City Opera Vancouver to Premiere Historic ‘Chinatown’

By Nicolas Quiroga

City Opera Vancouver is set to premiere “Chinatown” on September 13-17, 2022 at the Vancouver Playhouse.

The opera by librettist Madeleine Thien and composer Alice Ping Yee Ho, while a Western opera, will employ traditional Chinese themes and sounds. Opening at a time of anti-Asian racism, the opera represents a struggle to preserve Chinatown and the need to tell the Canadian story of an ethnic group that makes up 42 percent of the people in Metro Vancouver.

“Chinatown” will star tenor Spencer Britten, soprano Saihin Vania Chan, mezzo-soprano Hoisan Singer and Emma Parkinson, tenor Derek Kwan, and bass Matthew Li. The soloists will be accompanied by a large orchestra, a ghost choir, and a fusion of Chinese and Western instruments under the musical direction of Mary Chun. Debi Wong directs.

The opera is presumed to be the first opera written in English, Cantonese, and Hoisan combined. It is the first opera written about any Chinatown in Canada and is the first by librettist Madeleine Thien. It is also the third opera by composer Alice Ping Yee Ho.