Violinist Ellen Farrugia is a longtime member of Vancouver Opera Orchestra. (Photo: Tom Zillich)

Surrey violinist notable for nearly 25 years of Vancouver Opera gigs

Next up for Ellen Farrugia is ‘The Barber of Seville’ – the score Bugs Bunny helped popularize

When Vancouver Opera stages The Barber of Seville starting Thursday, Feb. 13, Surrey’s Ellen Farrugia will again bow her violin in yet another such production involving her over the past 24 years.

The Central City-area resident has been with Vancouver Opera Orchestra since 1996, after eight years with the Canadian Opera Company, and has more than 100 opera productions to her credit.

Farrugia said she still enjoys performing “the universal language of music” with talented colleagues that include fellow Surrey resident and chorus member Chris Garcia, another longtime member of the Vancouver Opera team.

For the four-show run of Rossini’s comic classic at Vancouver’s Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Farrugia is especially excited to see what the director, Ashlie Corcoran, has staged.

“Ashlie is a Semiahmoo Secondary grad, where my husband Greg used to teach band, and is now the head of the Arts Club Theatre Company – yay, Surrey!” Farrugia told the Now-Leader.

• RELATED STORY, from Feb. 4: Arts Club to bring ‘Every Brilliant Thing’ to Surrey, plus two other plays on tour.

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When not playing violin, Farrugia is the board chair of Surrey City Orchestra.

The Barber of Seville combines antics involving theft, secret notes, disguises and bribery, all in the pursuit of true love alongside memorable melodies. At the QE, Edward Nelson makes his Vancouver Opera debut in the role of Figaro assisting Count Almaviva (tenor Isaiah Bell) in his pursuit of Rosina (mezzo-soprano Julie Boulianne).

“Like everyone my age, I first heard the famous music of ‘Barber’ watching Bugs Bunny,” Farrugia said, “but the humour in this opera that premiered in 1816 is just as sarcastic as Bugs was, and just like when you speed up a video, every situation becomes hilarious. Even a thunderstorm in the opera becomes fun, and not even rappers can sing words as quickly as Rossini makes them sing. The sur-titles make it easy to understand, and you could literally apply the story to any culture.”

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The current production marks the ninth time Vancouver Opera has staged The Barber of Seville – first in 1964 and most recently in 2011.

This time around, opening night is Feb. 13 at 7:30 p.m., with subsequent evening performances on Saturday, Feb. 15 and Thursday, Feb. 20, plus a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday, Feb. 23. Show tickets start at $50 online at vancouveropera.ca, or call 604-683-0222.

Next up for Vancouver Opera, in April, is the West Coast premiere of Another Brick in the Wall: The Opera, based on the lyrics and music of the classic Pink Floyd album.

“I don’t know much about it yet, except that I’m looking forward to it,” Farrugia said.

An event post on Vancouver Opera’s website describes the production as “a psychological drama inspired by (Roger Waters’) life, told through a gripping story, with eye-popping video projections. A thrilling score by Quebec composer Julien Bilodeau transforms the iconic album into an operatic drama – perfect for operagoers and rock fans alike. Magnificent projection design by Johnny Ranger complements the action. The result is exquisite and hypnotic.”



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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