La Reine-Garçon – A New Work by Michel Marc Bouchard and Julien Bilodeau at the Opéra de Montréal

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Montreal, December 11, 2018 – The Opéra de Montréal announces a new opera, La Reine-Garçon, with a libretto by Michel Marc Bouchard and music by Julien Bilodeau, which will be presented in Montreal and in Toronto in 2023. This work, the first to be co-commissioned by the Opéra de Montréal and the Canadian Opera Company in Toronto, once again substantiates Montreal’s undeniably important role in creating a new opera repertoire showcasing our greatest homegrown talents.

The popular and critical success of the opera Les Feluettes, which had its world premiere at the Opéra de Montréal in May 2016, confirmed Montrealers’ passion for works that reflect the perspectives of Quebec artists on stories that are universal in scope. It is in this spirit that the company commissioned the creative duo of Michel Marc Bouchard and Julien Bilodeau to write a work entitled La beauté du monde—announced last spring— which will be given its world premiere in 2021.

“We are thrilled to offer our audiences this exciting new operatic adventure by two of Montreal’s most eminent artists,” says Patrick Corrigan, General Director of the Opéra de Montréal. “The Opéra de Montréal is truly delighted to partner with the Canadian Opera Company in our first co-commission of a new work together.”

Michel Beaulac, Artistic Director of the Opéra de Montréal, explains: “Free, assured, both powerful and fragile, Christina of Sweden broke the mould imposed upon her in her day to fully exercise her freedom as a woman. The contemporaneity and relevance of the subject matter called for a new opera. In his libretto, an always inspired Michel Marc Bouchard confirms that he is destined for the operatic world.”

THE WORK

La Reine-Garçon is based on the play Christine, la reine-garçon, by Michel Marc Bouchard, which was presented for the first time at the Théâtre du Nouveau Monde in Montreal in 2012 and has since been performed numerous times around the world. The work is inspired by Sweden’s Queen Christina, whose scandalously flamboyant and unconventional reign came to an end when she abdicated the throne at the age of 27. The opera focuses more specifically on a tumultuous period in the young monarch’s life, when a visit from French philosopher René Descartes led her to call into question everything that had defined her to date… even her love for Countess Ebba Sparre.

The work is the first to be co-commissioned by the Opéra de Montréal and the Canadian Opera Company in Toronto. On that matter, Alexander Neef, General Director of the COC, states: “We are delighted to be partnering with Opéra de Montréal on La Reine-Garçon. Collaborations like this are key to unlocking the potential of Canadian operatic storytelling.”

A WORD FROM THE CREATORS

“This story is about the foundation of modern society and the birth of great ideas that shaped the principles of humanism that are still, and even more, relevant today,” he says. “Free spirit, gender equality, and scientific knowledge – just to name a few – are well addressed in this beautiful text and Christine, the reine-garçon, embodies all, making her the perfect subject for an opera. She is ahead of her time and asks forbidden questions because she seeks to know who we are as human beings.”

“Working with Michel Marc is a true privilege,” adds Bilodeau. “His gift for words and his sensibility for music has led to a collaboration that is rightly challenging for me, as a composer.”

“It is a pleasure for me to work with Julien,” explains Michel Marc Bouchard. “He is a true source of inspiration. Julien’s musical writing is masterful and incorporates the lyricism and sensitivity required to portray the many sides of Sweden’s queen. Whether we are creating scenes of great intimacy or epic grandeur, Julien can convey both the most delicate and most powerful of emotions.”

THE OPÉRA DE MONTRÉAL: modern works and classics, side by side

After having presented 21st century works for the past five seasons, the Opéra de Montréal has come to recognize its audience’s keen interest in modern operas, which comfortably coexist alongside classics of the repertoire, for long-time fans and newcomers alike. These new works, veritable adventures that attract a diverse pool of artists and focus on extremely varied themes, demonstrate the extent to which opera is a relevant, wide-ranging, and profoundly modern art form.

New works presented in the last five years

2019 – Twenty-Seven, by Ricky Ian Gordon and Royce Vavrek

2019 – Champion, by Terence Blanchard and Michael Cristofer

2018 – Svabda, by Ana Sokolovic

2018 – JFK, by David T. Little and Royce Vavrek

2017 – Another Brick in the Wall – The Opera, by composer Julien Bilodeau, after the words and music of The Wall by Roger Waters

2016 – Les Feluettes, by Michel Marc Bouchard and Kevin March

2015 – Silent Night, by Kevin Puts and Mark Campbell

2014 – Dead Man Walking, by Jake Heggie

History of world premieres at the company

2017 – Another Brick in the WallThe Opera, by composer Julien Bilodeau, after the words and music of The Wall by Roger Waters

2016 – Les Feluettes, by Michel Marc Bouchard and Kevin March

2002 – Thérèse Raquin, by Tobias Picker

1990 – Nelligan, by André Gagnon and Michel Tremblay

THE CREATORS

Librettist – Michel Marc Bouchard (Canada)

Playwright, screenwriter, and exhibition curator Michel Marc Bouchard has written some twenty plays including Les Feluettes (Lilies), Les Muses orphelines (The Orphan Muses), L’Histoire de l’oie (The Tale of Teeka), Le Chemin des passes dangereuses (Down Dangerous Passes Road), and, most recently, Tom à la ferme (Tom at the Farm), Christine, la reine-garçon (The Girl King), andLa Divine illusion (The Divine). His works, translated into more than fifteen languages, have been performed in major theatres in Quebec, Canada, and abroad, as well as at some of the most renowned international festivals. A recipient of the National Arts Centre Award, the Chalmers Award, the Dora Mavor Moore Award, the Prix de l’Association québécoise des critiques de théâtre, the Primo Arte Candoni (Italy), the Prix de SACD (Paris), and the Lambda Literary Award (New York), he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2005, a Chevalier de l’Ordre du Québec in 2012, and a member of the Académie des Lettres du Québec in 2015. His plays Les Feluettes, Les Muses orphelines, L’Histoire de l’oie (Gémeau for Best Dramatic Work, 1998), Les Grandes chaleurs, Tom à la ferme (Critics Award, Venice Film Festival, 2013), and The Girl King have been adapted for the screen. After having written Les Feluettes, his first opera libretto for the Opéra de Montréal, Michel Marc Bouchard is currently at work on his second and third operas, La beauté du monde and La Reine-Garçon. For further information on Michel Marc Bouchard, seewww.michelmarcbouchard.com

Composer – Julien Bilodeau (Canada)

Julien Bilodeau was born in Quebec City in 1974. He graduated from the Conservatoire de musique de Montréal, then spent five years in France and Germany before returning to Montreal to pursue his career as a composer. Known for his rich, varied, and open aesthetics, his preference for the symphonic repertoire has enabled him to work with the Orchestre symphonique de Montreìal (K. Nagano), the Orchestre Meìtropolitain (Y. Neìzet-Seìguin), the Philharmonic Orchestra of the Americas, the Orchestre de la Francophonie (J-P. Tremblay), the Nouvel Ensemble Moderne (L. Vaillancourt), Ensemble Itineìraire (Paris), I Musici (J-M. Zeitouni), and the Ensemble Modern (Frankfurt). He is currently credited with over 30 works, including Another Brick in The Wall – The Opera, a composition for which he recently received an Opus Award for Composer of the Year from the Conseil québécois de la musique. He is currently working on the opera La beauté du monde, to a libretto by Michel Marc Bouchard. Further information: julienbilodeau.com 

About the Opéra de Montréal

Well-established in Montreal, at the crossroads of North American and European culture, the Opéra de Montréal acts as a catalyst for the city’s artistic creativity and celebrates Quebec and Canada’s rich vocal heritage, showcasing opera at its most diverse and daring. From great classics of the opera repertoire and innovative new works from home and abroad, to a training program for the finest young Canadian singers and outreach efforts in the community and educational system, the Opéra de Montréal offers unforgettable operatic events at which everyone is warmly received and feels welcome. For further information: operademontreal.com

About the Canadian Opera Company

Based in Toronto, the Canadian Opera Company is the largest producer of opera in Canada and one of the largest in North America. The COC enjoys a loyal audience support-base and one of the highest attendance and subscription rates in North America. Under its leadership team of General Director Alexander Neef and Music Director Johannes Debus, the COC is increasingly capturing the opera world’s attention. The COC maintains its international reputation for artistic excellence and creative innovation by creating new productions within its diverse repertoire, collaborating with leading opera companies and festivals, and attracting the world’s foremost Canadian and international artists. The COC performs in its own opera house, the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, hailed internationally as one of the finest in the world. Designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects, the Four Seasons Centre opened in 2006. For more information on the COC, visit coc.ca.

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