For Ian Rye, opera is as good as it gets.
“Opera is the ultimate art form, isn’t it? It’s the fantastic coming together of visual arts, of music, of theatre and storytelling, and it’s delivered by singers and players at the extreme of human creative and physical capacity,” Rye said. “It’s this beautiful culmination of artistry and athleticism.”
Talking to Rye, it’s easy to see his enthusiasm has been an asset to him in his career in the arts world, which has now led him to his new role as CEO of Pacific Opera Victoria. Rye is no stranger to the organization, having spent the last 10 years as director of artistic administration. Now, with a newly earned MBA to his name, and his years of experience with performing arts in Victoria, Rye is ready to take on the new challenge.
“It’s the perfect combination of my background,” Rye said. “What I’m thrilled about is the work we’re doing to propel this organization forward. It’s really exciting to be able to continue that journey.”
Growing up in Toronto, Rye fell in love with the opera as a child while attending the Toronto Symphony and the Canadian Opera Company. He went on to study scenic design for the stage and worked as a professional artist in dance and opera. When he moved to Victoria, it was to take the role as the director of production for the Belfry Theatre, where he remained for close to a decade.
Rye sees his role now as to help Pacific Opera continue to grow as a world-class company. He sees room to encourage more collaboration, locally and internationally, and to work with more Canadian and international artists. And he said he has a strong foundation to build on.
“This is a music town and this is an organization that’s absolutely best in class in Canada,” Rye said. “Our artistic accomplishments are renowned… and we have a community that rallies around this art form in a really thrilling and exciting way.”
Victoria has three times as many opera goers per capita as any other community in Canada, Rye said, and the company is hoping to turn even more people, of all interests, on to its charms. It runs programs in schools to encourage an early love of opera, there are free programs for the public for those who want to learn more and main stage operas at The Royal always offer affordable seats.
“Our work in the schools, our work in the community, our work online, has made this art form more accessible than it’s ever been,” said Rye. “Sure, it can be spectacular. It can be athletic and death-defying, but ultimately at its core it’s fundamentally human.”