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Calgary Philharmonic, Opera cancel scheduled shows for the fall season

Art fans won’t be able to enjoy the Calgary Philharmonic and the Calgary Opera like they once did, but both organizations are working on new ways to deliver shows in this absence.

The orchestra cancelled more than 35 concerts scheduled from September to December this year. This includes education, outreach shows and open rehearsals. As well, they are cancelling performances with the Calgary Opera and Alberta Ballet at the Jubilee Auditorium.

Any repertoire with the Philharmonic Chorus is being replaced by the Calgary Philharmonic at other concerts next year. They will find new ways to engage the show during that time. This includes Mozart’s Requiem in early March and Vaughan Williams’ A Sea Symphony at the end of April.

The Calgary Opera is shifting all live events scheduled for the 2020-21 season to the year after in 2021-22. This includes Fidelio, The Merry Widow, La Traviata, Christmas at the Opera among others.

While they cannot move performances online, they’re working on creating new shows for both live and online delivery.

The Philharmonic plans to reinvent fall performances to fit within health and safety guidelines. The orchestra aims to return to regular concerts in January 2021.

The Opera said it’s impossible for them to continue scheduled performances in an online setting. They are working on new performances where they can adhere to the changes and regulations.

Adapting to the changes

Paul Dornian, president and CEO of the Philharmonic, said the orchestra is encouraged by the progress made in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

However, they have to adapt to different methods as the province is opening up.

“Arts groups like ours are facing the reality that we won’t be able to enjoy a full house in our venues for some time,” he said.

 “We remain committed to performing music for our community, but for now we need to change the way we present it.”

Calgary Opera Artistic Director Bramwell Tovey said they have been heartened by the care that has been demonstrated.

“It is truly in times like these that the importance of community cannot be overstated.”

The Philharmonic’s decision came from the recommendations of the government and public health officials. They also worked with policies at Jack Singer concert hall on physical distancing, large gatherings and non-essential travel.

The Opera said they received expert advice on the risks inherent in presenting opera in the absence of a viable treatment or vaccine. They’ve worked over the past three months to find solutions.

Dornian said when the concert hall shut down in March, they began planning for a return that prioritized health and well-being.

“When the time is right to bring the full Orchestra back onstage and welcome a full house back into the concert hall, we’ll be ready. Until then, we’ll continue to find other ways to keep the music playing.”

Details will come soon on how the shows will be delivered.

Those who purchased tickets to the Philharmonic concerts will have the full value returned through refund or a credit.

The Calgary Opera is moving all ticket purchases for this season to be applied next year. Customers can also request a refund or a credit.