Manitoba Opera

Dec 16, 2021

Maria Rodil joins Staff Team

Maria Rodil joined the administrative team last month in a newly created position. She is the Executive Assistant and will provide administrative and research support to the General Director & CEO and the Director of Operations, as well as mange monthly board, committee, and staff meetings.

Maria and her husband and children emigrated from Saudi Arabia this summer to make a new life in Winnipeg. Although born and raised in the Philippines, Maria lived in Saudi for 11 years prior to her move to Canada. During that time, she was an executive assistant for a variety of executives, directors, and advisors including prominent Royal family members.

“As an executive assistant to leaders of various companies, I was responsible for managing their time, providing full administration support, communicating with people around the globe, researching and handling information, and arranging logistics,” Maria explains. “I supported small teams and large firms from a government-funded program for biotechnology start-ups, to large franchise retail firms and family investment offices.”

With encouragement from her father, who was a broadcast journalist, Maria completed her bachelor’s degree in Development Communication at the University of Philippines in Los Banos. During that time, she also led organizations, managed events, and fundraised for dance and pageant competitions held at the university.

“I used to be my father’s sidekick in his radio program,” said Maria. “Connecting with people is what I love to do.”

Maria is looking forward to applying her skills and experience to her work as part of the Manitoba Opera admin team.

“I am excited to join the staff at Manitoba Opera. Everyone is passionate about the arts, and as I am new to Winnipeg and the arts, this will be a great way to get to know the city and the people,” she added. “I am also looking forward to learning more about the positive social impact that opera and the arts can have on a community.”

When not working, Maria, who is a busy mother of three, likes to find time to play with her children, listen to music, read, and improve her self-development and investment knowledge.

Welcome to Manitoba Opera and to Winnipeg, Maria!

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Oct 28, 2021

Manitoba Opera Opens 2021/22 Season with Mainstage Premieres of Two One-Act Operas | November 5 & 6

Manitoba Opera (MO) opens the 2021/22 season with a return to the stage to present two performances of two one-act operas: The Telephone and La voix humaine on Friday and Saturday, November 5 and 6 at the Centennial Concert Hall. The performances will mark the company’s first time back to live performances with live audiences since November 2019. Tickets are on sale now at or by calling 204-944-8824.

Please Note: Centennial Concert Hall COVID 19 protocols will be followed at these performances. For details go to

The Telephone and La voix humaine (The Human Voice) tell very different stories; one is a charming romantic comedy and the other a gripping drama. However, they both explore the effects of technology in our lives and the importance of human connection.

Both operas will be directed by Winnipegger Jacqueline Loewen in her MO directing debut and conducted by Naomi Woo, Assistant Conductor, Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, also in her MO debut.

These semi-staged works will feature the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra on stage.

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Sep 29, 2021

Judith Chambers begins First Term as Board Chair

Judith Chambers has begun her first term as chair of the board of trustees. She succeeds Elba Haid who held the position for five years.

“I want to thank Elba for the phenomenal job she did as Chair, including staying on an extra year. She’s worked tirelessly for Manitoba Opera, both as board member and as chair, giving generously of her time and her financial resources,” commented Larry Desrochers, General Director & CEO.  “She is one of those rare leaders who is ambassador, an advocate, and yes, an asker.  We are so fortunate that she will be taking a very active role in the upcoming endowment campaign.

I’m looking forward to working with Judith over the next few years as she takes on the role of Chair. I know Judith will lead Manitoba Opera with a deep commitment to the company and a love for the art form – feelings that are shared by so many in the community.”

Judith Chambers, B. Commerce, CFP, TEP, CEA

Judith Chambers has been with TD Wealth Private Wealth Management for almost 10 years. Her career spans over 30 years in the financial services industry with the last 20 in the area of wealth management where she works exclusively with high net-worth individuals and families.

Ms. Chambers holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree and her Certified Financial Planner, Trust and Estate Practitioner, and Certified Executor Advisor designations. She is looking forward to completing her MBA at Dalhousie University in the spring of 2022.

Community work has included roles with the national board of the Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada; past Cabinet Chair of the local Children’s Wish Foundation Advisory Board; active participant in community events with the United Way, Canadian Museum for Human Rights, JDRF, and YM/YWCA of Winnipeg; and The Nellie McClung Foundation board member.

“In my role as Chair, I am committed to carrying on the work that has begun to ensure the long-term sustainability of Manitoba Opera through building legacy financial resources, an inclusive and diverse community, and board and artistic engagement,” commented Ms. Chambers.

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Sep 27, 2021


Elba Haid, Outgoing Chair of the Board of Trustees for Manitoba Opera (MO), announced today that the company has renewed the contract for Larry Desrochers, General Director & CEO, for another five years – expiring May 31, 2026. Desrochers has been at the helm of Manitoba’s only full-time professional opera company since 2000. He is currently Canada’s longest-serving general director and one of the longest-serving general directors in North America.

“As chair of the board these past five seasons, it has been my deepest pleasure to have worked with Larry on so many important initiatives for the company. His unfailing leadership and collaborative spirit have resulted in a vibrant opera company for this community. The strides we have made would not have been possible without him,” commented Haid. “And as we lay the groundwork for the launch of an endowment campaign, the leadership stability that we will continue to have with Larry at the helm will most certainly factor into the community’s response.”

During his tenure, Desrochers instituted strong governance practices for the board, increased staff, professionalized administrative practices, and increased fundraising. Following a long period of fiscal challenges for Manitoba Opera, he posted 12 consecutive balanced budgets, a feat not previously achieved in the company’s history. Recently, he led a successful campaign to eliminate the decades-old debt. He has enhanced the company’s artistic integrity, developed local and Canadian artists, and fostered community relevance through new educational and civic practice programs.

His own creative output has resulted in some of the most important work that Manitoba Opera has undertaken, including the commission of MO’s first new opera, Transit of Venus in 2007, for which he served as dramaturg and director. His ground-breaking production of Fidelio connected the opera’s themes of oppression to stories of real-life political prisoners and to local refugees. La Liberte called Fidelio “perhaps the most important opera in the history of the company.” Opera Canada recently chose Fidelio as MO’s opera of the decade.

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Jul 23, 2021

Manitoba Opera Returns to the Stage With Mainstage Premieres of Two One-Act Operas and Family Favourite La Cenerentola (Cinderella) in 2021/22 Season

In its 49th season, Manitoba Opera (MO) returns to the stage to present two one-act operas: The Telephone and La Voix Humaine in November and a family favourite, La Cenerentola (Cinderella) – pronounced La Chen-erentola – in April. The productions will mark Manitoba Opera’s first return to live performance at the Centennial Concert Hall since November 2019. All live programming was cancelled at the Centennial Concert Hall when the COVID-19 pandemic struck in March 2020.

“Everyone associated with Manitoba Opera – the board of trustees, staff, the artists, crew, and patrons -are so excited at the prospect of our return to the stage with a live audience. We have all missed sharing an artistic experience together, and we can’t wait for that curtain to rise once again,” commented Larry Desrochers, General Director & CEO.

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Jun 1, 2021

Manitoba Opera Closes 2021/22 Season with launch of The Solo Sessions Video Series

A Cinematic Showcase of Manitoba Talent

Manitoba Opera closes the 2021/22 Season with a five-episode cinematic series celebrating the breadth of Manitoba’s musical talent. From Mozart to Marvin Gaye, The Solo Sessions presents a virtual buffet of musical treats from opera, musical theatre, art song, folk, and popular music interpreted by five exciting singers and talented musicians. The videos are available to view anytime on Vimeo on Demand for $31.50 (just $6.30 per episode!) beginning June 1 at 1pm CST.  Go to for more information.

The series, designed and directed by award-winning Winnipeg filmmaker Deco Dawson, was recently shot on the stage of the company’s mainstage production venue, the Centennial Concert Hall in Winnipeg.  Featured vocalists are Lisa Bell, Lizzy Hoyt, Aaron Hutton, James McLennan, and Stephanie Sy.

“The Solo Sessions was a unique opportunity for Manitoba Opera to bring together a wide range of exciting Winnipeg artists and present them in a very different way from our normal productions or concerts,” commented Larry Desrochers, General Director & CEO. “The singers’ distinctive musical styles combined with director Deco Dawson’s insight and vision has resulted in a series that is fresh, eclectic,  and features performances that merge beautiful singing with music video, film, and theatre. With video on demand viewing, we will provide programming for our existing patrons, but also hope to reach new audiences as well.”

This is the first time that Manitoba Opera has collaborated with the filmmaker who has worked in both theatre and film for nearly two decades. Dawson’s 15 short films have garnered numerous awards worldwide including a two-time win of the Best Short Film Award from the Toronto International Film Festival for his films Keep a Modest Head and FILM(dzama). The New York Times described his latest work on Broadway as “jaw dropping.”

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May 7, 2021

Manitoba Opera Announces Second Digital Emerging Artists Program To Be Held This August

Applications are now being accepted for Manitoba Opera’s second Digital Emerging Artists Program (DEAP) which will be held August 3-27, 2021. This four-week intensive online professional development program is open to emerging operatic artists between the ages of 18 to 35. Four participants will be selected to hone their artistic skills while developing the tools necessary to create online content.

“The past year has shown that artists who are equipped to collaborate and perform in digital spaces or for distanced audiences are increasingly better positioned for success,” says Larry Desrochers, General Director & CEO.

“We are grateful to RBC Foundation and The Gail Asper Family Foundation for their support of the Digital Emerging Artists Program, which not only helps to ensure that the rising stars of Canada’s opera scene are prepared for a rapidly changing industry, but also provides earning opportunities for Canadian artists and arts professionals at a time when traditional revenue streams have all but evaporated.”

The core faculty from last year’s first DEAP are returning for this year’s program. They are four widely acclaimed professional singers/instructors: sopranos Tracy Dahl and Monica Huisman; mezzo-soprano Marion Newman; and tenor John Tessier. These artists will be joined by a stellar roster of coaches and guest teaching artists including directors Ann Hodges and Katherine Twaddle; pianist and vocal coach Michael McMahon; life coach Rebecca Hass; and web designer/videographer Stephen Bell.

The core faculty will be curating four weeks’ worth of daily educational and professional development activities for participants. These activities will include masterclasses and workshops on topics such as diction, audio and video production, acting for the camera, and career development. Additionally, each participant will leave the program with a professionally recorded video to be used to help launch the next phase of their careers.

“I have never been part of a program where the range of topics covered was so wide. Living in our digital age, and especially with current gathering restrictions, having the skills to create digital content is vital to maintaining artistic outlets for both artists and companies. Having the chance to explore some of those possibilities through this program was very valuable,” commented Lizzy Hoyt, 2020 DEAP participant.

To apply and for more information, go to

Supported by
RBC Foundation and
The Gail Asper Family Foundation

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Mar 12, 2021

Manitoba Opera presents The Barber of Seville as styled by Al Simmons

Comedy & Close Shaves Free Streaming on Demand
March 20-28

Figaro! Figaro! Figaro! In need of a few laughs? It’s the world’s most famous barber to the rescue, courtesy of Manitoba’s most famous comedian of invention, Al Simmons. Manitoba Opera is pleased to be presenting a digital version of The Barber of Seville as styled by Al Simmons which will be available to stream on demand for free at from March 20 to 28.

Roll over Rossini! Al has translated the story of this popular comic opera from Italian to English and condensed Rossini’s comical look at love, greed, deceit, and close shaves. In this 45-minute rendition of the madcap comedy, Al plays all 10 characters and even audience members!

“I love to sing and tell stories; I also love opera and The Barber of Seville is one of my favourites. In this adaptation of my school show, I portray all of the main characters in the opera, plus I now take on the role of numerous other eccentrics. Most importantly, I sit in the audience and occasionally make comments about what’s going on onstage!” explains Al. “Thanks to the magic of video, my characters are able to interact with each other. I’m very proud of how this has turned out and hope Rossini (the composer) would appreciate my take on it.”

Commissioned by Manitoba Opera in 2009 for in-school presentations, Al has performed his one-person show, to rave reviews, for thousands of students in schools all across the province for over a decade.

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Jan 29, 2021


Saturday, February 6

See the Movie Based on the International Best-Selling Novel
Available for viewing any time between 12:01am and 11:59pm February 6
Can be viewed on computer, tablet, smartphone, or internet-connected TV

To Watch the Movie Online: Register at by noon on Friday, February 5

Join the Zoom Discussion about the Film: Saturday, February 6, 3 pm
Led by Alison Gillmor, Winnipeg Free Press pop culture columnist.

PLOT:  Released in 2018, this film is based on the best-selling novel by Ann Patchett.
Bel Canto is s dramatic love story. It follows a famous American soprano (Julianne Moore with singing by Renée Fleming) who travels to a military dictatorship in South America to give a private concert at a party for a wealthy Japanese industrialist (Ken Watanabe). She and the other guests are taken hostage.

RUNNING TIME: One hour, 40 minutes
RATING: Suggested for audiences 14A; contains scenes of violence

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Jan 7, 2021

Former Winnipegger’s career hits new high note – WFP

“When locally born director Michael Cavanagh packs his bag for Stockholm next summer, he’ll be living out his dreams while marking a major career milestone.

Now based in London, Ont., the 59-year-old artist, who grew up in River Heights, has recently been appointed the new artistic director for the venerable 248-year old Royal Swedish Opera (RSO), regarded as one of the world’s greatest opera houses.

“It’s a huge honour and I just feel so much gratitude, and also this enormous sense of responsibility for this job, which is really fantastic,” says the effervescent director, who assumes the reins from retiring artistic director and CEO Birgitta Svendén this August for a  five-year tenure.

“It’s not just a national opera company, but it’s a royal opera company with all this incredible history,” he says, anticipating the opportunity to put his own creative stamp on what he calls this “big, beautifully run organization.”

As one of Canada’s most sought-after directors, the prolific Cavanagh has helmed more than 150 productions at more than 30 companies across North America and parts of Europe, including Vancouver Opera, San Francisco Opera, L’Opera de Montreal, Kansas City Opera, Opera Philadelphia, and naturally, Manitoba Opera, as well as serving as artistic director for Edmonton Opera between 1998 and 2001.”

Click here to read the full Winnipeg Free Press article.

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