Patrick Corrigan: “We have to take measured risks.”

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Opéra de Montréal general director Patrick Corrigan speaks to La Scena Musicale about the 2021-22 season.

On Verdi’s La Traviata in a production inspired by the entertainer Josephine Baker and Paris in the Jazz Age:

“[Baker] was defined by the fact that she was an artist, an American, and by race. She took Paris by storm but certainly would not be considered a suitable match for well-bred young man. So we have the same sort of plot construct. She takes up with a well-bred young man. Controversy ensues, and sacrifice.

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“We thought this was a chic new approach. The idea of a 19th-century courtesan is difficult now to relate to.”

On the world premiere of Julien Bilodeau and Michel Marc Bouchard’s La beauté du monde, an opera about a heroic quest to protect the Louvre from Nazi looting:

“We’re in the Théâtre Maisonneuve for this because the creators wanted to create an intimacy with the piece. But it is fully staged opera, a big show with a big chorus and a beautiful set and costumes.”

“This is something that is so geared to us. The whole idea of the meaning of art, its role in defining our humanity and the violence of looting it. It’s pertinent to our moment. Where do artists fit in our society? What are we to do when our arts are threatened? And as we reopen, what place are we going to make in our lives for art?

“This is a story we can all relate to. It is a true story and the characters are phenomenally interesting. It is a great opera plot and a Michel Marc Bouchard drama.”

On the stellar Canadians in La beauté du monde:

“I think artists today recognize the importance of involving themselves in new work. And Canadian artists recognize the importance of playing key roles in the development of Canadian work.

“Today, new opera is in much greater demand than it used to be. And to be honest, I think any serious career needs to have those credentials.

“These are artists that [OdM artistic director] Michel Beaulac has supported for years. It’s a bit of a homecoming for everybody. A great piece and a great cause, that we hope will have a tremendous impact.”

On the international cast of the Barrie Kosky production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute:

“The producers felt strongly that we should use people who have [participated in this production]before just because the physical technicalities are so demanding. You have the giant screen and 20 feet in the air you have the artist strapped into a revolving door. So that they are then part of a ‘film’ that is projected on the screen.

“You’ve got up-and-comers from the States, England, Slovakia, all kinds of places. Young singers who are having impressive careers and singing in big houses.”

On the Atelier double bill of Riders to the Sea (Ralph Vaughan Williams and John Millington Synge) and Le flambeau de la nuit (Hubert Tanguay-Labrosse and Olivier Kemeid):

“We’re big admirers of Ballet-Opéra-Pantomime. The idea of Riders to the Sea and a companion piece really came from them. There is no break. The cast of one opera becomes the cast of the next opera.”

“Le flambeau de la nuit is based on the migrant experience. Both operas have the essential qualities of Greek tragedy, which is very symbolic. The two operas fold into each other to explore tragedy, loss at sea and motherhood.”

“It’s exciting for us to work with Hubert and Olivier. That is important to us, making sure that these wonderful artists here in Montreal are working in opera and telling these stories.”

On why the mainstage season starts in 2022:

“We based this [decision]on what was happening all over the continent. These productions can’t be done with distancing measures. There are too many people backstage, too many people in the pit.

“We are extremely hopeful that there won’t be any problems in the new year. But it remains unpredictable. This is our best guess at how to handle everything.

“We have budgeted for a gradual return, just to manage risk. We would expect to sell out a house for La Traviata. That’s not what we have budgeted for now. It could take people a little while to come back.

“In all the art forms we have to take measured risks and manage those risks. We’ve been conservative with our box office [projections]. I would be delighted if we are surprised.”

www.operademontreal.com

This page is also available in / Cette page est également disponible en: Francais (French)

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