Timothy Vernon New Artistic Director of Opera Lyra: Renowned conductor begins immediately

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Timothy Vernon will bring a lifetime of opera success to audiences in the National Capital. His outstanding productions and innovations have won ovations across Canada and the world. What a musical coup for all of us!”  – Victor Rabinovitch
Victor Rabinovitch, Chair of the Board of Opera Lyra, and John Peter Jeffries, General Director of Opera Lyra, announced today that Timothy Vernon has been appointed new Artistic Director of Opera Lyra, starting immediately with the 2015-2016 season. Maestro Vernon is one of the leading figures of the Canadian operatic scene and brings to Opera Lyra an exciting new artistic vision for the future of the art form in Ottawa.
“I am fully committed to Opera Lyra. As a conductor, I am very excited to work with the National Arts Centre Orchestra, that glorious orchestra.  As Artistic Director, I can’t wait to present opera with guts and imagination to Canada’s Capital.” – Timothy Vernon
In his first appearance as Artistic Director, Timothy Vernon will attend Opera Lyra’s annual Garden Party hosted by His Excellency Gian Lorenzo Cornado, the Italian Ambassador to Canada at his residence on Tuesday, July 7, 2015 at 6 pm. Vernon will continue to maintain his position as Artistic Director at Pacific Opera Victoria, where he has assembled and led many of its more than 105 productions since the company’s inception.
 “Our capital city certainly deserves an opera company that extends beyond regional interest; I am thrilled to be given this opportunity to apply what I may have learned about building a company – and a community around it – in a milieu so full of promise and potential,” said Vernon about his new challenge. “I believe Opera Lyra to be a natural home and showcase for talented Canadians in every aspect of opera production. I look forward eagerly to working to expand the circle of opera-lovers who believe strongly in the vital role our arts have to play in fostering a vibrant, creative, forward-looking and finally humane society, and who want to ensure that Opera Lyra remains a key player in our cultural life.”
Timothy Vernon will take the podium in Ottawa when he conducts Opera Lyra’s second major opera of the 2015-2016 season Fidelio (March 19-26). “Fidelio is a favourite of mine. It Is Beethoven’s visionary piece and full of incredible atmosphere.  It lifts your heart and spirits.  The story is celebratory, it’s universal. It’s not necessary to set it in any period.”Opera Lyra’s 31st season opens with The Barber of Seville on September 26. In October the company presents two new operas by young Canadian composers, Etiquette and Regina, in collaboration with Toronto’s Essential Opera. The season closes with Haydn’s charmingL’Isola disabitata featuring the Opera Lyra Studio members along with Ottawa’s Thirteen Strings, conducted by Kevin Mallon.
The National Arts Centre was pleased to participate in the rigorous search process which attracted a strong field of candidates.  We are delighted that Timothy Vernon, with his remarkable leadership skills and opera expertise, has accepted the post.”- Christopher Deacon
Maestro Vernon was selected following an extensive international search that considered applications from talented artists from across Canada and beyond.  The Search Committee was chaired by General Director, John Peter Jeffries, and included three members of the Opera Lyra Board, Victor Rabinovitch and Directors John Coleman and Mary Frances Taylor, as well as two prominent members of the Ottawa musical community:  Managing Director of the National Arts Centre Orchestra Christopher Deacon and Conductor and Music Director of the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra David Currie.  “Opera Lyra is grateful to Interim Artistic Director Kevin Mallon who laid much of the ground work for Opera Lyra’s 2015-16 season and brought the company interesting new artistic endeavours.  He’s opened many doors.” said John Peter Jeffries.

 Biography: Timothy Vernon

Timothy Vernon is considered one of Canada’s most prominent conductors, praised for his commitment to and vision of opera excellence in this country. As the founding Artistic Director of Pacific Opera Victoria, Maestro Vernon has led most of its more than 105 productions of 70 works – a repertoire that ranges from Handel to Berg and Britten, including Mozart, Verdi, Puccini and Wagner. He has led productions for Opera Lyra (Die Zauberflöte and Faust), l’Opéra de Montréal, Edmonton Opera, Calgary Opera, Opéra de Québec, among others. Also active on the concert stage, Maestro Vernon is a welcome guest conductor for some of Canada’s finest orchestras:  Vancouver Symphony, Edmonton Symphony, l’Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, Calgary Philharmonic, Toronto Symphony, and the National Arts Centre Orchestra for a Gala concert that was broadcast on CBC and filmed for worldwide distribution.
A dedicated pedagogue, Maestro Vernon served as artistic director of the Courtenay Youth Music Centre and was professor at McGill University where he conducted the McGill Symphony taking it to the National Arts Centre, Le Grand Théâtre de Québec, Montréal’s Place des Arts, Lincoln Center, and Carnegie Hall. A multi-year cycle of Gustav Mahler’s works was particularly acclaimed, and the orchestra’s live Carnegie recording of Korngold’s Symphony in F-sharp (Polygram label) earned a JUNO nomination.
In February 2008, Vernon was presented with the Order of Canada in recognition of his work in expanding professional opera in Canada and his commitment to young musicians. Vernon is also a recipient of Opera Canada’s prestigious Ruby Award, Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, and an honorary degree from Royal Roads University in recognition of his strong leadership in and contributions to Canada’s cultural scene. More information on Timothy Vernon

Background: Opera Lyra

Founded in 1984 by soprano Diana Gilchrist, Opera Lyra has developed into one of the largest independent performing arts organizations in the National Capital Region, and a highly respected regional opera company with a strong reputation for showcasing young Canadian singers, many of whom have gone on to make major careers on the international opera stage.  Opera Lyra also has a wide range of educational and community outreach programs and in 2005 created the Opera Studio Program, offering aspiring Canadian singers a blend of intensive professional instruction and practical performance experience.  Following its near-demise in 2011 when accumulated financial commitments threatened to hinder the company’s operations, the company continues to rebuild itself under the careful management of veteran opera manager John Peter (Jeep) Jeffries new Chair Victor Rabinovitch, a dedicated and enthusiastic board of directors and staff.  As Opera Lyra nears the conclusion of its third decade, there are many past accomplishments of which Ottawa can be justly proud and the promises of many more to look forward to. More information on Opera Lyra and the Garden Party.

Contact Information

Sheilagh D’Arcy McGee
Media Relations/Relations avec la Presse
Opera Lyra Ottawa/l’Opéra Lyra d’OttawaE-mail/Courriel: [email protected]operalyra.caTel./Tél: 819-918-7443 

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