Oliver has written two operas to date, Guacamayo’s Oid Song and Dance for the Canadian Opera Company, and Alternate Visions for Chants Libres (Montreal).
The first idea and development was the initiative of the Vancouver Opera, in the fall of 1991, following on the success of *Guacamayo* at the Canadian Opera Company.
I was Composer-in-Residence from the fall of 1991 until at least the summer of 1995. The opera was actively pursued for several years, culminating in a workshop presentation of excerpts at the *Con'temp'aria Festival* hosted by Pacific Opera in Victoria, June 2,1995.
On October 16, 1995, Sue Bennett, then director of operations, contacted me to ask for details on the ensemble and other requirements to produce the opera. This appeared to be a good sign. However, nothing came of the subsequent exchange and, by early 1996, I was beginning to wonder what was happening. With Vancouver Opera not answering my calls, I decided to finish the opera and delivered the final score to the VOA offices on May 24, 1996. Later in the year, when I inquired about the production, General Director Robert Hallam met me in his office to inform me that he was leaving the company and that the project was essentially dead.
Dissatisfied with having completed an opera that was now in limbo, I decided in 1999 to present excerpts from my opera at the *NewOp 8* conference which was being hosted by Chants Libres in Montreal. After presenting the excerpts, Chants Libres artistic director Pauline Vaillancourt approached me to request that Chants Libres present the premiere of the work.
This was the beginning of a new phase in the *Alternate Visions* story, as the work was transformed into a bilingual opera that delved even more deeply into notions of personal and cultural identity, self-doubt, delusion, fear and anxiety. The embrace of Chants Libres and the new audio-visual concepts transformed the work. Pairing the great American tenor and storyteller Rinde Eckert as the hero with the rising Quebecoise soprano Jacinthe Thibault secured the central tension of the story.
*Alternate Visions* ran for three nights in May 2007 to full houses. Learn more about the production, visit the Chants Libres web site
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