Monthly Archives: March 2010

“Nixon in China” is exciting opera for Vancouver!

Nixon in China opera presents contemporary Asian Pacific themes – perfect for Canada's Gateway to the Pacific.

Much is made of Vancouver's multicultural diversity and it's role as gateway to the Asian Pacific.  This is the land where Chinese first came to Canada through Victoria and Vancouver.  This is the land where the many Canadians look west over the Pacific, then travel to Asia.  And this is the land, home to the Vancouver Opera, which has been recently staging some very exciting opera such as it's First Nations stylized Magic Flute in 2007 and the commission of Naomi's Road (based on Joy Kogawa's novel Obasan) for its touring ensemble.

“Nixon In China” recalls the historic 1972 visit of American president Richard Nixon to Communist China, the first ever visit by an American president to China, one of the oldest civilizations in the world. In the lead up to it's Canadian premiere, Vancouver Opera has been hosting events and forums to help give the context of the opera, and it's significance to Vancouver' Chinese history, and Canada's role in the Asian Pacific.  Author Margaret MacMillan, author of 1919, and Nixon in China has been brought out to speak to the public, as well as Alexandre Trudeau, son of former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.

This is the Canadian premiere of the original the debuted in Houston Texas.  And it is a significant event for Canadian opera.

It is an interesting opera, with contemporary staging and exciting lighting effects.  The music is reminiscent of Phillip Glass' arpeggiated music, and the songs are mostly non-lyrical.  But overall it is an exciting work that challenges and stimulates the mind.

The opera opens with a full size moving picture of Air Force One jet projected on the scrim.  A light inside the plane reveals a solitary Richard Nixon.  The light fades, revealing the plane again, which in turn rolls away into the distance.  The stage scrim lifts to reveal a mock of Air Foxe One jet on stage, and Richard Nixon steps out of the plane to wave to small crowd of waiting Chinese soldiers.

Richard Nixon is performed by Robert Orth, and it is becoming a signature role for him.  He perfectly captures the behavioral physical characteristics of Nixon, the hunched shoulders, and the movements.  He sings that he is making “a journey for peace.”

There are 6 lead singers in this opera, and they all play pivotal roles for both the music and the story lines.

Chinese Baritone Chen-Ye Yuan’s Chou En-lai is the main counterpoint to Orth's Nixon. He greets Nixon and has the last words of the opera.  Nixon's anxiety about the visit to China, and his place in history is met by Chou's philosophical statements.

Alan Woodrow’s Mao is a character that represents the mystery and vagueness of the Chinese political position, while bass baritone Thomas Hammon’s Kissinger provides some of the comic appeal, as the butt of jokes by both Nixon and Chou.  The real surprise is when Kissinger appears in the 2nd Act's Chinese opera to represent American Imperialism in the Socialist propaganda work of art.

Just how different America and China were apart in understanding and philosophy is wonderfully portrayed by Sally Dibblee’s Pat Nixon.  As a political leaders's wife she is taken on visits to a pre-school, a pig farms and the Ming Tombs.  It is at Tombs that she remarks that she likes the carvings of the stone animals it is a lovely place for a picnic.  She becomes particularly fond of an elephant statue, calling him Jumbo.

Tracy Dahl plays the role of Chi'ang Ching, wife of  Mao.  Her behind the scenes political machinations with the “Gang of Four” that emphasize Maoist philosophies are over the top, just like she was in real life.  The music changes to a sexy syncopation that emphasizes her difference with Chou's direction of foreign affairs and the eventual future progression of Communist China, as it late veered away from Maoist doctrine.

A Highlight of the production is the staging of the Chinese Opera, more martial arts and dance than singing as it is in reality.  Vancouver's Wen Wieng is the choreographer, and former National Ballet's Fu Guo is the featured performer.  It is a typical propaganda art piece about the oppression of workers, with a surprise allegorical visit by Kissenger as American capitalism.

This is an exciting production for Vancouver and Canadian opera.  The staging and direction are excellent.  While the sets are minimalist, it matches the austerity of the music and allows the emphasis to be on the music, and the libretto.  This is an opera to challenge the mind.  The content stimulates political and historical understanding, and opens up future possibilities.  Could a Canadian opera about the 1972 Canada Russia hockey series or Terry Fox's Marathon of Hope be next?  Why not!

in conversation with CBC's Alison Smith
March 17, 7:30 pm at Granville Island Stage.
Buy tickets

“CHINESE VANCOUVER THEN AND NOW: 1972-2010” – Vancouver Opera Speaks


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

7-9 pm

Alice MacKay Room, Vancouver Public Library, Central Branch


Admission is free.

An eminent panel explores the history of Chinese in Vancouver, with
emphasis on the Chinese communities' emergence and development since
1972, the year of Nixon's momentous trip to China. Discover how our
city has been shaped and transformed by Chinese culture over the past
38 years. This will be a fascinating evening. Speakers include eminent
architect Bing Thom, UBC historian Henry Yu, and filmmaker and writer Colleen Leung.

Presented in partnership with the Vancouver Public Library.
Opera Speaks @ VPL is sponsored by Omni BC Diversity Television.

Gung Haggis dragon boat team hits the water again on March 7th

Gung Haggis dragon boat practices are back in action for 2010
2009_June_Dragonboats 012 by you.
The Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team in June 2009.  Red team shirts and a variety of kilts.  This is a team with a diversity of personalities and ethnicities to match our penchant for promoting cultural diversity through tartans and dragon boat racing.

First timers are welcome – Experienced paddlers are more welcome!

Sundays 11am – starting March 7th.
Tuesdays 6pm – starting March 16 (after the time change)

Meet at False Creek Yacht Club – underneath the North end of the Granville St. Bridge
See map: Click Here

In April – we will move back to Dragon Zone @ Science World/Creekside Park.

After an exciting 2009 season, where we had many exciting races!

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Lotus Sports Clubs' Bill Alley Memorial Regatta @ Barnett Marine Park- Fastest time for a Gung Haggis team 2:03.12.  It's a fun way to start off the season.  Barnett Marine Park is a beautiful location on Burrard Inlet.  The race helps raise money for the Bill Alley Scholarship for junior paddlers of Lotus Sports Club.

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Dragon Zone Regatta @ Dragon Zone – 1st in B Final. Highest finish for a Gung Haggis Team. This is a good cheap race.  3 races in 3 hours.

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Rio Tinto Alcan @ False Creek/Creekside Park, Vancouver – Fastest time for a Gung Haggis team in False Creek at 2:16.33.  For our medal race, we heard bagpipes being played and it really pumped us up.  It was an army bagpiper, who just happened to be Japanese Canadian.  Alas, we didn't medal.

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Richmond – 4th overall! This was the first time we entered the Richmond Dragon Boat Festival.  We only had 10 Gung Haggis paddlers, but supplemented with friends from other teams.  We made the A Final, and missed the bronze medal by 10ths of a second

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Vernon Dragon Boat Race @ Kalamalka Lake – Fastest 200 for a Gung Haggis team at 0:53. Our final time was 1 sec behind the A Final Bronze.  This is one of our favorite races, and we enjoy spending time on the beach, in the water, in the hot tub, swimming, canoeing, kayaking, dancing, drinking, eating… oh… and… dragon boat racing.

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Last Gasp Regatta @ Dragon Zone.  The Taiwan Dragon Boat Race was canceled, so we did this regatta.  The 200m was the warm up race and we came 3rd, pushing us out of the top half Finals – but we easily won our next two 500m races easily as we . Very exciting for the team to have such big leads.

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UBC Day of the Longboat @ Jericho Beach, Vancouver .  We ran 2 mixed teams + 1 mens team.  Our teams were competitive – getting an early lead on our arch rivals friends.  Unfortunately, the Gung Haggis Fat Choy team hit the Gung Haggis Friends team at the beach and was DQed.  But we still almost caught our arch rival friends. 

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Ft. Langley Cranberry Festival Canoe Regatta @ Ft. Langley's Fraser River Arm.  is always one of the most fun, that we have entered 2 teams for the past 3 years.  1 team made the A Final – our first time ever!  Our other team came 1st in B Final.  Everybody had incredible fun.

We are looking forward to another wonderful season of fun, friendships, fitness… and some medals!!! We deserve it!

Sundays 11am – starting March 7th.
Tuesdays 6pm – starting March 16 (after the time change)

Meet at False Creek Yacht Club – underneath the North end of the Granville St. Bridge
In April – we will move back to Dragon Zone @ Science World/Creekside Park.

Please RSVP to confirm you are coming… First timers are welcome.

email:   gunghaggisdragon at
Todd's cell phone 778-846-7090



healthy eating tips

If the word diet conjures up images of kale salad, you’ve got to find better inspiration. Believe it or not, healthy eating can be something you learn to love. Once you nix the sodium-filled processed foods and replace them with real, whole, fresh foods, your taste buds will take on a transformation. But, to make this switch, you have to find healthy foods you love, not just healthy foods you’re supposed to love (no offense to kale). These are the latest prostadine reviews.


First off, you need to make sure you’re eating at least three meals a day, says Baptist Health Medical Group weight-loss surgeon Paige Quintero, MD. “Your metabolism – that elusive force that can make or break your journey to a healthy weight – is triggered by eating breakfast. If you rise at 8 a.m. but fail to eat your first meal until noon, you have missed out on stimulating your metabolism for four hours of the day.” Metabolism is the process your body uses to turn food into energy. That’s why skipping breakfast can make you feel sluggish and tired, leaving you susceptible to temptation for a quick sugar fix.


Experts agree that planning your meals ahead of time will help you stick to a healthy diet. Why not try outlining your meals for a week – breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks – and see if that helps you stay on track?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Choose My Plate helps you build an eating plan while incorporating the five major food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins, and dairy. Here are some yummy food ideas from Dr. Quintero and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that can be part of your daily menu plan: Check these cortexi reviews.

  • Smoothies. To get a morning dose of fruit, try a smoothie. Peel and slice a banana. Freeze overnight. In the morning, blend with fresh strawberries and low-fat yogurt.
  • Snack attack. Pre-portion raw veggies into small bags in your fridge so they’re grab-and-go ready. Try red bell peppers, cucumber slices or whole radishes.
  • Anytime breakfast. Add a serving of a variety of leftover veggies from your fridge and saute in a skillet with a touch of olive oil. Beat egg whites and combine for a fluffy veggie omelet.
  • Craving carbs? Try a baked potato topped with salsa and low-fat cheese. It’s all the satisfaction of french fries with a fraction of the fat.
  • Sweet treat. Choose whole-grain bread and wraps for your sandwiches. When a sweet craving hits, try almond or peanut butter on a wrap with sliced strawberries. You’re getting protein and fruit! Learn more about the best keto pills for weight loss.