Calgary Public Library founder celebrated through opera

The Cowtown Opera is turning up the volume at the Calgary Public Library with its new work on the life of Annie Davidson.

Cowtown Opera looks back at the life of Annie Davidson

Cowtown Opera and the Calgary Public Library present the "Annie Davidson Opera" until Sept. 27 at Festival Hall in Inglewood. (Benjamin Laird Arts & Photo)

The Cowtown Opera is turning the volume up at the Calgary Public Library.

In October, the company will be singing scenes from the Annie Davidson Opera inside several city branches.

The opera is a window into the life of Davidson, who founded the Memorial Park Library in 1912 — Calgary and Alberta's first public library.

Annie Davidson, a widow and mother of 10, helped build Calgary’s first public library in Memorial Park. (Annie Davidson Founders Society)

"She was the one who really worked towards building this community and building this library so that people could get educated ... bring people together and educate women more," said Taylor Matheson, who is performing in the opera.

Davidson also created the Calgary Women's Literary Club in 1906, which still meets today.

It's the oldest one in Canada and, according to Matheson, it takes itself quite seriously.

"It's not your living room club where you have wine and maybe discuss a book," she said. "You have pay dues and you have to present, like, two papers a year and they have themes."

(Benjamin Laird Arts & Photo)

The Annie Davidson opera runs Sept. 24 - 27 at Festival Hall in Inglewood, followed by a shorter version of the opera hosted by the Calgary Public Library. 

The pop-up operas are free and registration is not required: 

  • Saddletowne Library at 11 a.m. on Oct. 3
  • Central Library at 2 p.m. on Oct. 3
  • Shawnessy Library at 11 a.m. on Oct. 17
  • Signal Hill Library at 2 p.m. on Oct. 17
  • Crowfoot Library at 12:30 p.m. on Oct. 18
  • Fish Creek Library at 3:30 p.m. on Oct. 18
  • Country Hills Library at 11 a.m. on Oct. 24


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