During the 2019/20 season, Glynis Leyshon directed her 30th production with Pacific Opera Victoria – Puccini’s Il trittico. Glynis was the dramaturg and director for the new opera The Flight of the Hummingbird, which premiered in 2020 and toured to schools and community venues in British Columbia before becoming a filmed, online resource for schools due to COVID-19. In 2021, Glynis directed filmed adaptations of Lee Hoiby’s The Italian Lesson and Bon Appétit! for Pacific Opera Victoria. She will be returning as director for live performances of the two chamber operas in March 2022.
Glynis Leyshon’s long and creatively fulfilling relationship with Pacific Opera Victoria began with The Barber of Seville in 1980 – her opera directing debut. She returned to direct The Abduction from the Seraglio (1981); Die Fledermaus (1982); Amahl and the Night Visitors (1983); The Merry Widow (1984 and 1993); La Bohème (1986); Lucia di Lammermoor (1987); The Pirates of Penzance (1990); Madama Butterfly (1991); A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1993); Macbeth (1995); The Turn of the Screw (1997); Don Giovanni (1999); a rare revival of Vittorio Giannini’s The Taming of the Shrew (2001); and Eugene Onegin (2005). In 2007 she directed for the second time a company production of Don Giovanni. In 2008 she directed the Canadian première of Marc Blitzstein’s Regina, returning the following year for The Magic Flute and The Rake’s Progress. In 2011 she directed the company première of Samuel Barber’s Vanessa, followed by The Flying Dutchman. She also directed Pacific Opera’s co-production with Vancouver Opera of Albert Herring, staged in Victoria in February 2013 and in Vancouver in November 2013. In the 2014/15 season Glynis directed Pacific Opera’s 100th production, Verdi’s Falstaff followed by Lucia di Lammermoor, her 25th production for the company.
In the 2015/16 season, Glynis directed Verdi’s Otello in a Pacific Opera Victoria / Opéra de Montréal co-production, with performances in Victoria in October, 2015, and in Montréal in January, 2016. She also directed the production of a version of the Pacific Opera commission Mary’s Wedding for a series of school performances in November, 2015. Glynis returned to Pacific Opera’s stage in October 2016 to direct yet another of Verdi’s masterpieces, this time the company première of Simon Boccanegra. She directed Handel’s Rinaldo, her first Baroque opera, in April 2018.
Glynis was born in Aberdeenshire, Scotland and immigrated to Canada as a child. She grew up in North Vancouver on the traditional land of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation. Her ancestors are all Celtic. Her father’s family are from the small coal mining village of Pencoed, Wales and her mother’s family were rural farmers near Aberdeen, Scotland. After the Second World War, her parents journeyed across the Atlantic and made a home on the west coast of Canada.
Glynis is now one of Canada’s most respected opera and theatre directors. In opera, in addition to her work for Pacific Opera Victoria. recent engagements include the world première of Estacio’s Ours (Opera on the Avalon, with remounts in St. John’s and the National Arts Centre) and Die Fledermaus and South Pacific with Calgary Opera.
Recent and upcoming theatre productions include The Virgin Trial for Alberta Theatre Projects and the Shaw Festival’s new production of Brigadoon.
Further opera credits include La Traviata, Madama Butterfly, Don Giovanni, La Cenerentola, Rigoletto, The Merry Widow, and The Tales of Hoffmann for Calgary Opera; Die Fledermaus for Opera Hamilton; Salome, Rigoletto, and Madama Butterfly for Vancouver Opera; Trial by Jury for Edmonton Opera; and Falstaff and The Marriage of Figaro for Opera Lyra, Ottawa.
From 2002 to 2004, Ms. Leyshon was Head of the Opera as Theatre Programme at The Banff Centre where she mounted original opera programs created by renowned opera librettist John Murrell, focusing on operatic works based on the plays of Shakespeare.
While the majority of this operatic work has been in the traditional repertoire, Ms. Leyshon’s experience as a dramaturge and director of new theatre work has led her to develop and direct a number of new opera productions including Game Misconduct by Leslie Uyeda and librettist Tom Cone, which had a successful premiere at Festival Vancouver in 2000. She has also been invited to workshop a number of contemporary pieces at The Banff Centre under Keith Turnbull. She has also worked with Pacific Opera Victoria’s New Opera Workshop and in early planning for POV’s commission of a new opera based on Stephen Massicotte’s award-winning play Mary’s Wedding.
As Artistic Director of the Playhouse Theatre Company in Vancouver from 1997 until 2008, Ms. Leyshon directed a wide range of work, including a Jessie award-winning production of Equus, Copenhagen with Tony award winner Brent Carver, A Little Night Music, Mrs. Warren’s Profession (co-production with The Citadel Theatre, Edmonton), The Beauty Queen of Lenane (co-production with the National Arts Centre) and Wit (co-production with Canadian Stage, Toronto).
Before the Playhouse, Ms. Leyshon served as Artistic Director of the Belfry Theatre in Victoria for 11 seasons. During her tenure she directed over 25 productions, including national tours of The Ballad of Phil Ochs, and was instrumental in heading a capital campaign that allowed the theatre to purchase and renovate a landmark heritage building.
Ms. Leyshon has also been invited to direct for theatre companies across the country, including the hugely successful Gershwin musical Lady Be Good and the rarely mounted Sullivan musical The Zoo for the Shaw Festival. Other theatrical works include the Chalmers award-winning The Hope Slide at the Tarragon Theatre, The Taming of the Shrew at Vancouver’s International Shakespeare Festival Bard on the Beach, Vigil for Theatre Calgary, and the world premieres of Warriors by Michel Garneau and Moo by Sally Clark at the international ATP Playrites Theatre Festival. In June of 2008 she premiered a new play, Where the Blood Mixes, at Luminato, Toronto’s Festival of Arts and Creativity and at the Magnetic North Festival in Vancouver.
Ms. Leyshon has a particular passion for working with and teaching young and emerging artists. She has conducted master classes for opera training programmes in Calgary, Victoria, Courtenay, and Banff and directed the Victoria Conservatory of Music’s Opera Studio production of Scenes from Così fan tutte. In addition to this work, she has also conducted courses at the University of Victoria, William Head Penitentiary, the Victoria Conservatory of Music, and the University of British Columbia, where she serves as an Adjunct Professor.
Glynis is the recipient of the 2016 University of Victoria Distinguished Alumni Award and of Canada’s Commonwealth Medal for her contributions to the arts.
One of the most innovative, magical productions I’ve ever seen … It’s one part steampunk, one part fantasy movie, one part 50s B-movie, and 100% delightful…. This entire production is one of the most clever, imaginative productions I ever remember seeing, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. If this is where Baroque opera is going, consider me a convert!
Melissa Ratcliff, Schmopera, review of Rinaldo. Pacific Opera Victoria, 2018
Glynis Leyshon’s spare and comprehensively intelligent stagecraft, of a piece with the musical direction, was beautifully supplemented by an abstract set coloured with rich Renaissance reds and a deep, emotive sea-rich aquamarine, courtesy of Peter Hartwell and Guy Simard.
Elizabeth Paterson, Review Vancouver, review of Pacific Opera Victoria’s Otello, 2015
Director Glynis Leyshon rollicked with this romp of a production, the physical comedy perfectly calibrated from beginning to end to bring out character as well as laughs.
Robin Miller, Opera Canada, review of Pacific Opera Victoria’s Falstaff, 2014
Director Glynis Leyshon and set designer Allan Stitchbury somehow found a way to make what may be the smallest opera stage in Canada large enough to allow this wildly dramatic story feel wild and gripping.
Robin Miller, Opera Canada, review of Pacific Opera Victoria’s The Flying Dutchman, 2011
Both in the grand overview, and in almost every last detail, Pacific Opera Victoria’s Rake’s Progress is a triumph. Under the leadership, at once meticulous, inspired, and inspiring, of conductor Timothy Vernon and director Glynis Leyshon, music and drama alike were realized as consummately as I have ever experienced in the course of more than half a century’s acquaintance with this original and compelling masterpiece.
Bernard Jacobson, International Opera Review, Pacific Opera Victoria’s The Rake’s Progress, 2009