How did your collaboration on this opera project begin?
With a telephone call from “Chants libres.” In fact, it was Pauline Vaillancourt who, after reading L’orangeraie, had the idea to suggest that I produce a libretto on this. A short time earlier, I had just produced the stage adaptation that Claude Poissant had directed at the Théâtre Denise-Pelletier. So, I created two or three versions of the libretto, based on Pauline’s comments, before a first meeting with Zad Moultaka, which convinced me to continue my adaptation work, which would continue at new meetings with the composer.
Tell us about the libretto L’orangeraie.
Of course, it’s the same story as in the novel, but expressed in a more lyrical, rhythmic and concise form. I laid out the entire text in free verse, deleted episodes, merged locations, and highlighted the choral sections. To have another female voice in the work dominated by male voices, I also transferred text marked for a male character to a female character. Above all, I deleted—or replaced with other words—words with a sound quality that might make them laborious to sing. This work will continue throughout my collaboration with the composer.
Your favourite instrument?
Hard to say. I love music, not necessarily musical instruments. However, I have a soft spot for percussion. For many years, I studied kathakali—classical dance theatre from southern India that can also be considered an operatic form, because everything played or danced on stage is also expressed at the same time by singers—so, I feel a special attachment to chenda and maddalam, the drums that accompany the actors’ movements. I would also add, the human voice singing.
Latest favourite CD, show, exhibition, series or film?
Coriolan directed by Robert Lepage
An excerpt of L’orangeraie will be presented at Oper’Actuel – Works in progress 2019 by Nouvel Ensemble Moderne (Lorraine Vaillancourt, conductor).