The Challenges of Running A Small Opera Company

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Just because it's a small opera company, doesn't mean it's a small task. Anyone who has dedicated a portion of their life to a non-profit organization knows what an incredibly difficult weightlifting feat it is. It's almost impossible to articulate just how detailed and unrelenting the process is.

A Little Background

In the beginning, I ran this company all by myself. That meant writing the opera (music and words), obtaining the sponsorship, coordinating the event, creating the event materials, coordinating the rehearsals, bringing in the performers, conducting the opera, and stage directing the production, to name some of my duties. My immediate family played a huge role in supporting me. They also helped build a lot of the infrastructure that Vera Causa Opera enjoys today. Thankfully, I don't have to work alone like that anymore because I have three of the most impressive officers any entrepreneur could ask for.

I've done my best to present a basic list of six challenges I face as the Founder and Artistic Director of Vera Causa Opera.

1.Day to Day

My challenges include ensuring that the weekly division of tasks is balanced, and that organization, communication, and clarity of vision are paramount - we all have to be on the same page. If someone is overworked, I need to reallocate the task that is overloading them, or more often than not, complete it myself in addition to my artistic responsibilities. There is always, without fail, plenty of other demands that seem to vaporize out of thin air. It is my job to ensure that these are dealt with appropriately and professionally.

2.Re-branding Opera

I want to reinvigorate the operatic environment, transforming it to one that is inclusive, inviting, and communal. At VCO, we seek to dismantle the arrogant, classist, and restrictive ideologies that were previously associated with opera. This is hard to demonstrate to the wider public, because opera has had such an incredibly long history of being a "higher" art form. This, in combination with the stereotypes that opera is both long and boring, makes our jobs that much more difficult. Luckily, we present operas that are typically no longer than 1 hour, and are majorly in English. Add in young professionals and a unique venue, and you've got yourself a very engaging source of entertainment. By having this quintessential product, our values are well-represented. We can honestly approach the public with this renewed idea of what constitutes opera. With this at the forefront, people understand what it is we're doing.

3. A Positive Experience

When I choose my performers and my officers, I will only ever hire or work with those that embody the attitudes and behaviours that I want to be reflected in my company. When these people bring their good-hearted natures to the company, I will do everything within my power to ensure that they are treated with the utmost respect and courtesy. This is one of my most stressful challenges: making sure that everyone who takes part in a Vera Causa Opera production is satisfied and confident that their learning experience was a positive one. This includes artists, audience members, sponsors, and staff. The positive learning experience is a cornerstone of what we do at Vera Causa Opera. If we do not foster that positive experience, then we are no different than any other opera company.

4. Spreading the Word

You would think that with everyone checking their phones some 62 times a day, this would be easy! Sadly, it isn't always so simple. Thankfully, what we are promoting is a wonderfully collaborative and creative process that provides the most accessible and affordable entertainment in the Waterloo Region. This means that when we reach our audience, they take an interest! Tsya Gagnon, our Social Media Coordinator, is excellent at having regular social media posts to keep all of our followers updated and informed about current VCO events. If you're reading this right now, it was probably due to her thoughtfulness!

5. There's So Much to Do, and So Little Time

The title says it best. We are a very efficient task force, and so this problem is usually mitigated as well as it can be. However, we have to work our behinds off to make sure that's true! The workload is staggering. I won't delve too deeply here: I will just say that what we do goes well beyond 40 hours a week.

6. Walking the Tightrope; We Haven't Quit Our Day Jobs

The workload involved in VCO is a full-time job. But... no one who works at VCO is salaried. The biggest challenge facing Vera Causa Opera is that everyone who takes part in the officer-side of the company holds at least one other job, and in the majority of cases is also still a full-time student. So, in addition to conquering the above, these outstanding people are working on overdrive in all other parts of their lives. I myself have, including VCO, three jobs in three different cities. I am also a full-time student, with other professional engagements that take me every which way.

I hope you enjoyed learning a bit more about what goes on behind the curtain here at Vera Causa Opera!

If you would like to make our lives a little easier and help provide incredible operatic experiences for everyone in the region, please consider making a donation or attending one of our shows.

We'd be delighted to have you- it really is the most enjoyable entertainment you will ever get for $10. I personally would like to say thank you for taking the time to read about our opera troop, and I hope you have a wonderful day.

For more information, including where to buy tickets:

To donate:

Dylan Langan

Artistic Director

At the time of writing, Vera Causa Opera's Day to Day Operations are maintained by a group of 4 officers: The Artistic Director & Founder: Dylan Langan, The Social Media Coordinator & Recording Membership Secretary: Tsya Gagnon, The Treasurer: Jordan Kafka, and The Sponsorship & Event

Coordinator: Julijana Hajdinjak.

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Registered Charity #: 77901 9892 RR0001