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Calgary Opera managing director and CEO Heather Kitchen.

Calgary Opera managing director and CEO Heather Kitchen. Wil Andruschak © Postmedia Network Inc.

Joel Schlesinger © Postmedia Network Inc.

Opera is for everyone. And at Calgary Opera, this spirit of openness is embodied in every one of its productions.

But perhaps its mission of bringing the art form to the people is best illustrated by its production of Nemorino and the Magic Potion.

“It’s a wonderful little project that is touring schools in southern Alberta,” says Heather Kitchen, managing director and chief executive officer of Calgary Opera.

The short comedy — based on Donizetti’s The Elixir of Love — has played a handful of elementary schools in the city this year and is part of the company’s ongoing efforts to connect with the next generation of opera fans.

But the mini-opera is about more than fostering a love of opera in Calgarians as young as age six.

“There are universal stories and themes in these stories told by opera,” she says. “So we really believe we’re connecting children to their humanity.”

The same can be said for the approximately 2,100 season ticket holders at Calgary Opera — now in its fifth decade — and many thousands more who will take in its productions, which, this year, include Rigoletto, Giuseppe Verdi’s masterpiece.

Taking the company’s artistic reins is Calgary Opera’s new artistic director, Bramwell Tovey, who took on the role in early 2019.

“Prior to that I had a long history with the company as a conductor and composer.”

But Tovey also has extensive experience working in major centres such as Los Angeles, Vancouver and Luxembourg. What drew him back to Calgary Opera, however, was its reputation for thinking outside the box while never forgetting opera’s roots.

“The fact that the company has supported and regularly presented new work alongside traditional classics of the repertoire has been its strength,” he adds.

Part and parcel to its innovative culture is the company’s commitment to the community.

What’s more is that Calgary Opera’s reputation within the city and abroad reflects the vibrancy of the city’s arts-and-culture scene.

“Every major international city has a professional opera company, and the prestige of the company is a very important ingredient in the city’s reputation,” Tovey says.

Calgary Opera and the city itself are no exception.

This feature was created by Content Works, Postmedia’s commercial content division, on behalf of Calgary Economic Development.

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