Prélude à l’Opéra: Creation and the vertigo of absence

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

Mikaël, the author, enters the theatre (Ludger-Duvernay Hall in the Monument-National) holding in his hands a kite and a lamp, which traditionally lights the stage and the hall of empty theatres, and… a rifle. The tone is set. A drama, or rather two dramas, will play out before our eyes. This is an absolute must-see!

First of all, the drama felt through the emptiness of the hall brings into our minds the virus of desertion. The battle of Mikaël, the author (Sébastien Ricard): to evoke a story, musicians, singers and an upcoming performance. For him this means haunting this space of ghosts that was born out of his creative reflection, leading us to imagine, but especially to hear!

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The second drama is the telling of a story of twin brothers in which one of them must become the kamikaze for a fundamentalist cause. One of the twins is terminally ill, but the father wants to sacrifice the other twin because “if not, it wouldn’t be a true sacrifice…”.

Filmed last October by Manuel A. Codina and Pauline Vaillancourt, the staging by the Chants Libres artistic director uses simple but very strong movement to evoke the heartrending emotions of the characters: an empty chair at centre stage; a devastated mother slowly scratching off her veil; a candelabra on the ground with fragile flames that tremble at the smallest breath of air; the twins overlooking the emptiness of the orchestra pit as if it were a crater left by the bomb that destroyed their house and, later, their lives. 

The chosen inevitability of fate

Voices are raised, supported by cleverly-sculpted music and interpreted with much sparkle and brilliance even in the softest pianissimi of the Nouvel Ensemble Moderne (NEM), directed by Lorraine Vaillancourt. In turns, the musicians and singers appear and then disappear into the light. Mikaël invites them, at times summons them, thereby reminding the spectator of the fleeting nature of creation during a pandemic.

At times the voices come together, singing in unison, in canon, and then dividing again into opposition and wailing out contrary emotions. Almost obsessive, a sad song fills the space and inflames the spirit. Effective, long spans of music slowly and insidiously reveal the inevitability of the drama, the fate of child soldiers, the absence of a semblance of a future… and the price it costs! 

A fully-fledged work

This Prélude à l’Opéra unveils itself as a fully-fledged work which, like a symphonic or lyric overture, gives a taste of all the musical themes, but also – and especially – the indecision and the suffering of each character. The final product will be revealed to us at the full production of the opera L’Orangeraie. This story is inspired by the eponymous novel by Larry Tremblay, who developed the libretto for the score composed by Zad Moultaka, which Chants Libres will create in the fall. 

Remember that Prélude à l’Opéra and L’Orangeraie are co-productions with Chants Libres and the NEM. 

Prélude à l’opéra – premiere: Thursday January 21, 8pm. Available until January 24. Length: 28 minutes. SCENA discount: 1 ticket at $10 instead of $15 using the promo code SCENA with payment at

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


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