New opera Missing tells the story of missing and murdered Indigenous women

By Isabella Perrone for Opera Canada

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Photo: City Opera Vancouver

The world premiere of Missing, a new opera based on the tragedy of over 1,200 missing and murdered First Nations, Inuit and Métis women and girls in Canada, is fast approaching.

The opera, produced by City Opera Vancouver and Pacific Opera Victoria will open November 3 at The York Theatre in Vancouver. Written by Canadian Métis playwright Marie Clements and scored by composer Brian Current, the show aims to shed light on a national emergency.

Missing explores the devastating losses felt by the communities and families, both First Nations and non-First Nations, of the victims. “With Missing we have the rare opportunity to inform about this crisis in a meaningful and unprecedented way,” says Charles Barber, Artistic Director of City Opera Vancouver. “We commissioned Marie Clements to write her first-ever opera libretto to honour the memory of each and every missing and murdered Indigenous woman. The poignant tale she so brilliantly conceived lends itself to opera, as the human voice is a powerful vehicle to draw deep emotion and introspection. It is the story of two women who represent so many – one who survives and one who does not, and it’s through their story we find hope and, for some, healing.”

The story of Missing and its importance

The opera is set between downtown Vancouver’s east side and BC’s Highway 16—infamously known as the Highway of Tears—where at least 18 women have vanished or been found murdered in the last fifty years. Told in both English and Gitxsan (a First Nations language that is widely spoken in that area) the story follows two women, one Indigenous and one non-Indigenous, whose lives become intertwined through tragedy. The two leads will be performed by Métis Canadian soprano Melody Courage and Alberta-born soprano Caitlin Wood, who are joined by mezzo-soprano Marion Newman of Kwagiulth and Stó:lo First Nations, playing an Indigenous university professor. The cast is rounded out with several other vocalists, of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous heritage. Peter Hinton directs along with artistic director Barber.

“The story of Missing can’t answer the questions I’ve been asking my whole life, but I am hoping it will join other voices who are asking the same questions, telling their stories, and demanding an end to what should be unfathomable,” says Clements.


Missing, a new opera produced by City Opera Vancouver and Pacific Opera Victoria, will play on November 3, 7, 9, 11 at 8pm and November 5 at 2pm at The York Theatre in Vancouver. For tickets, please visit here.

The official artistic committee for Missing sought the advice of First Nations women elders who have lost daughters, sisters, mothers, and friends in Canada. This performance is made possible thanks to the integral feedback and participation of many First Nations communities and leaders in Vancouver and across BC.

The upcoming edition of Opera Canada will include features on Marie Clements and Marion Newman. To subscribe, please visit here.

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