Calgary Concert Opera Company provides opportunity for singers

The Calgary Concert Opera Company was founded a year ago by Barbara King and Chris Gieck, and has been steadily growing.

The company provides a unique opportunity for classically-trained singers to gain real world experience in Canada.

“We started the company because in Calgary there aren’t many opportunities for singers to get experience and for them to perform in front of an audience,” King said.

“With our company, they can put it on their resume without having to travel and spend the money.”

Opera is a passion for co-founders King and Gieck, and they are trying to allow more people to experience the art.

“We’re trying to bring in a different kind of crowd to appreciate the opera. Everybody should be included and it needs to be accessible to everybody,” Gieck said.

In their most recent performance, the company collaborated with Opera by Request to perform an adaptation of “Romeo and Juliet,” called “I Capuleti Ed I Montecchi,” by Vincenzo Bellini.

It was performed in Calgary as well as in Okotoks, and Gieck said they are hoping to expand into more Canadian cities. Erin Armstrong(left) and Barb King(right) perform “I Capuleti Ed I Montecchi” – an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet.
Photo courtesy of: Iryna Photography

The company is different than other opera companies. Because it is concert format, it does not have as much costuming and theatrics as a full opera.

King said they want to take opera back to the basics.

“We have had such great feedback because people tend to forget about the simplicity of the music itself and they get caught up in the theatrics,” King said.

Erin Armstrong – who performed in the company’s latest performance – said that the company gives her an opportunity to do what she loves.

“We found something in the music that spoke to us. I want to share that passion with people,” Armstrong said.

John Conlon, who performed alongside Armstrong, said that in Canada it is tough to be a classical singer.

“There are few positions for a professional musician in this country, so you do whatever you have to do.”

epollock@cjournal.ca