Past Performances

Performance Schedule 2015

VIO’s 12th Full length production of

Bellini’s Norma


Saturday, October 24th at 7:30 PM
Sunday, October 25th at 2:30 PM


Civic Centre, Qualicum Beach

Norma is generally considered to be Vincenzo Bellini’s masterpiece. It is an important milestone in the history of opera, and the leading example of the bel canto genre. The soprano aria, Casta diva with its long flowing lines, is one of the most famous of the 19th Century.

With the principals and several supporting roles sung by young, upcoming operatic talent accompanied by orchestra, opera fans will, again, be assured of a rich production of splendid singing and action.

Our local operatic chorus, will support the principals with their talent, experience and dedication, to ensure an exciting performance worth attending.

Tickets purchased in advance $32. At the door $35

Tickets available at Cranky Dog Music, Parksville; Chocolates Plus, Qualicum Beach and Tom Lee Music, Nanaimo

We thank our sponsors:

Quality Foods
BMO/Nesbitt Burns
Trinex Internet Solutions

Norma Review Article

‘Without them I couldn’t do it,’ VIO director says

By Brad Bird
That big sigh of relief you just heard came from a large group of people, the ones who worked behind the scenes on Vancouver Island Opera’s latest offering, Norma. We staged Norma twice last weekend in Qualicum Beach, Oct. 24 and 25, and now the work is over.

But it was worth it. Check out this comment:

I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed the performance yesterday. I have seen many operas on stage and screen, and although many of them have undoubtedly been better sung, better staged, and better accompanied, I can’t say that I’ve derived more pleasure from any of them than I had from your presentation of this beautiful music. Indeed, I found myself more involved in the story-telling than I have in the opera houses of San Francisco and Seattle.The fact that it was all a labour of love, for the benefit of audiences of at most two or three hundred people, makes it all the more memorable. Cheers, and keep up the good work.

Peter Donnelly, Courtenay

There were others like it.

  • VIO’s artistic director, Tatiana Vasilieva is the reason VIO exists at all. Her passion, efforts and knowledge make the annual opera possible.
  • Behind her, though, is a large group of dedicated people. Their efforts, she says, contribute significantly to the annual production. These include VIO co-founder and president Hugh Sinnott, chorus director Carolyn Hately and accompanist Ruth Bard, the many chorus members, former VIO president Karen Stewart who designs and sews many of the costumes, scenery painter Micheline Mesner, and Karl Reiner, leader of the Nanaimo Chamber Orchestra who helped by preparing the string section.
  • In Vancouver are other helpers. Vasilieva’s son Nikolai Maloff coaches the soloists and plays piano accompaniment in their rehearsals. John Arsenault directs the orchestra.
  • “Without them I couldn’t do it,” says Vasilieva. Opera has been her passion since her youth, when she starred on the stages of Europe as a soprano in a variety of productions including Faust, La Boheme and Madama Butterfly.
  • She still gets over to Vancouver to assist with the weekly rehearsals of the soloists, and plays a key role in tickets, chorus practices and overseeing each facet of the operation.
  • Sixteen years ago Sinnott, a well-known Parksville tenor and businessman, hosted Vasilieva at his Parksville motel and together they came up with the idea of launching the VIO. “I met him when I came here on holidays,” Vasilieva said. “The whole idea started together with him.”
  • Like her, Sinnott seems to have a hand in practically everything. Besides being president he sings in the chorus, builds scenery, designs and distributes posters and the program, and keeps the entire group of about 25 current with emails.
  • Hately, a retired teacher, plays a critical role as director of the 19-member chorus. Like Sinnott, Hately has been there from the beginning. “Without her I couldn’t do it,” said Vasilieva. “She is wonderful as director of the chorus.”
  • Noreen Conway has sung with the VIO for 14 years. She says Hately is “superb” at shaping a group of volunteer amateurs into a respectable unit. “She doesn’t expect or demand any laurels for what she does. In fact she keeps out of the limelight,” Conway said. “I think she’s totally amazing and we wouldn’t have an opera without her.”
  • Bard, as well, plays a key role as accompanist and is much appreciated for her dedication and timely, helpful comments.
  • Stewart, who practices law by day, for years has devoted many of her autumn evenings to designing and sewing the many costumes worn by the soloists. She enjoys the work but whenever possible enlists assistance from other chorus members, since the job is a heavy one which often sees her burning the midnight oil.
  • Norma is a bel canto opera, “which means it is full of beautiful singing and melodies which Bellini is famous for,” says Vasilieva.
  • The story, set in Gaul about 50 B.C., is simple but tragic: A Druid priestess has broken her vows of chastity and had children with a Roman military man, who spurns her for a younger priestess. With war threatening, the pair pays the ultimate price for their sins.
  • “This is my 16th year with VIO and our 12th full-scale opera,” said Vasilieva. “The first three years were excerpts. Then we started doing full operas. I’m not getting any younger but my brain is working quite well!”
  • Among her helpers in Vancouver to rehearse the soloists is singer, clarinetist and orchestral director Arsenault, whom she has relied on for years. “He is a very talented man and we are lucky to have him.”
  • On a sadder note, the artistic director says Norma was dedicated to the memory of a beloved former chorus member, Lois Hayes, who died in August. The retired teacher was one of the original members whose keen wit and annual provision for chorus members of phonetic spellings of the foreign language being sung were much appreciated by all.
  • Learning music in another language is a challenge. For the local chorus, that challenge is over for another year, other than two coming weekends of singing in seniors’ homes. We wait and wonder what next year will bring.

Parksville Recital Series – 2015

All performances will take place at the McMillan Arts Centre at 3:00 pm

Isaac Bull, bassoon

Isaac Bull, bassoon

March 29, 2015

Isaac Bull began playing the bassoon at age 13 and went on to study at the University of British Columbia achieving his Masters of Music in 1993. Isaac has been a member of the Vancouver Opera orchestra since 1990 and has maintained an active music career performing over the years with virtually every orchestra in the province of B.C as well as in solo and chamber performances including a recording for the CBC radio program West coast Performance in 1994. Isaac is continuing his campaign to “play it forward” started in April 2014 to raise funds to send instruments and musical equipment to the students of the Orchestra of the Filipino Youth in Manila.

April 26, 2015

Joining Elise Boulanger will be Vancouver Island Opera’s Hugh Sinnott and together they will entertain with popular solos and duets from the world of opera accompanied by Nikolai Maloff
Elise Boulanger

Elise Boulanger recently graduated from the Victoria Conservatory of Music with a Diploma in Classical Voice under the direction of Ingrid Attrot and Nancy Argenta. In autumn of 2014 she debuted in the VIO’s production of Rigoletto. Other performances have included: John Duke’s Captain Lovelock, The Pacific Baroque Music Festival, working alongside the Pacific Baroque players with the St. John’s Chamber Singers, and singing for a recent Olympic ceremony. Elise’s deep love for art song has made her the recipient of many awards from music festivals around the province. She continues in the pursuit of classical music while expanding her collaborative relationships by working with electronic music producers from around the world.

Hugh Sinnott

Hugh Sinnott has spent many years on the stage mainly involving opera He has also enjoyed great success in musical theatre and also managed some concert work singing with the Victoria Civic Orchestra and Parksville community choir. He spent 13 years with Pacific Opera Victoria singing in the chorus and comprimarial rolls. Hugh is one of the founding members of Vancouver Island Opera and is still very actively involved . ‘Singing is what I love to do and opera is my first love'”

Nikolai Maloff, piano

Nikolai and Friends Piano Trio

An afternoon of chamber music
May 31st, 2015

Mr. Nikolai Maloff is the only Canadian pianist to win first prize at the prestigious Franz Liszt International Piano Competition in Italy, and is winner of many other competitions including the Eckhardt-Grammaté Piano Competition, the Young Keyboard Artist Association International Piano Competition and the Canadian Music Competitions. Mr. Maloff has appeared to resounding acclaim as soloist, recitalist, chamber musician, and collaborative musician in North America, Russia, Europe, and Latin America.

Previously a faculty member at institutions such as the University of British Columbia, the Royal Conservatory of Music, the Lima Conservatory of Music, the Arts Connection and the Euromusic Piano School, Dr. Maloff now focuses on his private studio in Richmond.

Li-Ling Liao

Li-Ling Liao was born in Taipei, Taiwan. Ms. Liao attended Ecole d’Humanite in Switzerland at the age of sixteen and studied violin with Daniel Dodds at the Lucerne Conservatory. She then went to North America and studied violin with Lynn Chang at the Boston Conservatory, and with Eric Rosenblith and James Buswell IV at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. Ms. Liao completed her studies at the University of Maryland, receiving her Doctoral of Musical Arts degree. Ms. Liao is currently assistant concertmaster of the Vancouver Metropolitan Orchestra and is a member of the first violin section of the Vancouver Island Symphony Orchestra.

Brian Mix

Brian Mix has been playing cello professionally in Vancouver since 1992. He has performed frequently with the Vancouver Symphony, as well as the CBC Radio orchestra, Vancouver Opera, the National Ballet, and other ensembles. Brian is also an active chamber musician and recitalist, appearing throughout the Lower Mainland and on Vancouver Island, Gulf Islands, the Sunshine Coast, and the interior of BC. Alongside performing, Brian writes about music and teaches. He has been on the faculties of Vancouver Community College, the North Shore Music Academy, and Kingston College. Brian received a Master of Music degree from UBC, and has also studied at the Banff Centre, the National Arts Centre, the University of Ottawa, and the University of Cincinnati.