Opera.ca, the national association for professional opera in Canada, recently announced that MCG’s Peter George is the 2011/12 recipient of the Opera.ca National Opera Directors Recognition Award. Peter is Past Chair of the Board of Trustees for Manitoba Opera (MO).

The annual award honours a board member who promotes good governance, celebrates volunteer excellence and raises the bar for board director commitment. It is sponsored by BMO Financial Group and will be awarded at a gala in New York in 2012.

“As a supporter of many opera companies in Canada, BMO understands the vital role volunteer directors make in developing strong ties between opera companies and the communities in which they perform,” said Nada Ristich, Director, Corporate Donations, BMO Financial Group. “BMO is pleased to sponsor the National Opera Directors Recognition Award, which recognizes Peter George as this year’s recipient.”

“Opera.ca is delighted to be joining BMO Financial Group in celebrating Peter George’s contributions to Manitoba Opera,” said Christina Loewen, Executive Director, Opera.ca. “Opera.ca believes the strength of an opera company is directly related to the quality of its governance, and Peter exemplifies the impact that leadership and strong governance can have on an opera company in its community.”

Peter joined the board of Manitoba Opera in 2001, when the company was on the verge of bankruptcy. As board chair from 2004 to 2011, Peter guided MO through an extended period of rebuilding; a transformative strategic plan that resulted in increased professional capacity for the organization; the elimination of the company’s long-standing debt; the commissioning and successful world premiere of Manitoba Opera’s first main stage creation, Transit of Venus; and an increase in fundraising for the organization of more than 250 per cent.

“Peter is a strong advocate, a passionate ambassador and a skilled asker,” reads a portion of the nomination by Manitoba Opera. “He is dedicated to the cause and serves the organization selflessly. He has been a true partner in the leadership of the company.”

He re-energized the organization, inspired the board to redouble their efforts so the organization survived and has contributed financially to the company both on a personal level and with in-kind creative and advertising support at McKim Cringan George.

“There is no doubt in my mind that had Peter not stepped forward to volunteer his time, expertise, and lend financial support, Manitoba Opera would not be here today,” says nominator Larry Desrochers, General Director and CEO, Manitoba Opera.

“I’m extremely flattered and surprised by this honour,” Peter says. “I truly believe the accomplishments over the past 10 years are a testament to the entire organization and all members of the team, including, outstanding business and creative leadership from CEO Larry Desrochers. I’ve also been fortunate to serve with many outstanding board members who have worked tirelessly. And our donors have come to the table to support the company again and again and again. It’s been a team effort from day one.”

The Adjudication Committee oversees the annual selection process. This year’s committee was chaired by Vancouver Opera Past Chair Bruce Wright. Other committee members were Nada Ristich, Senior Manager, Corporate Donations, BMO Financial Group; Olga Farman, Lavery LLP, Quebec; Susan Danis, General Director, Sarasota Opera; and Rita Menzies, Festival Director, Agassiz International Chamber Music Festival.

Opera.ca’s commitment to recognizing excellence in governance is shared with sister association OPERA America through their Annual National Opera Trustee Recognition Award, in which a single honouree is chosen from each of the four OPERA America budget categories.

About Opera.ca

Opera.ca is the national association for opera companies and professionals in Canada. It seeks to create and sustain an environment that makes opera central to Canadian life. It works with members across the country to advance the interests of Canada’s opera community and create greater opportunity for opera audiences and professionals alike.

About Manitoba Opera

The 2011/12 season marks the 39th season for the only full-time professional opera company between Toronto and Calgary. Manitoba Opera serves a region, which also includes northwestern Ontario, Saskatchewan, and the Dakotas. Each year more than 25,000 people attend productions, as well as school and audience outreach programs. The MO annual operating budget is $1,850,000.

The company just closed a critically acclaimed presentation of Salome in November, will be co- presenting Dido and Aeneas in Concert with the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, February 7 and 8 at Westminster United Church, and will close the season at the Centennial Concert Hall with Donizetti’s comedy, The Daughter of the Regiment, April 21, 24, and 27.

Peter George and Opera

Peter George was born in Aberdeen, Scotland and raised in Winnipeg. He credits his parents with instilling him with a love of classical music and opera, in particular, at a young age. He sang in his high school choir and studied voice for 10 years. His first involvement with Manitoba Opera was as a chorus member in Turandot in 1980. He performed in the chorus for 10 operas over the next several years and performed with the Manitoba Opera school tours.