About the Centre
Address: 1315 - 7 Street SW, Calgary, Alberta T2R 1M5
In July of 2005 Calgary Opera took over the old Wesley United Church, converting it into the Calgary Opera Centre. Located in the busy Beltline District, at the corner of 14th Avenue and 7th Street S.W., this beautiful heritage building has taken Calgary Opera to a whole new level offering unprecedented opportunities for Community Connections and Artistic Development.
This building has a rich heritage and for many years was a house of worship, a Sunday school, and an important venue for ceremonies that marked the most momentous occasions in thousands of peoples’ lives.
The Mamdani Opera Centre
In 1911, the Wesley congregation established a building fund for the church. Significant contributors included Senator James A. Lougheed, former mayor and provincial cabinet minister William H. Cushing, future mayor Herbert A. Sinott, and future Prime Minister R.B. Bennett.
In 1930, membership of the church exceeded its seating capacity. Assisted by a $10,000 donation from Lachlin McKinnon, the congregation built galleries that increased seating by 50%. The galleries were dedicated to the memory of pioneer mothers of Southern Alberta.
The Arrata Opera Centre (2007-2015)
In 1961 a Youth Centre was added to the Christian Education Building. Church membership peaked at 1300 members. Through the 1960s increased suburbanization of Calgary led to a sharp decline in the Wesley Church’s membership. By 1984 the church had fewer than 300 members.
Calgary Opera has converted the old Wesley Church into a working Opera Centre, where the company has its administrative offices, rehearsal hall, wardrobe shop, and education wing. Rehearsals, recitals, and events now take place in the beautiful and inspiring setting of the former sanctuary.
In April 2007 Said Arrata became the naming benafactor of the newly named Arrata Opera Centre. Mr. Arrata's donation is the largest individual gift ever to be given to Calgary Opera.
Naming Sponsor (2007-2015) - Mr. Said Arrata
Mr. Said Arrata is a steadfast supporter of music in our community, as evidenced by his major gift to Calgary Opera as the naming benefactor of the Arrata Opera Centre. Said Arrata is recognized in Calgary as an accomplished entrepreneur and as a dedicated community leader and humanitarian. He is well-known for his inspirational and innovative leadership throughout his forty year career with the petroleum industry, both locally and internationally. Mr. Arrata is greatly appreciated in our community for his devotion to the arts, and his commitment to various humanitarian causes and higher education. He is a long-time champion of the Alberta Ballet, Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, Rotary Club, United Way, as well as our colleges and universities. The sponsorship of the Opera Centre is the highlight of years of joyful association between the Arrata family and Calgary Opera.
At the 2008 Mayor's Evening for Business and the Arts, Mr. Arrata received the Patron Award for Sustained Support for his outstanding support of Calgary Opera.
Naming Sponsor (2015-2018) - Riaz Mamdani
Riaz Mamdani is a Calgary-based real estate developer, business and philanthropist with a notable admiration and respect for the performing arts. As the founder and CEO of Strategic Group, Riaz has developed the company into one of Canada’s largest privately held real estate organizations.
In 2015, Riaz Mamdani began a three-year partnership with Calgary Opera that will help the Opera to stay in their current location until their transition to a new space located on the Youth Campus at Stampede Park.
For more information about Riaz Mamdani, you can read his full profile here.