Jacqueline Ko, Robin Eder-Warren.  Photo Machuca Photography
Jacqueline Ko.  Photo KathrynNickford

Robin Eder-Wwarren.  Photo: Michelle DohertyOpera Mariposa
The Butterfly

Dates and Venue 17 May 2014 | Marpole United Church, 1296 W 67th Ave, Vancouver

Jacqueline Ko, Soprano
Robin Eder-Warren, Soprano

Opera Mariposa might easily be called the little company that could. Independent theatre companies run by young actors looking to launch their careers or to produce work they find professionally challenging or interesting are relatively common. An opera company is another level of magnitude. Jacqueline Ko and Robin Eder-Warren have succeeded brilliantly, producing three well-received chamber operas and several recitals since 2012.

But this is not your workaday bring-your own-venue, put-on-your-own show company. Friday’s concert was a fund-raiser, not for their own company, but for the Complex Chronic Diseases Program at BC Women and Children's Hospital. Jacqueline Ko has suffered from Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome since childhood. Starting Opera Mariposa with her very best friend offered her a way to work professionally and manage her disease at the same time.

The concert featured a series of pieces from late-20th century Broadway shows, starting defiantly with Sondheim’s technically difficult rapid-fire patter song “Everybody says Don’t," sung with a sassy attitude and excellent diction. Sondheim’s songs made up a good proportion of the programme, which together with pieces from Frozen, Little Women , Les Miserables, Wicked and a number of others made an evening of top-notch show-tunes.

The thread holding the recital together was the story of the two founders of Opera Mariposa from an elementary-school friendship, through a shared enthusiasm for singing to the onset of a debilitating disease and its effects on both of them and their friendship. Careers and ambitions sent them first in different directions and then returned them home to start their big project together. At the heart of this journey lies a remarkable and enduring friendship. The songs chosen reflected the emotions of each chapter of the story, now rebellious, now wistful and playful, now angry, now unhappy, always passionate and passionately sung. Jacqueline Ko and Robin Eder-Warren belted out these songs with big, operatic voices and a heartfelt vibe, there was possibly not a dry eye in the house.

Angus Kellett on piano provided an unobtrusive, alert, accompaniment.

A big round of applause for such voices and such hearts.

© 2014 Elizabeth Paterson