Pauline Johnson Opera by Margaret Atwood

Add a Comment by Rebecca Bollwitt

City Opera Vancouver presents the world premiere of PAULINE, a chamber opera about Canadian writer-actress Pauline Johnson, with libretto by acclaimed Canadian author Margaret Atwood and music by Tobin Stokes. Tickets are on sale today for this highly-anticipated production that is sure to sell out.


I can hardly contain my excitement about this opera as it brings together two of the most influential Canadian female writers I have ever had the pleasure of studying. Not only is Pauline Johnson one of the main reasons I began documenting local history over 10 years ago on my blog, but now her story will be told thanks to the words of writer Margaret Atwood, a Companion of the Order of Canada and recipient of over 55 awards in Canada and around the world. I have been a fan of local opera productions since I saw Eugene Onegin back in 2008 and I can’t wait to see how this will come to life.

Pauline Johnson Important woman in Vancouver history

Pauline Johnson Opera by Margaret Atwood

The opera will star Rose-Ellen Nichols, as Pauline Johnson, Sarah Vardy, as Eva Johnson and Ken Lavigne as the tenor. PAULINE also features John Minágro, Edward Moran, Diane Speirs, Eleonora Higginson, and Cathleen Gingrich.

Pauline Johnson (1861-1913) traveled through North America and Great Britain giving readings of her own work during a time when such independence for women was rare and remarkable. The child of a Mohawk chief and a Quaker Englishwoman, Pauline was driven toward paradoxical goals of loyalty to both of her cultures and to her own ambition.

PAULINE is set at Vancouver in March 1913. Pauline is dying of breast cancer, and views her life through the fog of morphine. Torn by dual identity as both Mohawk and white, she confronts her past as her doctor tries to control her pain and her sister tries to control the story that will be told.

Opening Night Gala tickets are $100, which includes a $60 ticket to PAULINE and an invitation to a reception with special guests Ms. Atwood and Mr. Stokes, and the stars of PAULINE. Performance-only tickets are $60, $40, and $22 for those holding student IDs. Tickets are only available through The Cultch online, by phone (604) 251-1363, or in person at the box office located at 1895 Venables at Victoria Drive.

The opera will take place at the York Theatre, 639 Commercial Drive at East Georgia) on Friday, May 23rd at 8:00pm (world premiere); Sunday, May 25th at 2:00pm; Tuesday May 27th at 8:00pm; Thursday May 29th at 8:00pm; and Saturday May 31st at 8:00pm. The first performance at the York Theatre on May 23, 2014 will be celebrated with a gala attended by Ms. Atwood and Mr. Stokes.

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