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Like weird foods? Jumping off gondolas? Then you'll love opera

Gangs, epic lovesickness, mistaken identities and dodgy marriages – Vancouver Opera's 2011/12 season highlights the human condition at its most extreme. But rather than rely on traditional opera shorthand (cursive script, roses, words like "sizzling" and "sensual") to get the message out, the VO has teamed up with the ad agency Taxi Vancouver to lure that ever-elusive "younger audience" to their shows.

How? Two new ads, which have run in newspapers and in restaurants, promote "gondola bungee jumping" and a "new superfood" – lamb testicles – as a way to raise opera's hip factor. According to Taxi's creative team, "Vancouver's full of young people who pride themselves on their sense of adventure. They're 'try anything once' types, whether it's unusual food, extreme sports, or going to see an obscure art exhibition. After all, how do you know you don't like [the opera]if you've never tried it?"

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Doug Tuck, director of marketing and community programming for Vancouver Opera, has another motivation. "The campaign shows that we have a sense of humour (and we do!) and it explodes the myth of opera being conservative and out of reach."

Apparently, not everyone gets the new campaign. One commenter on a marketing website at first thought the "gondola bungee jumping" was a new ride at Whistler.

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