30 years ago, Pauline Vaillancourt brought to life the vocal creation company Chants Libres with stage director Joseph Saint-Gelais and writer Renald Tremblay. We will celebrate this anniversary with a series of articles on our blog which will retrace the history of this company. This will be an opportunity to look back on different productions that have marked our journey, taking to heart the views of both vocal artists and other creators who have been a part of this great adventure.

In this first article you will discover the genesis of the creation of Chants Libres. Interview with its founder, Pauline Vaillancourt.

Why did you found Chants Libres?
First of all, we wanted to give a privileged outlet to composers so that they could speak about present times, and we tried to give a fresh breath of air to opera while doing so. We hoped this art form would ask questions and would open and even break down doors, all the while turning towards the future with the element of creation.

What was the context during the time of its founding?
In the 80s and over the course of more than 10 years, I was building my career in Europe and was a soloist for several original productions. I was able to observe the political cultural progress in this domain, so I was able to more easily convince sponsors from here about the necessity of bringing together creators from all disciplines to the service of the voice.


Pauline Vaillancourt performing Récitations (George Aperghis)

How did the other founders, Joseph Saint-Gelais and Renald Tremblay, take part in the adventure?
One doesn’t start up such an adventure alone! We were accomplices. We did everything together on the same level: administration, direction, etc. When it came to the stage, they were the creating artists for the first two productions and I was the principal performer. Renald also wrote the libretto for our 3rd production.

Who decided on the name Chants Libres to illustrate this thirst for freedom?
I am not sure anymore. In 1990, the company was named Chants Libres, compagnie lyrique Pauline Vaillancourtand in 1998, it became Chants Libres, compagnie lyrique de création.

Read the article (in French)


Michèle Labrèche-Larouche, Châtelaine, October, 1991


If Chants Libres had a signature, what would it be?
A signature of quality, without concessions.

What were the principal difficulties on foundation of the company?
It goes without saying that we were mostly volunteer. We staked out at my place, like at the beginning of many young companies, and we had to opt for a first production with just one performer… namely myself in Ne blâmez jamais les bédouins.

French Version