Canada’s Only Opera on Film “The Lake / n’-ha-a-itk” Begins Filming At Quails’ Gate Winery

Canada’s Only Opera on Film “The Lake / n’-ha-a-itk”
Begins Filming At Quails’ Gate Winery

A one-of-its-kind production, Astrolabe Musik Theatre, Westbank First Nation and Opus 59 Films are proud to begin filming The Lake / n’-ha-a-itk, Canada’s first and only opera to be shot as a film, starting May 13 at Quails’ Gate Winery in West Kelowna.

The musical film documentary The Lake / n’-ha-a-itk is an expansion of the live performances that took place at Quails’ Gate in 2014. Co-created by Astrolabe Musik Theatre, Turning Point Ensemble and Westbank First Nation (WFN), the production was based on BC composer Barbara Pentland’s historic 1952 opera and a true-life event in the life of Susan Allison. Susan, along with her husband, John, were the first European settlers in what is now West Kelowna and the story is set in 1873 at their original “Sunnyside” ranch home, lovingly restored by Quails’ Gate Winery and now known as the Allison House, when Susan saw the creature who lives in Lake Okanagan, commonly known as Ogopogo, but known and respected by the syilx/Okanagan people as n’-ha-a-itk, the sacred spirit of the lake.

“When I first discovered the unpublished score of Barbara Pentland’s The Lake in 1995, I could never have imagined how far or where this journey would lead,” remarks Heather Pawsey, Founding Artistic Director and General Manager of Astrolabe Musik Theatre, Producer of The Lake / n’-ha-a-itk, and singing the role of Susan Allison. “I am deeply honoured to be a part of sharing this unique, true story—rooted in history but continuing into our present and future—with audiences everywhere, through film, the power of music, and a respectful and joyful cross-cultural collaboration. It is a privilege to work with Westbank First Nation, Opus 59 Films and Quails’ Gate to bring this vision to life.”

The Lake / n’-ha-a-itk will be the first and only Canadian opera on film. Greatly expanding the scope and reach of the 2014 live production, The Lake / n’-ha-a-itk film incorporates segments about the ongoing collaboration between Astrolabe Musik Theatre and Westbank First Nation, featuring interviews and reflections on the opera and its creative process with key artists and collaborators in both nsyilxcən and English.

“This beautiful collaboration created a greater sense of awareness and appreciation for the original opera but also syilx/Okanagan culture for everyone involved,” says Jordan Coble, Westbank First Nation. “The performances truly broke down barriers between performance and history, audience and stage, as well as cultural understanding. This is how we will honour the path we continue to walk together.”

“Together we will build a connection … changing lives,” adds Delphine Armstrong, Westbank First Nation.

Astrolabe is proud to be working with award-winning director John Bolton of Opus 59 Films in bringing this important story to the screen. Filming will take place from May 13 to 17 and May 20 to 24 at Quails’ Gate Winery in West Kelowna, giving the public a unique opportunity to view the filming onsite (note, Quails’ Gate and Old Vines Restaurant will be open during their regularly scheduled hours during the filming).

“Our family is proud to be a part of this historical documentary,” says Tony Stewart, Proprietor & CEO of Quails’ Gate Winery. “When our Dad purchased the Sunnyside Ranch in the 1950’s, we knew the Allison House was incredibly important to our community. As a tribute to the enduring spirit of Susan Allison, we applied to the Historic Sights and Monuments Board of Canada to have the home designated as a Building of National Historical Significance to ensure that her legacy and memory lives on at our property.”

To learn more about Astrolabe Musik Theatre and The Lake / n’-ha-a-itk documentary, click here.




Astrolabe Musik Theatre creates compelling, multi-disciplinary works, frequently performed in site-specific/alternative venues, by pushing traditional boundaries of classical vocal music.

By imaginatively reinterpreting established repertoire and creating original work, we create cultural connections, reach out to diverse communities and foster active audience engagement. Particularly passionate about Canadian creators and performers, Astrolabe is dedicated to creating, commissioning, and performing works by Canadian artists. For more information, visit



As one of Canada’s foremost family owned and operated estate wine producers, we are dedicated to crafting exceptional quality wines and creating memorable wine and food experiences for our guests. With luxurious lakefront accommodations, an award-winning restaurant and a variety of tour and tasting experiences, we look forward to helping our guests create their perfect Okanagan moment. Quails’ Gate was recently named one of Canada’s ‘Best Managed Companies’ by Deloitte in 2017 and 2018. For more information, visit


Media release and images provided by Lindsay Kelm, Kelm Communications.

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