Opera News

For Immediate Release
June 14, 2007

Manitoba Opera Receives Quarter Million Dollar Gift
for its New Opera, Transit of Venus, from the
Asper Foundation & Family

Manitoba Opera today announced that a contribution of $250,000 has been made by The Asper Foundation, Gail Asper & Michael Paterson, and Babs Asper towards the staging of the world premiere of the new opera, Transit of Venus, which will open the company’s 35th season in November, 2007. This is the second unprecedented $250,000 gift received by Manitoba Opera for Transit of Venus, the largest single sum from private contributions ever received by the organization. James Richardson & Sons, Limited made the first quarter million dollar contribution in January, 2007.

“Manitoba Opera is so very appreciative of the steadfast support and confidence of the Asper family and the Foundation in this company and our vision for opera in this community,” said Peter George, President of the Manitoba Opera Board of Directors. “This gift enables us to premiere a major new opera to celebrate our 35th season in 2007/08 and also indicates that leaders in our community believe in what we’re doing.”

“In commissioning the production of a brand new opera, Manitoba Opera is demonstrating a bold, entrepreneurial spirit that should be applauded and supported. New work for a company of this size is not an easy undertaking, but is extremely valuable to an arts organization’s life blood,” commented Gail Asper, Managing Director of The Asper Foundation. “Having attended opera all over the world, I can say unequivocally that Manitoba Opera consistently delivers first-rate productions of which this community should be proud. We are very pleased to support them in this new venture and hope that our gift will inspire others to lend their support as well.”

Transit of Venus is the first opera commissioned for main-stage production in the history of the company and is based on the internationally acclaimed play of the same name by Maureen Hunter, who is also the librettist. Composed by one of Canada’s outstanding composers, Winnipeg-born, Victor Davies, Transit of Venus is a three-act opera with full orchestra. It is a love story inspired by the real-life expeditions of 18th century astronomer, Guillaume le Gentil de la Galasière and explores the question of where we find God in the universe.

“I want to thank The Asper Foundation, Gail and Michael, and Babs for their generous support. With this gift, we have raised over $900,000 on a $1.2 million goal – a truly phenomenal achievement,” commented Larry Desrochers, General Director & CEO of Manitoba Opera. “When the curtain rises in November, the stars who helped bring this project to life will shine as brightly as those on stage.”

Celebrated Canadian baritone, Russell Braun, heads the all-star cast of internationally acclaimed artists who will be featured in Transit of Venus. The other soloists are mezzosoprano, Judith Forst (Madame Sylvie); mezzo-soprano, Jean Stilwell (Margot); soprano, Monica Huisman; and tenor, Colin Ainsworth (Demarais). Mr. Braun will sing the role of Le Gentil.

Transit of Venus will be performed November 24, 27, and 30, 2007 at the Centennial Concert Hall in Winnipeg. It will be sung in English with surtitles.

Subscriptions to the 2007/08 season, which also includes the enduring favourite, La Traviata, April 19, 22, and 25, 2008 and a mid-season concert event on March 1, 2008, are now on sale. Call 957-7842 to subscribe or to receive your free brochure.


Manitoba Opera – Darlene Ronald, (204)255-0508, dronald84@shaw.ca
The Asper Foundation/Family – Kim Jasper, (204)989-5525, kjasper@aspergroup.com

Room 1060, 555 Main Street, Wpg. R3B 1C3
(Lower Level, Centennial Concert Hall)
phone: 204.942.7479 | fax: 204.949.0377
e-mail: mbopera@manitobaopera.mb.ca
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