Should we save opera in Quebec?

Lyrical art is not doing well in Quebec. This is the sad observation made by baritone Marc Boucher, director of the Festival Classica, which will take place from May 27 to June 19 at various locations on the South Shore. In the long run, however, it was the creation of a New Metropolitan Opera that covered him. A path to safety for opera on Quebec soil?

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Emmanuel Bernier
special collaboration

“There was a golden age of professional opera nights in Quebec in the early 2000s,” recalls the singer, who has been in the business itself since then.

According to his own count, the number of parties has ranged from fifty to twenty since the passage of the third millennium.

We see ourselves today with less work for a generation. This is paradoxical, because at the same time, there is a completely extraordinary generation of opera singers. We must give these people a way to earn a living from their art in Quebec.

Marc Boucher, baritone

“It’s not just a question of going back to the level of the 2000s. I want to go further”, said the man who says he aims for up to 80 professional opera nights per year in creating his New Metropolitan Opera. , which he sees in residence in an 870-seat hall to be built soon on the South Shore, a project that the administrator qualifies as “completely concrete”.

But how to attract new audiences, when major lyrical institutions (Quebec and Montreal) sometimes find it difficult to fill their rooms? “Big question, answers Marc Boucher. The fewer performances in Quebec, the less we get to know the artists. Actually, it’s a bit of a chicken and the egg.”

“We are about fifteen, maybe twenty Quebec artists working in France. We are better known there than here! We have to get people to discover and love our artists, to identify with them, ”argues the baritone.

Obviously it’s not without risk, but if we don’t try, the answer there is: let’s close the singing faculties! How come the theater, with approximately 400 productions per year in Quebec, is so popular and we, lyrical artists, are virtually out of the media scene?

Marc Boucher, baritone

Among the ways of attracting music lovers, Marc Boucher campaigned for a great return to operetta, a genre that had an abundance in Quebec, especially in Variétés lyriques, in the 1930s to 1950s. It was also successful. tried by Quebec about ten years. rabbit.

“When I was rehearsing at the Opéra de Montréal, we performed operetta, and the operetta was very successful. I think it’s part of Quebec’s DNA, ”the singer said.

So far, Festival Classica, which he has directed for 12 years, has immediately announced three operas in the program for its 2023 edition: The man laughsa work by Airat Ichmouratov based on Victor Hugo’s eponymous novel, The lovely Belboula Massenet operetta rediscovered in 2017, and Miguelathe last opera by Théodore Dubois, never given in the complete version.

Wouldn’t it be difficult, at these high marks, to attract an audience that is having a hard time becoming interested in lyrical art once you leave the canon? CarmentraviataBohemia ? “I’m betting that by offering these works, the public will be there”, was Marc Boucher’s simple answer.

And money remains, as always, the roots of the war. The director of Classica clearly relies on the public subsidies from which his organization already benefits, but also on the economies of scale caused by the troupe model he wants to use for his New Metropolitan Opera: instead of just taking on artists. singer freelancer, will do theater. there are several artists in residence who enjoy the salary to participate in certain productions each year. The use of lighter and more versatile sets, with the help of digital arts, will also do, according to him, which will make the operation viable.

An ambitious project, agrees with the main interested party, but it is important to animate our artists and fill the Quebec opera.

Also in the program

A grasshopper goldsmith in Bourgie


Expert harpsichordist Pierre Hantaï

An unloved instrument, the harpsichord? The grievance of monotony that is often counted here disappears once you open your ears carefully to understand all the subtleties that this plucked string instrument allows. And a master, the Frenchman Pierre Hantaï, to whom we owe a legendary recording Goldberg Variationswill officiate on the Bourgie Hall stage on May 13 at 7:30 pm On the menu: gems by Bach, Handel, Froberger, Byrd and Bull.

(Again) explore the organ at Marie-Reine-des-Coeurs


The Marie-Reine-des-Cœurs sanctuary, at the eastern end of Montreal, contains an organ of Casavant.

Want to get off the marked paths? Walking to the eastern end of Montréal you have to hear the stunning Casavant organ with mechanical action (2 keyboards, 30 stops) of the Marie-Reine-des-Cœurs sanctuary (Cadillac metro station). Free recitals will be given there every Friday in May from 12:15 pm Holder Yves-G. Préfontaine (May 13), Aldéo Jean (May 20) and Matthieu Latreille (May 27) will follow each other to the tribune of the Montfortian sanctuary. Be careful, you might taste it!

A meeting at height


Conductor Jean-François Rivest

A rarity: Quebec’s two major string orchestras, Violons du Roy and I Musici, will reunite under the direction of Jean-François Rivest on May 26 (7:30 pm) at Salle Pierre-Mercure and on May 28 ( 19). h 30) sa Diamant de Québec. The two ensembles will face two milestones in the string repertoire, namely the Long concerto (nobones 1, 8 and 11) by Corelli and the colossal night transformed of Schoenberg. As a bonus: the creation of a joint commission made with Canadian composer Stacey Brown.

L ‘Eroica for “health heroes”


Pianist Jean-Philippe Sylvestre, seen here performing with the Orchester Métropolitain, will perform with the Orchester Classique on May 27th.

The Orchester Classique de Montréal will end its season in style on May 27 at the Maison symphonique with a concert-tribute to the healthcare personnel who dedicated themselves during the pandemic. Who says “hero” says “joy”, and under the happy patronage that the program is put, which consists of bright Symphony No. 3known as “Eroica”, and the choral fantasy by Beethoven, an author announcing the last symphony of the German master. Chef Jacques Lacombe was at the pulpit with Les Filles de l’île, Les Chantres Musiciens and pianist Jean-Philippe Sylvestre (for Fancy).

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