October 26, 2017 (Vancouve­r, BC) - This November, two Vancouver companies will welcome audiences to opera's most famous masked ball. The award-winning artists of Opera Mariposa and the Heroic Opera Company will present Verdi's Un ballo in maschera on November 17 and 19 at Canadian Memorial United Church, and on November 25 at Marpole United Church. The production features two casts of performers from across five continents, directed by Vancouver Opera's Adam Da Ros and veteran music director Richard Epp.

In Un ballo in maschera (A Masked Ball), a secret love triangle and a political conspiracy collide one fateful night at a masquerade. The opera has a controversial history, having originally been blocked by censors for depicting the assassination of a monarch. Verdi was forced to change the setting, the characters, and even the title in order to bring the opera to the stage. Now, over 150 years after Ballo's 1859 premiere, Mariposa and Heroic are restoring the original plot and bringing Verdi's masked ball to life with a stellar international cast.

"In so many ways, Un ballo in maschera is the ultimate opera," says Mariposa artistic director Jacqueline Ko. "It has passion, intrigue, sorcery and spectacle - it's a great piece of drama as well as a musical masterpiece. It also requires exceptional voices to do justice to Verdi's lush score, which is why we're so delighted to be working with Heroic Opera for this production."

Heroic founder Sarah Templeton was thrilled to team up with Mariposa on a large-scale Verdi opera. "Canada has some fantastic big, dramatic voices, but there just aren't enough role opportunities for them here - which is where Heroic Opera comes in." At a time when opera companies everywhere are grappling with limited resources and an evolving audience base, smaller companies in particular face challenges in staging larger works. "I'm so excited that together, our companies will be able to bring this big, beautiful opera to Vancouver audiences - and showcase an incredible array of talent on the way."

Un ballo in maschera stars Vancouver Opera tenor Mark Pepe as King Gustavo; baritones Andy Greenwood and William Liu double-cast as his friend Renato; and award-winning sopranos Templeton and Heidi Muendel as Amelia, the woman both men love. Other notable artists include mezzo-soprano Elena Razlog, recently returned from an encore concert series in Russia;  local soprano Kallie Clayton, just seen in Vancouver Opera's Turandot; and German-Filipino soprano Gerphil Flores, the 2015 Asia's Got Talent second runner-up and David Foster Golden Buzzer winner who has been dubbed "Asia's golden girl".