Pacific Opera Victoria’s next production, Flight, is based on the true story of a refugee who lived in an airport for 18 years. (Photo courtesy Pacific Opera Victoria)

Next Pacific Opera production tells a refugee’s airport tale

Flight is spicy and complex, with a scintillating score by Jonathan Dove

Pacific Opera Victoria has built a loyal audience for its annual three-opera seasons of much-loved classics and exciting contemporary productions.

This season’s 20th-century offering from POV is Jonathan Dove’s timely, darkly comedic and moving modern opera, Flight, which makes its Canadian premiere at the Royal Theatre with four performances between Feb. 20 to March 1.

British composer Dove collaborated with theatre-inspired librettist April de Angelis to create Flight from a true story of Iranian refugee Karimi Nasseri, 18 years stranded in a Paris airport. The opera premiered in 1999. Steven Spielberg partly based his film, The Terminal with Tom Hanks, on the same story. Dove has also written “Airport Scenes,” an orchestral suite inspired by his opera. It premiered in 2006.

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POV artistic director Timothy Vernon chose the Canadian team of director Morris Panych and set director Ken McDonald to stage Dove’s playful, sometimes risqueé story of travellers and airport workers grounded overnight by a violent storm, and their contact with a refugee stuck in the airport. Panych and McDonald teamed up in 2016 for Pacific Opera’s acclaimed production of The Barber of Seville.

“I chose Morris to direct Flight because he has such a good grasp of contemporary theatre,” Vernon says. “It’s a great story, a very touching story. There’s lots of sex in it, and there is also a deeper, more sinister undertow regarding the plight of the refugee.”

Flight will appeal to a broad demographic, he adds, but especially a younger audience.

“It’s a modern musical idiom with lots of tricky rhythms, but it’s not atonal – it’s a very popular contemporary opera. Seattle is going to stage Flight next year, but this is the Canadian premiere. I’m very proud of that.”

Sung in English with English surtitles of the libretto above the stage at the Royal, Flight will be performed by a 10-member cast in three acts, with two 15-minute intermissions. Local musician and educator Robert Holliston provides astute introductions to the opera with his pre-performance talks, one hour before each show.

Flight is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 20, Saturday, Feb. 22 and Friday, Feb. 28, all at 8 p.m.; and a Sunday matinee takes off March 1 at 2:30 p.m. Visit pacificopera.ca or rmts.bc.ca for tickets or more information, or call the box office at 250-386-6121.



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