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Opéra de Montréal: the 2016-2017 season

by Pauline Nesbitt March 8, 2016
Opéra de Montréal: the 2016-2017 season

The Wall, Don Giovanni, Dialogues des Carmelites and more are coming to Montreal

The Opéra de Montréal announced the lineup of its 2016-2017 season at the pressroom of the Olympic stadium on March 3. The list of performances includes Aida, Don Giovanni, Dialogues des Carmelites and La Bohème, but it was the announcement of a new operatic adaptation of The Wall by Roger Waters, a founding member of Pink Floyd, that really had people talking.

Roger Waters spoke at the Opéra de Montréal’s upcoming season announcement on March 3.

Roger Waters spoke at the Opéra de Montréal’s upcoming season announcement on March 3. Photo by Marie-Pierre Savard.

This new piece, entitled Another Brick in the Wall – the Opera, will be part of the celebrations marking Montreal’s 375th anniversary. Waters, representatives of Opéra de Montréal and Montreal’s 375th Anniversary Committee were present at the announcement.

Waters said he wrote The Wall because of an unpleasant situation that occurred at the OdM 40 years ago that involved him spitting in the face of a spectator who appeared on stage during a Pink Floyd performance. Waters explained he spat because he perceived that the audience was not really listening to the music and lacked appreciation. He admitted to being a little fuzzy about the precise details of the event, but mused that at his age his memory shouldn’t be trusted anyway. However, he said creating The Wall certainly helped him move on “from the enmity of spitting in someone’s face towards a position where love becomes more important than that enmity.”

Waters said he was initially dismissive when he was first presented with the project because most symphonic versions of rock music he had heard sounded disastrous. “They [usually] stick slavishly to the melody,” he said, which is why he has consistently rejected all requests for commercial presentations of The Wall.

Waters said he had not really been involved in the development of the project so far. Composer Julien Bilodeau has been given complete creative freedom over the music, which he said is a dream come true, but Waters remains the librettist—the words are his.

Another Brick in the Wall – the Opera will be presented next March and will feature an all-Canadian cast.

Michel Beaulac, the OdM’s artistic director, described the season’s lineup as an operatic journey spanning two centuries of music, which includes several classical works. He explained that traditionally the Opéra de Montréal launches and ends each season with popular operas that he referred to as “blockbusters.” Those would be Aida in September, a grandiose, yet tragic tale of love and betrayal that is set in politically unstable Egypt; and La Bohème in May, a tale of love, youthful dreams and illusions.

Waters has created an operatic adaptation of The Wall that will be shown in the 2016-2017 season. Photo by Marie-Pierre Savard.

Waters has created an operatic adaptation of The Wall that will be shown in the 2016-2017 season. Photo by Marie-Pierre Savard.

Beaulac said he is completely committed to casting Canadian artists as much as possible and that 80 per cent of this season’s casts are Canadian. He added that young Canadians who have taken off in the operatic world across the globe would play most of the roles in Don Giovanni. “I chose that work because I could put together all those young artists who are great ambassadors for both Montreal and for Canada,” he said.

Beaulac pointed out that staging Don Giovanni and Dialogues des Carmelites provided excellent opportunities to showcase Canadian operatic talent. He said he had deliberately included the latter opera with Montrealer Serge Denoncourt in mind because he is such a talented stage director and, “it is one of [Denoncourt’s] fetish operas—he is completely overtaken by the story.”

Beaulac remarked that planning an opera is not easy, but it is important to have the best artist for each role. This means that in addition to possessing the right singing voice, they have to look the part and be able to act the role convincingly. He said he never schedules an opera until he has succeeded in attracting the artists he wants for each role.

 

Subscriptions for the season or single tickets can be purchased at the box office at Place des Arts or at operademontreal.com. The Opéra de Montréal offers a special rate of $25 for front row seats for all their productions to all students under 30.

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