Society hopes to revive opera in Nanaimo

A recently formed non-profit society that hopes to revive the opera music scene in Nanaimo is looking for volunteers.

Opera Nanaimo, which has a mandate to revitalize opera in the Harbour City, is getting ready to host its first in a series of concerts titled Opera Gems and could use some additional help.

Board member Bonnie Stebbings said that the society has a handful of board members but could use a few more people with a variety of expertise, particularly in marketing and brand development.

“We need marketing people … who know how to go out and find sponsors,” Stebbings said. “We need a variety of expertise on a board that can steer us in the right direction.”

In addition to board members, Opera Nanaimo is also looking for high school students who need community service hours or post-secondary students who are interested in volunteering at any of number of the events that they have planned this year.

“If they are interested in helping backstage or front of house, like taking tickets or anything like that,” Stebbings said.

The first concert in the Opera Gems series, titled Opera Gems for Valentines, will be held on Thursday (Feb. 13) at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church and features opera performers Sharon Wishart, Neil Reimer, Bahareh Poureslami and Amy Steggles.

“Our first mandate was to start out very small and feature local talent. Local meaning the Island,” Stebbings said about the performance. “These are accomplished singers but not professional, in the sense that it isn’t their job.”

The idea to create Opera Nanaimo began last year when Stebbings, along with her husband Michael, realized that there were limited opportunities for opera performers in Nanaimo.

“I, myself, am a singer and I used to sing in the Vancouver Opera and when you come to Nanaimo there isn’t a lot of opportunity. A lot of the opportunity that was available was in Qualicum … we have the Port Theatre, although we can’t afford it yet, but we certainly have the facilities here so let’s see what happens,” Stebbings said.

Board member John Finnie said that Opera Nanaimo is hoping to be producing events that can be held at the Port Theatre in the future.

“The goal for the society within the next year or two is to be putting on regular operatic performances at the Port Theatre,” he said. “That’s the outside goal.”

Anyone interested in volunteering, please visit http://operananaimo.ca/wordpress/contact/.

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