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Opera Nanaimo to perform winter show at Knox United Church in Parksville

Co-chairs see Dec. 18 production as ‘hello’ to mid-Island communities
Shante van Horlick, left, and Andrea Rodall will both perform in Opera Nanaimo’s ‘Winter Wonders’ show at Knox United Church in Parksville on Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021. (Submitted photos)

A live opera performance group will debut in Parksville this month to celebrate the snowy season.

On Saturday, Dec. 18, Opera Nanaimo will perform their Winter Wonders show at the Knox United Church in Parksville.

David Gibbons, Opera Nanaimo Society co-chair, said the performance will have a “friendly winter concert environment” feel, rather than a full operatic experience.

“From the operatic selections, there’s definitely going to be a celebration of some of the most wintery operas in the repertoire. We’ve got some beautiful art songs from several different languages - Swedish and German - that are also winter classics. And then, of course, there’s going to be a healthy smattering of the holiday favourites that classical singers and audiences have been singing and listening to for years,” he said.

“The show, itself, is also our way of saying ‘hello’ to the community,” said Shante van Horlick, Opera Nanaimo Society co-chair.

READ MORE: Parksville costumer working for Opera Nanaimo

Horlick said the performance will be more intimate and offer more audience engagement than a typical operatic experience. The performers will offer explanations about the pieces and why it is important to have sung them, especially for the pieces not in English.

She said the society’s aim is to make opera a more accessible experience.

“I know that there can be some stigma around opera, but we’re wanting to break all those barriers and show that opera really is fun and that people can have a really heartwarming and heart-opening experience,” she said.

The audience for the Dec. 18 performance can expect to see six Opera Nanaimo singers on stage; Michael Mackinnon, Libby Donald, Hayley Crittenden and both co-chairs, Gibbons and Horlick.

Patricia Plumley will join them for the first time as a collaborative pianist.

Although the group is based out of Nanaimo, Horlick hopes that doesn’t limit the society in reaching out to and collaborating with as many mid-Island performing arts societies as possible.

READ MORE: Parksville opera singer brings old-world styles to Vancouver Island

“We are really passionate about keeping music alive. And specifically opera and live theatre in the Nanaimo and mid-Island area,” she said.

Gibbons is just as eager to build relationships with other arts groups for the primary purpose of producing and performing appealing operatic works for all music lovers.

“We certainly want to connect with everyone in that demographic, as well as nurture all the music societies in that realm,” he said.

As a non-profit organization, all donations made to the society go toward future show productions and keeping the society afloat.

Gibbons said the society will also be looking for new singers and plans to hold auditions in the new year to see “how much talent is hiding in the mid-Island area.”

For 2022, Opera Nanaimo will put together a Gilbert and Sullivan highlights production in the spring, which Gibbons described as a “whole pile of fun during a lovely night of comedy and light opera.”

Tickets for Saturday’s Winter Wonder performance can be purchased online at, or through retail outlets Close To You Fashion Boutique and Fireside Books in Parksville.

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Mandy Moraes

About the Author: Mandy Moraes

I joined Black Press Media in 2020 as a multimedia reporter for the Parksville Qualicum Beach News, and transferred to the News Bulletin in 2022
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