Vancouver Island Performance Guild Singers
Arts & Culture, Feature Stories

Singing Their Hearts Out —For You!

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West Shore
Culture

Singing Their Hearts Out —For You!

VANCOUVER ISLAND PERFORMERS GUILD

With Rebekah Janzen,
By Anne Marie Moro

Photo credit by Katya De Lancie

Performance Guild Martha cast
VIPG celebrates after production of ‘Martha: Unadorned’. From left to right: Jonathan Woodward, Jeremy Notheisz, Cheryl Pocklington Wilson, Rebekah Janzen, Aya Robertson, Kyron Basu and Kailey McKenzie.

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.

For more concert details visit: www.vipguild.ca or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/vipguild/. If you are interested in auditioning, contact: info@vipguild.ca.

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’.

What is an Opera-in-a-box?

Opera-in-a box takes a full-scale opera or musical and reduces it to a handful of performers on a near bare stage, with limited props or set, relying on the talent of the performers to tell a great story.

Perhaps for the first time, VIPG founders have created a variation of the established Opera-in-a box model, one that encourages audience participation. So, whether you become an active participant in the drama or sit back to watch it unfold, you can be sure you will leave feeling like you’ve had an experience like no other!

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