Rebekah Janzen lives to sing opera. As a hard-working professional with family here in the West Shore, it was difficult for her to find high-quality, principal solo roles without having to leave the Island. Outside of participating in chorus roles with the Pacific Opera and Community Musical Theatre groups, there were few other places that highly talented opera singers, like herself, could perform and hone their craft in meaningful and challenging ways. She wasn’t alone; she discovered that many of her professional associates were experiencing the same thing. Everyone was looking for solo work that could accommodate their busy family and working lives.
“It was such a waste to have so much great talent lying dormant within our island communities. Something had to be done,” says Rebekah. So, back in early 2017, she took action and founded the Vancouver Island Performers Guild VIPG], a registered non-profit society, to open up and facilitate performance opportunities for local artists.
“The purpose of VIPG,” says Rebekah, “was to inspire a stage for local performers to innovate opera, oratorio works and other musical projects that we could perform to entertain and engage our local communities. That way, we can create opportunities for more solo work for ourselves rather than waiting for larger companies to initiate projects.”
VIPG is also intent on opening up more opportunity for women on stage as there are so few leading roles available or them in opera. “It’s important that when we choose shows, we make selections that always offer or favour equal opportunity for women in lead roles,” Rebekah says.
In early 2017, local singers were invited to audition for upcoming principal roles, featured performances, and chorus opportunities. A cast was quickly assembled. By July 2017, VIPG had produced an Opera-in-a-Box presentation of ‘Martha: Unadorned’ followed by ‘Handel’s Messiah’ in December, 2017.
Following last year’s successful presentations, VIPG is thrilled to be heading into their second season in 2018, one that is infinitely more ambitious than its 2017 season.
• Opera-in-a-Box June 10 to 19. Principal Roles and Chorus. Presents Bellini’s ‘La Sonnambula’ [The Sleepwalker] reinvented for our Opera-in-a-Box stage in Langford, Saanich, Victoria and Sidney.
• VIPG Spring Concert April 27, 29. Locations TBA
• VIPG Summer Fringe ‘Ordinary Days’, a four person-opera with featured performers. Locations TBA
• Fall Oratorio Project ‘Jephtha’ by Handel, November 2018.
Are you a pub or restaurant owner that can accommodate a group of talented singers and musicians? Rebekah is looking to collaborate with you about holding an open mic ‘Opera Theatre Night’.