Breakout opera company ends first season with a bang

Opera Mariposa presents Pergolesi’s La serva padrona, a riotous comedy accompanied by chamber orchestra. Photo: Kathryn Nickford at

Vancouver’s youngest opera company is celebrating the end of its first season – and bringing audiences an exciting new show.

Following a launch concert described as “a stroke of genius” (The Voice), a virtuoso production of a rare Mozart opera, and a benefit gala raising $10,000 for the BC Women’s Hospital Foundation, Opera Mariposa will conclude its dynamic inaugural year with a unique double production: a sassy new staging of Pergolesi’s La serva padrona, performed alongside a concert of Handel favourites.

The show will feature emerging artists from across the Lower Mainland, in one of the only operas this year accompanied by baroque chamber orchestra. The cast includes both award-winning performers and talented singers making their operatic debuts, led by music director Ian Dives and staging director Robin Eder-Warren.

Baritone Damon Morris and soprano Allison Cociani will perform as a master and his bossy maid. Photo: Kathryn Nickford

An irreverent romp of an opera

Pergolesi’s La serva padrona, also known as The Maid Turned Mistress, tells the unlikely love story of a spirited maid and her “master.” Composed in 1733 as a comic intermezzo – an intermission entertainment for a longer, more serious opera – it quickly outstripped the “official” opera in popularity, going on to take Europe by storm. It was one of the first operas to feature humorous, relatable characters overcoming the rigid class barriers of the era, and today it’s unique as the only intermezzo still in the operatic repertoire.

Opera Mariposa’s artistic director Jacqueline Ko said La serva padrona was the obvious choice for a season finale. “It’s a pivotal work in the historical sense,” she said, “but more than that, it’s a wonderful piece of theatre. Pergolesi was a brilliant composer who died tragically young, and we wanted to share his signature opera with audiences. La serva padrona has everything – a hilarious story, beautiful music, and sassy, modern characters who don’t seem to realize they’re living in 1733.”

Sopranos Jacqueline Ko and Robin Eder-Warren founded Opera Mariposa to showcase emerging performers. Photo: Stephanie Ko.

A new stage for emerging artists

Opera Mariposa was founded by Jacqueline Ko and Robin Eder-Warren in 2012, as an innovative company run by young artists, for young artists. The award-winning young sopranos and childhood best friends envisioned Opera Mariposa as a place that would showcase Vancouver’s emerging talent, giving young professionals a chance to collaborate with other dedicated performers and challenge their artistic boundaries.

In keeping with Opera Mariposa’s philosophy, La serva padrona will feature not only a cast of gifted singers and actors, but a roster of breakout new talent on the production team. 24-year-old music director Ian Dives – whose background includes not only a conductor’s certificate and musicology degree but studies in composition, voice performance, harpsichord and piano – will conduct the show from the keyboard, while 21-year-old Eder-Warren will stage direct the show in her opera direction debut.

“It’s a thrill to combine my experience in theatre direction with my love of opera,” said Eder-Warren, “and doing it with La serva padrona is a dream come true. I get to work with fabulous performers in a fully staged production, exploring a story filled with comedy, pathos, and romance. It’s an incredible privilege to work with such talented people – and I can’t wait to share their gifts with our audiences through Handel and Pergolesi’s gorgeous music.”

Opera Mariposa presents Pergolesi’s La serva padrona

June 28, 29 and 30 @ 7:30 pm

Marpole United Church (1296 W. 67th Ave, Vancouver)

Fully staged opera with chamber orchestra, sung in Italian with English subtitles.

Tickets: $20/$18 (at the door or in advance)

Call 778-918-9498 or visit

Photo: Kathryn Nickford


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