Opera on childhood and warfare
Music: Zad Moultaka
Libretto : Larry Tremblay
Staging : Pauline Vaillancourt

Zad Moultaka, music | Larry Tremblay, libretto | Pauline Vaillancourt, stage direction | Dominique Blain, stage design and video | Guy Simard, lighting | Marianne Thériault, costumes | Catherine Béliveau, video | Jacques-Lee Pelletier, make-up


Nicholas Burns, counter-tenor | Alasdair Campbell, baritone | Nathalie Paulin, soprano | Jacques Arsenault, tenor | Arthur Tanguay-Labrosse, tenor | Stéphanie Pothier, mezzo-soprano | Dion Mazerolle, baritone | Simon Chaussé, baritone | Jean Maheux, actor | Michel Ducharme (pre-recorded voice)
Nouvel Ensemble Moderne (NEM) | Lorraine Vaillancourt, conductor


Amed and Aziz are nine-year-old twin boys. They live with their parents in the orange grove that their paternal grandfather grew in the desert. One night, a bomb from the other side of the mountain falls on their grandparents’ house and kills them.

Soulayed, the army commander from a neighbouring village, comes and asks Zahed to avenge the death of his parents: he has brought with him a belt of explosives. One of the twins is to wear it and go to destroy the enemy encampments. Zahed must choose which of his sons, Amed or Aziz, will become a child suicide bomber. Choosing Aziz is out of the question to him as he suffers from a fatal illness. That would be an insult to God. Amed is the one who will go. Tamara disagrees with her husband’s choice and asks Amed to take his brother’s place. The two brothers switch places. But Amed is struck by remorse and reveals the truth to his father who throws him out of the house. Amed must go into exile in America where Tamara’s sister Dalimah takes him in.

10 years later in America, Amed is participating in a filming. The director Mikaël asks Amed to play the role of Sony, a child who faces a mercenary. Amed refuses to play this role which reminds him too much of his painful past. To justify his refusal, Amed reveals to Mikaël the true mission of his brother Aziz, who blew himself up in a crowd of a hundred children. Amed will not play the role. On the last day of filming, Amed surprises everyone, appearing in the role of Sony after all. He addresses the mercenary. For a moment, he is Sony, Aziz and Amed. He has conquered the ghosts of his tragic past. He finally talks of peace.


October 19 to 21, 2021
Monument-National, Montreal

November 5 & 6, 2021
Le Diamant, Quebec City


Co-production with Nouvel Ensemble Moderne


Where is your anger,
I don’t hear it
Vengeance is the name of
your grief

I find myself thinking about and dwelling on these powerful phrases, excerpts from the libretto by Larry Tremblay.

Unfortunate reflections of our difficult times, we cannot move past them without catching ourselves on their outlines. As a stage artist and artistic director for a creative production company, they called to me and mattered to me so much that I wanted to dive in. The beauty of the voices of Lebanese Zad Moultaka, and the rich sounds of his music from two worlds will soften us around the edges.

We cannot even explain war when it kills children.

Continuing its desire to have a voice, Chants Libres will celebrate 30 years of creation in 2020, lending its lyrical voice to the tragic and all too common destiny of the two children, Aziz and Amed, exploited at the heart of this creation, at the centre of this opera. The meeting of these two great, passionate artists, surrounded by an experienced team of creators, that’s mine, my passion, began with them quite humbly, a great adventure named L’orangeraie. The East and West will stand side by side, peacefully, at least while the magic on stage takes place. That’s my wish.

— Pauline Vaillancourt, Artistic Director of Chants Libres and Stage Director.