Just three years into her painting career, with a people’s choice win from the 2014 Lake Country Art Walk to her name, Charla Maarschalk is pumping out pieces for Opera Kelowna.
The painter and the performers have a fruitful collaboration. Maarschalk paints a stunning portrait, the face of each opera in the vocalists’ calendar year, and the opera society enjoys a visual depiction to help draw an audience in—whether it be used for the front of a program, an advertising campaign or simply to decorate their new offices.
“Even if I wasn’t painting for them, just to be on board and be part of the creative team is just a blessing in my life,” said Maarschalk, when asked about the pairing.
This is her second season as their artist-in-residence. Her portrait of Sergei Rachmaninoff, the most imposing of the five commissions for this season, will be front and centre as an auction item for Opera Kelowna’s black tie gala dinner and performance, Masters of Eastern Europe, on Oct. 11.
The theme for this year’s opera season is A Royal Affair and Maarschalk‘s black, red, white and gold acrylics certainly lend a regal air to presenting the season. Featured in a joint announcement from the Okanagan’s three professional arts organizations—Opera Kelowna, Ballet Kelowna and the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra—revealing this year’s programming, Maarschalk said she listened to a documentary about Rachmaninoff’s life as she prepared the painting and feels his bleak story informed the morose undertone of the finished work.
Collaboration is key to this year’s opera performances, as it is for all arts organizations trying to stage quality work in smaller or medium-sized cities. The opera season opens with the Masters of Eastern Europe gala, featuring Kelowna pianist Arnold Draper, lyric soprano Alexandra Babbel, baritone Andrew Greenwood, cellist Martin Krátky, violinist Karen Krout and Toronto-based ballet dancers Cristina Graziano and Gabriel Rizmann Sarmento, from Ballet Jörgen. The Dolyna Ukrainian Cultural Society has pitched in with beautifully-costumed members who will escort guests from an elegant vodka cocktail and caviar reception to a lavish banquet catered by Details Catering.
The opera season includes a crowd-pleaser, The Marriage of Figaro, to be staged next August. Details on the rest of their season can be found online.
The Okanagan Symphony’s 55th season opens on Friday, Oct. 17 with Rhapsody, featuring guest pianist Ian Parker. The symphony will perform Harry Freedman’s Oiseaux Exotiques, Piano Concerto in F and Rhapsody in Blue, both from George Gershwin, and Benjamin Britten’s Four Sea Interludes. Information on the OSO’s programs for the season can be found online as well.
New artistic director and Ballet Kelowna CEO Simone Orlando opens her first season at the helm of the Okanagan’s resurrected ballet company with two world premiers—one choreographed by Orlando herself and the other by former Royal Winnipeg Ballet dancer and award-winning choreographer Shawn Hounsell. The season will also include a performance from New York City Ballet principal dancer Ashley Bouder and Lee Dances, a presentation of excerpts from dances created for the esteemed Clifford E. Lee Choreography Award.
The ballet’s season opens with The Nurcracker on Dec. 12. Tickets for all three of the season’s performances go on sale on Oct. 6 with single ticket sales beginning Nov. 1. Details and ticket sales online.
Inset photo: Portrait artist Charla Maarschalk gave up photography to paint three years ago and has worked with Opera Kelowna for two seasons. She is pictured above with her portrait of Sergei Rachmaninoff and a painting entitled Royal, the face of the season, themed A Royal Affair.