team

Heather Kitchen, Managing Director & CEO

Heather Kitchen is an arts administrator with more than 40 years of professional experience, specializing in strategic and program planning, fundraising, financial analysis, board development, and union negotiations.

Most recently she served as the Interim Executive Producer, Performing Arts at Banff Centre for Arts & Creativity. From 2011 to 2015 Ms. Kitchen was the Managing Director of Dallas Theater Center (DTC). During her tenure at DTC, the theatre grew its budget from $7M to more than $12M and successfully completed a $13.1M capital campaign. As Executive Director of American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) in San Francisco for 14 seasons, Ms. Kitchen grew the organization’s budget from $11M to $20M. Ms. Kitchen was instrumental in the further development of the famed Conservatory at A.C.T. and its top-five ranked Master of Fine Arts program.

Ms. Kitchen was the General Manager of the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton for four seasons and worked in stage management for 15 years in many of the major regional theatres across Canada, including the Stratford Festival, The Neptune Theatre, and Canadian Stage Company.

Ms. Kitchen is a noted teacher of stage, production, and arts management, having taught and guest lectured at more than 20 universities and colleges throughout Canada and the United States, including the University of Connecticut, Stanford University, Ryerson University, University of California, Berkeley, and the Universities of Waterloo, Western Ontario, Guelph, Alberta, and Saskatchewan, among others.

Bramwell Tovey, Artistic Director

Following an exceptional 18-year tenure as Music Director of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, where he is now Music Director Emeritus, Grammy® and Juno award-winning conductor and composer Bramwell Tovey now joins Calgary Opera as its Artistic Director.

Under his leadership the VSO toured China, Korea, across Canada and the United States. His VSO innovations included the establishment of the VSO School of Music for which he served as Artistic Advisor from 2011 to 2018, the VSO’s annual festival of contemporary music and the VSO Orchestral Institute at Whistler, a comprehensive summer orchestral training program for young musicians held in the scenic mountain resort of Whistler in British Columbia. At Bramwell’s final concert as Music Director, the board of directors announced that the school building immediately behind the orchestra’s historic Orpheum home will be renamed The Tovey Family Centre for Music thanks to generous financial support from several prominent VSO donors.

Bramwell made his operatic debut conducting the legendary Leonie Rysanek’s final appearance as Puccini’s Tosca with Cape Town Opera. In 2015 he led Sondra Radvanovsky, Bryn Terfel and Brandon Jovanovich in Tosca at the Boston Symhony Orchestra’s Tanglewood Festival. He has appeared with the Canadian Opera Company and opera companies in Manitoba, Edmonton and Vancouver. He has conducted for Calgary Opera many times since his debut in 1994 and his own opera, The Inventor, written with librettist John Murrell, was commissioned by Calgary Opera and premiered in 2011. As Principal Guest Conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl he conducted annual operatic performances, including Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess , Bernstein’s Candide and Bizet’s Carmen.

From 2002 to 2006 Bramwell was Music Director of the Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg. His recording of Jean Cras’ 1922 neglected opera Polyphème with OPL won the prestigious Academie Lyrique Française Prix d’Or.

Bramwell is also Principal Conductor of the BBC Concert Orchestra and Artistic Advisor of the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra. During the 2018/2019 season his guest appearances include the Chicago, St. Louis, Houston, Indianapolis, and Toronto symphonies, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra and the Los Angeles and New York Philharmonic Orchestras. In January 2019 he will return to the Winnipeg Symphony’s New Music Festival which he founded in 1992 during his tenure as Artistic Director there.

Bramwell has twice conducted the New York Philharmonic Orchestra on the PBS television program Live at Lincoln Center, most recently this past New Year’s Eve when he was interviewed about Leonard Bernstein’s influence on his own career. He met and worked with Bernstein in 1986.

In 2013 he was appointed an honorary Officer of the Order of Canada for services to music. Since 2006 he has been Artistic Director of the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain, one of the British Arts Council’s leading youth music groups.