Our History

Young People's Opera Society of BC

by YPOSBC · February 19, 2018

The Young People's Opera Society of BC was created in 2005 after several singing students complained that there were no opportunities for young people to sing and perform opera. Founder Patricia Dahlquist took on starting the society, gathering a strong and well-connected board, establishing provincial non-profit status and writing an opera for youth. Thus YPOSBC and The King Who Wouldn't Sing were born.

Dahlquist, a 50 year veteran of professional stage, screen, TV, recording and concert halls, and a teacher since 1978, was ready to produce something different for her students. "I wanted to provide an option to pop, rock and musical theatre. Opera incorporates singing, dancing and acting, and is undoubtedly the primogeniture of musical theatre. The music, however, is generally more complex and satisfying, unless of course you're singing Sondheim!"

After a workshop of The King Who Wouldn't Sing, the first three years were busy for librettist Dahlquist and composer George Austin. "Despite the birth pains, particularly with our second original opera, Spirit Moon, we were happy with what we created and satisfied that we fulfilled our mandate to produce opera for and with young people. Along the way we provided excellent vocal training and performance experience for our members," says Dahlquist.

Creating two original full-length pieces in three years with limited resources was a huge undertaking and would have been impossible if not for the society's intrepid Executive Director, Barbara Gould, and the hard-working board of directors.

In June 2015, co-Artistic Directors, husband and wife team of Debra DaVaughn and Christopher Simmons produced a 10th anniversary fundraising gala that was a highlight of the year. The concert portion was outstanding, featuring some of the lower mainland's best opera singers, while the silent auction raised a substantial amount for the society's contingency fund. Closing off the year in December, the YPOSBC singers collaborated with Dolores Scott's Panorama Children's Choir for a beautiful Christmas concert.

Over the course of its first ten years, the group attained a measurable level of success. YPOSBC has worked with hundreds of singers from age 8 to 80, engaged many musicians, enrolled eager parents, and delighted thousands of audience members, young and old alike. Society members have gone on to study and perform in major cities across Canada and the U.S., including Victoria, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto, New York, Los Angeles and Oklahoma.

Since its first years, the society has produced a variety of pieces appropriate for young performers and audiences, including: The Faerie Queene, Hansel and Gretel, Pandora's Box, a reprise of The King Who Wouldn't Sing, The Tinker of Tivoli (based on The Barber of Seville, with the music of Rossini), Robinson Crusoe in concert, Amahl and the Night Visitors by Gian Carlo Menotti, The Magic Flute by W.A. Mozart, and L'elisir d'amore (The Elixir of Love), a comic opera by Gaetano Donizetti, in addition to its annual Christmas productions. The organization has performed for the Surrey Food Bank and the Surrey Civic Treasures award ceremony, produced workshops for Kidsworld and sung for the Surrey Children's Festival and the Little Black Dress Gala, among other events.

Events on YPOSBC's busy 2016 roster included:

  • three vocal master classes (January, May and September);
  • a concert version of the Offenbach opera Robinson Crusoe, in April;
  • a performance at Surrey Sings! in April;
  • an opera singing/dancing/acting workshop for Kidsworld in July; and
  • a production of Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitors for Christmas.

In 2017, YPOSBC produced a variety of events:

  • two vocal master classes (January and August);
  • in June, staged Scenic Adventures - An Operatic Vacation; two concerts of opera favourites at the Surrey Arts Centre;
  • a series of fund-raising concerts during the summer months, featuring several YPOSBC singers;
  • in August, an opera workshop for Kidsworld, for 55 excited young people aged 5 to15;
  • in October, a benefit performance at The Little Black Dress Gala for Help Change My City, a Vancouver-based charity that provides mentorship to troubled and underprivileged youth;
  • also in October, a concert in support of the Langley Senior Resources Society; and
  • in December, The Gift, a reading of The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry, interspersed with traditional and non-traditional Christmas songs, at Bethany Newton United Church in Surrey, with an additional outreach concert for the Langley Senior Resources Society.

2018 and 2019 programming included a reprise of Amahl and the Night Visitors, a public performance at the annual Alexandra House Neighbourhood Festival, The Magic Flute by W.A. Mozart, and L'elisir d'amore (The Elixir of Love) - a comic opera by Gaetano Donizetti - in addition to its annual Christmas productions.

YPOSBC welcomes new members of all ages to sing, serve on the board of directors or volunteer for the production team. For more information email info@yposbc.org

Related Photos

Patricia Dahlquist
Patricia Dahlquist

YPOSBC Founder

George Austin
George Austin


Dolores Scott
Dolores Scott

Artistic Director