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People You Should Know in New West: Meet Lance Ryan

International opera star earns Douglas College's 2021 Distinguished Alumni Award
Tenor Lance Ryan
Opera star Lance Ryan has received Douglas College's 2021 Distinguished Alumni Award.

Who is Lance Ryan?

An operatic tenor with a successful international career


Why is he in the news?

He’s a Douglas College alumnus and recent recipient of the college’s 2021 Distinguished Alumni Award.


What’s on his resumé?

A heckuva lot – but let’s check out a few highlights, courtesy of a Douglas College press release.

Lance arrived at Douglas College in 1989 to pursue the university transfer music program, with a focus in classical guitar, before completing his degree at the University of British Columbia. In his final year at Douglas, Lance recognized his passion for vocal performance and began training with local voice coaches.

He pursued further vocal training in Italy and, in 2002, won the Associazione Lirica e Concertistica Italiana (AsLiCo), a European competition for young singers in the opera, before moving to Germany in 2005, where he became a principal artist of the Badisches Staatstheatre in Karlsruhe.  

Lance’s career has taken him to some of the most highly regarded stages in the world, including London’s Covent Garden, New York’s Metropolitan Opera and Vienna’s Wiener Staatsoper. He’s a classic operatic “heldentenor” (or heroic tenor) known for his principal roles and performances in such operas as Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen, Verdi’s Otello and Benjamin Britten’s Peter Grimes.


What makes him stand out?

Well, if all of that wasn’t enough, Lance has also performed at many benefit concerts for organizations such as the Critter Care Wildlife Society, the Peninsula Arts Foundation, PETA and the Douglas College Alumni Association. The funds from the alumni concert were used to create the Lance Ryan Vocal Award of Distinction, an annual award given to promising Douglas College grads.

He also frequently speaks to young singers about careers in the performing arts.

“Having a successful career singing was always a dream and not something I necessarily thought I could actually achieve,” he says. “I’d received financial help and mentorship from others in my early career, so it feels right to give back.”  


What do people say about Lance?

David Boothroyd, former music director of Burnaby Lyric Opera and coach of the UBC Opera Ensemble, was one of Lance’s first opera coaches.

“I have been fortunate to have worked and performed with Lance Ryan for over 25 years,” he says. “In a time when theatre is struggling, Lance’s impressive career and skill reminds us of the power and value of live performance. Douglas College should certainly be extremely proud to count Lance among its alumni.”  

People You Should Know is a new feature planned to regularly showcase notable folks in New Westminster (or with ties to the New West community).

Do you know someone who deserves a mention – a community volunteer, an unsung hero, a student achiever, an award winner, a person who just plain makes the world a better place? 

Let us know! Email Julie, [email protected], or find her on Twitter @juliemaclellan.