November 26, 2019

Chinatown workshops announced for Madeleine Thien's "Chinatown"

Saturday 30 November
Carnegie Community Centre, Hastings x Main
7 – 9:30pm 1st public reading & workshop

Sunday 1 December
Floata Private Dining Room, 180 Keefer Street
6:30 – 9pm 2nd public reading & workshop

Monday 2 December
Chinese Nationalist League Auditorium, 537 Main Street
2 – 4:30pm 3rd public reading & workshop, with Cantonese & Mandarin translations

Light refreshments will be served at every workshop. Madeleine Thien will be in attendance throughout. Free, of course.

CHINATOWN is City Opera’s fifth commission in nine years.


Libretto by Madeleine Thien

“CHINATOWN will tell the story of the history, people, and culture of one of our most important neighbourhoods. It could not be more timely,” said City Opera president Janet Lea.

Its librettist is the renowned writer, Vancouver-born and raised, Madeleine Thien is best known for her historical novel DO NOT SAY WE HAVE NOTHING (2016), winner of the Giller Prize and the Governor-General’s Award. It has been translated into 17 languages. CHINATOWN will be her first opera.

Said Thien, “I’m honoured to have this chance to immerse in the intricate and complex life of Vancouver’s Chinatown. For over a century, this neighbourhood has been the centre of gravity for the imaginings, stories, experiences, heartbreaks and hopes of Vancouver’s Chinese community. Many people – from divergent and overlapping histories and languages – call this neighbourhood home; for me, Strathcona and Chinatown are at the core of my own childhood and teenaged years.

“I’m deeply moved to be part of this project. I look forward to learning all that I can, and to working on an opera that might create, in unanticipated ways, a profound experience of our shared history and future.”

CHINATOWN is planned for world premiere in September 2021. The evening will commence with a community dinner, and a memorial parade to The Vancouver Playhouse. This special event will honour the elders and community leaders who have made Chinatown possible, unique, and essential, all these years.



The Vancouver Foundation has awarded City Opera Vancouver a three-year creation and production grant for its new opera, CHINATOWN.

This complements an award previously granted by the City, through its Creative City Strategies programme, on 13 November 2018.