Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

News stories from the Renfrew-Collingwood community in East Vancouver


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September 2017 issue of RCC News is here

September 2017 RCC News

This issue of the Renfrew-Collingwood Community News is full of the many wonderful people, events and programs happening in our neighbourhood!

Get your latest issue of the RCC News at your local coffee shop, grocery store, library and community centre.

Or click on the cover image to view the new issue.

In this issue:

  • Renfrew Ravine Moon Festival, Saturday, September 30
  • September a good time to move beyond work-life balance
  • New exhibit at Il Museo: The Venetian Ghetto
  • Easter Seals Camps make a difference
  • Collingwood Corner: Check out Nostalgic Vancouver Facebook
  • Banana Grove grocery celebrates 25 years
  • Guacamole for justice
  • Logan the goat chews up Renfrew Ravine native plants
  • Plus Collingwood Neighbourhood House fall recreation programs

Do you have a local story to tell or an event to share? We’d love to hear about it! Email rccnews-editorial@cnh.bc.ca.

The deadline for the October 2017 issue is September 10. We welcome story submissions from 300 to 400 words long. Accompanying photos must be high resolution in a jpg file at least 1 MB large and include a photo caption and the name of the photographer.

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Common Voices: The Cultural Legacy of Italian and Cantonese Opera in Vancouver

Exhibit at Italian Cultural Centre’s Il Museo runs until July 15

Chinese-Opera-Common-Voices

Rosa Cheng, Vancouver Cantonese Opera, 2016. Photos courtesy of the Italian Cultural Centre

BY ANGELA CLARKE

Spanning May and June, which are Asian and Italian heritage months, the Italian Cultural Centre mounted an exhibition on the history of Cantonese and Italian opera in Vancouver. While these two art forms evolved independently from two diverse musical traditions, they share significant commonalities as major performance genres spanning the cultural history of the Chinese and Italian communities in Vancouver.

Both art forms have been practised in Vancouver since the beginning of immigration to this area, around 1885. They are known for their elaborate costuming and make-up, as well as the immense skill required of the artists who devote their lives to interpreting these musical genres.

While both musical forms are viewed as an acquired taste, often requiring some knowledge of the music and its history before they can be appreciated, historically, they have contributed significantly over the last century to the cultural landscape of Vancouver. Both genres have enabled both the Chinese and Italian communities to remain connected with their cultures of origin as they have negotiated their way in their new home of Canada.

Art, opera and cultural discrimination

Vancouver-Opera-Common-Voices

Vancouver Opera, Norma, starring Joan Sutherland, 1963.

The story of Italian and Cantonese opera also tells the story of discrimination and isolation. For both Italian and Cantonese communities in Vancouver these musical genres were often performed as a means to create community and connection in times of duress.

The exhibition tells the story of the Italian men interned in the work camps of Kananaskis in Alberta and Petawawa in Ontario, who created a camp choir of internees. These men, surrounded by armed guards, travelled around the countryside performing scheduled appearances. Despite being under heavy surveillance they were in demand among the civilian communities around Petawawa. There was even a professional opera singer, Piero Orsatti, among them.

For the Cantonese-speaking men living in Vancouver’s Chinatown, Cantonese opera and its performance was a means to create a haven for men who could not speak English, and due to the laws of exclusion, where banned from bringing family to Canada. Cantonese opera was a means of creating a foundation of familiarity in an unfamiliar and hostile environment.

For the Chinese men who immigrated to Vancouver for work on the railway, Cantonese opera was compelling not only because of the language but also for the many female performers who travelled from China in theatrical troupes. Certainly the story of Cantonese opera in Vancouver is an important and unique vignette offering scholars important insight into the history of women in Vancouver performance history. Women performers drew large audiences in Vancouver in the 1920s and ’30s, a full decade before women were even allowed to perform in their native China. As well, despite the traditionalism of the art form, these female artists, performing along the West Coast of the United States and Canada, became renowned for their alluring sense of style and the adoption of North American silver-screen aesthetics.

Currently Cantonese opera in Vancouver still continues to be relevant largely due to the female performers. In the Chinese community, women train as interpreters of this genre later in life, desiring to reconnect with their culture in retirement. Women train to interpret both the male and female roles.

Today Italian opera continues to emerge from its Eurocentric origins, finding contemporary relevance in plot lines located in post-colonial environments. As part of the repertoire for the Push Festival in 2017, Third World Bunfight produced a modern retelling of Verdi’s opera Macbeth. This full-length opera relocated the traditional plotline from medieval Scotland and placed it into the current political realities of the Congo in territories governed by military dictatorships. This production was supported by Vancouver Opera and the Italian Cultural Centre.

This exhibition on the history of Cantonese and Italian opera in Vancouver features historic costuming and interactive video to animate this story. The exhibition runs until Saturday, July 15, 2017.

Angela Clarke is the museum director and curator at the Italian Cultural Centre Museum. The Common Voices exhibit has been supported by Canada Heritage, the Museum of Migration and the Italian Cultural Centre.

Copyright (c) 2017 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News


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July 2017 issue of RCC News is here

Renfrew-Collingwood Community News July 2017

This issue of the Renfrew-Collingwood Community News is full of the many wonderful people, events and programs happening in our neighbourhood!

Get your latest issue of the RCC News at your local coffee shop, grocery store, library and community centre.

Or click on the cover image to view the new issue.

In this issue:

  • New Il Museo exhibit illuminates the cultural legacy of Italian and Cantonese opera in Vancouver
  • Big Sisters seeks Study Buddy mentors
  • Make it a learning summer in Renfrew-Collingwood
  • MOSAIC moves to Collingwood
  • Reorganized Organ youth art project
  • Windermere students visit Ottawa with Don Davies, MP
  • Art for your heart: New book by local artist Ricardo Arturo Cerna Rivas
  • Have a Still Moon summer!

Do you have a local story to tell or an event to share? We’d love to hear about it! Email rccnews-editorial@cnh.bc.ca.

The deadline for the August 2017 issue is July 10. We welcome story submissions from 300 to 400 words long. Accompanying photos must be high resolution in a jpg file at least 1 MB large and include a photo caption and the name of the photographer.


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February 2017 issue of RCC News is here

Renfrew-Collingwood Community News February 2017

This issue of the Renfrew-Collingwood Community News is full of the many wonderful people, events and programs happening in our neighbourhood!

Get your latest issue of the RCC News at your local coffee shop, grocery store, library and community centre.

Or click on the cover image to view the new issue.

In this issue:

  • Remembering Tony Siliverdis of Zorro’s Pizza
  • Multicultural Potluck at Bruce Elementary
  • Eating Out in RC: Romantic eats with your Valentine
  • Collingwood Corner: Joyce Street in 1914
  • Artist Café at Il Museo, Italian Cultural Centre
  • Foster Avenue sewer upgrade coming to Collingwood this spring/summer
  • A mother thanks Big Brothers of Greater Vancouver
  • Join local food security activities this February

Do you have a local story to tell or an event to share? We’d love to hear about it! Email rccnews-editorial@cnh.bc.ca.

The deadline for the March 2017 issue is February 10. We welcome story submissions from 300 to 400 words long. Accompanying photos must be high resolution in a jpg file at least 1 MB large and include a photo caption and the name of the photographer.


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Il Museo kicks off Italian Heritage Month with Romeo e Giuletta, June 3 and 4

Experience Shakespeare’s beloved play in Italian

BY ANGELA CLARKE

Romeo and Giulietta at Il Museo, Italian Cultural Centre

Romeo and Giulietta plays at Il Museo, Italian Cultural Centre, June 3 and 4

June is Italian Heritage month and Il Cento has a full month of scheduled events in honour of the Italian contribution to the cultural life of Vancouver. These events include wine tastings, jazz and opera concerts, soccer with the Whitecaps, Il Mercato (the Italian market), and Italian movies in the park.

One new addition to this annual event is a bilingual production of Romeo e Giulietta produced and performed by the Cultural Centre’s new theatre group the Il Centro Players.

The artistic director in charge of production is Nicole Riglietti. Riglietti comes to Il Centro with extensive experience in theatre, film and television. While she plays the title role of Giulietta in this performance, her artistic goals have always been in the area of theatre production. in future theatrical performances, she aims to devote herself entirely to directing.

Riglietti, who herself is of Italian heritage, believed that any theatre organization associated with Il Centro should produce a bilingual (Italian and English) productions. She felt that it was fitting for the very romantic and well-known Romeo e Giulietta by Shakespeare to be their first production since it has always been one of her favourite plays from childhood. It is also Shakespeare’s most famous Italian play and most Vancouver audiences are already familiar with the story.

During a recent trip to Italy Riglietti discovered an excellent Italian translation of this play, and this confirmed her decision to make this production a bilingual one.

In addition, after immersing herself in the Italian text, she found that the Italian dialogue could be seamlessly introduced into the staging without losing context and continuity in the plot. There is nothing that will be lost in translation for audiences when half the play is spoken in Italian.

The bilingualism of the text works well and is culturally significant on many levels. First, Romeo e Giulietta is Shakespeare’s best-known Italian play. There are 13 plays that Shakespeare located in Italy. In fact, scholars have argued that Shakespeare himself had an in-depth knowledge of Italian history and culture. So many social and historical realities found within his Italian plays are entirely accurate. Therefore, it has been argued that Shakespeare must have had a first-hand knowledge of Italian historical events and geography.

The most significant of Shakespeare’s insights found in Romeo e Giulietta is the role of Friar Lawrence as peacekeeper between the warring families. In Renaissance Italy monks in the Franciscan Order tried desperately to maintain the peace in the politically fractured city states of Northern Italy. As well, the original story of Romeo e Giulietta was written in Italian in 1531 by the Venetian author Luigi Da Porto. Shakespeare must have had a familiarity with Da Porto’s work.

The other decision to make the production bilingual resides in the nature of the play’s cast. Everyone who contributes to the Il Centro players has an immigrant background. Many troupe members, like Nicole herself, are second- and third-generation Italian Canadians, in other words the children and grandchildren of Italian immigrants. Each one of them grew up speaking Italian or a dialect of it in their homes.

For these young people Italian is often spoken interchangeably with English in their daily lives. Therefore, a bilingual theatre matches the cultural reality of the actors participating in it and the larger community it serves.

As Nicole Riglietti describes it, “being Italian-Canadian means to be both Italian and Canadian.”

It is our hope in future productions to continue to acknowledge this cultural duality. Shakespeare’s Romeo e Giulietta, is the perfect introduction to this concept, while it might be an English play fundamentally, it still represents a deep, rich and longstanding Italian tradition.

This perfectly represents the cultural life at Il Centro, all of us live in contemporary Vancouver, but within each one of us there resides a significant Italian historic tradition informing and shaping our cultural expression.

See Romeo e Giulietta at Il Centro June 3 and 4, 2016, at 7 pm.

Copyright (c) 2016 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News