« Le véritable intérêt de l’œuvre reste la performance étonnante de Pauline Vaillancourt. Elle nous confirme sans cesse qu’elle est plus qu’une chanteuse, qu’elle est un véritable tragédienne lyrique du XXe siècle. »
– Dominique Olivier, Voir (Canada), 25 septembre 1991
« Ne blâmez jamais les bédouins est la première manifestation de Chants Libres, compagnie lyrique de création que vient de lancer Pauline Vaillancourt. Je crois qu’il s’agit de débuts très prometteurs. »
– Claude Gingras, La Presse (Canada), 20 septembre 1991
“… a consistent good bet for the new music seeker…”
— The New Mexico Sun News, USA
“… tour-de-force performance. Bracing and original.”
— Montreal Mirror, Québec
In the middle of the Great Australian Desert, a hideous myopic monster named Flip, approaches a young Italian opera singer, Michaëla, who is tied to railroad tracks at the foot of a high cliff. On a ledge of the aforementioned cliff, a young Teuton, name Weulf, watches the scene in desperation.
From each end of the railroad tracks, we hear the radio traffic from two teams of military conveys led by Father Christmas and Stalin. They are charging towards each other as part of the Goliath and Goliath operation. Father Christmas becomes insane and his brigade of helicopters, the South Belvedere Patrol, refuses to turn back as they are ordered to by their commander, the Green Goblin, who has learned about the presence of Flip and Michaëla on the tracks, and decides to escort then with great pomp and ceremony to their victory.
Scorched by the relentless sun, Michaëla, Flip and Weulf become one single character, the Beast, who is then attacked by the trains and the helicopters.
Love Songs Opéra by Ana Sokolović, a piece written in 16 movements, presents a woman who sings about love, who sings the simple words «I love you» in 100 different languages. A woman, a mother, a lover, a widow, a child who experiences the great mosaic made from all the colours of the world, of every epoch and every stage of love. An opera created for solo voice and saxophone, Love Songs Opéra is an updated version of the original created in 2008; a great adventure that Marie-Annick Béliveau has chosen to share with Jean Derome. The saxophone represents the orchestra as much as perfume from the Orient, a happy companion, an accomplice, a commentator, a friendly foe, and an object of desire.
A meeting of two exceptional artists, two electrifying performers directed by the choreographer, dancer and musician, Frédérick Gravel, who recently amazed the Montréal artistic scene with his production of Some Hope for the Bastards.
Interlude — Doves I
Tableau 1 — amour pur — amour fol
Interlude — Doves II
Tableau 2 — amour tendre
Interlude — Doves III
Tableau 3 — amour enfantin
Interlude — Doves IV
Tableau 4 — amour mature
How do I love Thee?
Tableau 5 — amour en deuil
Poème 65 — Catulle
Poème 101 AUX MANES DE SON FRÈRE — Catulle
“Il est de ces soirées dont on ne sort pas entièrement indemnes, tant la portée du discours musical est forte. L’engagement de la mezzo-soprano Marie-Annick Béliveau, accompagnée par Jean Derome au saxophone, envers ces Love Songs est absolu: en 50 minutes très intenses, nous passons par toute la gamme des émotions.”
– Claudine Jacques, L’Opéra (Canada), November 15, 2017
“Into Spain’s past via a new and entrancing opera… From the composer and librettist through the artistic and muscial directors, the production exude, purposefulness and sense of smooth collaboration… what makes this production an absolute pleasure: the fabulous inventive set and lighting design… crisply intelliogent staging… appropriately evocation of a classical past…”
Alan Conter, The Globe and Mail (Canada), November 24, 2001
“Un coup de théâtre à l’opéra… la magie opère à coup sûr et on ne s’y ennuie pas une minute durant leur trois quart que dure le spectacle… La mise en scène ultracréative et ludique de Wajdi Mouawad et les éclairages d’une vision kaléidoscopique d’Axel Morgenthaler… On nage en plein surréalisme et Manuscrit trouvé à Saragosse est tout sauf ce qu’on a déjà pu voir sur une scène d’opéra. Une fantasmagorie efficace et une distribution convaincante des deux côtés de la production font de cet opéra nouveau un show qu’il faut voir.”
Guy Marceau, La Presse (Canada), November 23, 2001
Alfons van Worden, capitaine de la garde wallon du roi d’Espagne, traverse la Sierra Morena afin de se rendre à son régiment. Rencontrées dans une auberge déserte (ou en rêve?), il apprend qu’en tant que descendant de la famille Gomelez, il est destiné à d’importantes missions. Mais il doit affronter de nombreuses épreuves. Dans le château mystérieux d’un cabaliste, il écoute des histoires extraordinaires. Le cabaliste dispute son âme à un rationaliste et mathématicien, Velasquez, et van Worden est mêlé à une multitude de situations fantastiques et comiques où il rencontre d’incroyables personnages.
A young girl named Julie is found three weeks after going missing. A psychologist speaks with her to find out why she hid with her dog in her grandmother’s basement, at the foot of her grandmother’s corpse. Why won’t she talk? Because that was the night her grandmother gave her the dream of Pacamambo.
“The story is simple, beautiful and touching, the music is subtle, spare and very contemporary, the direction is dynamic, ingenious and refined, the design is multi-coloured and inventive, the performance of the five singers are as lively as they are impeccable, and there is a perfect symbiosis of the musical duo. It almost certainly made the audience think: “Oh, that’s opera? Well, I like it…””
Dominique Lachance, Le Journal de Montréal (Canada), December 4, 2002
“… Zack Settel’s abstract and very modern melodies are blended with rap lyrics that speak to young people in a language they can understand, and that will bring them to other worlds, to the unknown…”
Ève Dumas, La Presse (Canada), December 3, 2002
“…this successful new production by Chants Libres is a minor miracle on a scenic level… the characters seem tailor-made for the performers… the children will love them all. Pauline Vaillancourt wanted to create poetic opera for young audiences. She and her entire creative team should be proud of the result.”
François Tousignant, Le Devoir (Canada), December 2, 2002
“L’archange is obviously a very hard and tense piece with powerful performance and visual elements. […] the most tangible proof of the effectiveness of a performance is the incredible silent silence that floats in the room between the judge’s last strike of the gavel, and the beginning of the applause.” Patrick Mathieu, Theatre Forum (Canada), March 1, 2006
“L’excès même de l’opéra. Cet ensemble opératique nous envoûte. Car l’effet de cette œuvre sur le spectateur est indéniable. […] une performance magistrale dont on ressent immanquablement toute la force. Le lieu et son exploitation par la scénographie y sont aussi pour beaucoup. La musique qui les soutient est en constante convulsion. Persistante, obsédante, elle est un véritable flux sonore. Elle sait rendre tout l’excessif de ce projet d’opéra, fondé sur un registre du débordement et du chaotique.”
Sylvie Campeau, Etc (Canada), December 1, 2005
“… les voix s’unissent en un trio presque digne de figurer aux côtés de celui du Chevalier à la rose de Strauss.”
François Tousignant, Le Devoir (Canada), May 2, 2005
“Le texte est assorti de musique provenant d’un peu partout et d’une prodigieuse installation vidéo. […] le comédien joue avec vérité, les trois femmes sont fortes, vocalement et dramatiquement.”
Claude Gingras, La Presse (Canada), April 30, 2005
“There is a transcendent promise of beauty from Chants Libres, our principal exponent of out-there opera.”
Arthur Kaptainis, The Gazette (Canada), April 30, 2005
“La compagnie Chants Libres aligne depuis 1990 les créations les plus iconoclastes et renouvelle à chaque fois les conventions opératiques. Rien n’arrête le désir de Pauline Vaillancourt de faire sortir l’opéra de ses gonds.”
Réjean Beaucage, Voir (Canada), April 28, 2005
A judge decides to try the Archangel of Evil in absentia. He lays out the charges. The only witness willing and able to defend the Archangel is the artist, in the name of the works of art that evil has inspired. But can beauty acquit him? As the trial progresses and the witnesses are called to the bar, the judge loses control of the proceedings and is overcome by the growing confusion. The trial is suspended and the Archangel escapes judgement. The initial folly of the judge, which was coherent because it was idealistic, becomes incoherent madness as he is forced to confront evil.
In an environment where various musical styles, virtual and real universes, robotics and intelligent fabrics are the norm… what happens to physical human relationships?
The internet is a place where anyone can tell their story, broadcast their idea, display themselves, reinvent themselves. It is a place where journalism, fact and fiction coexist and the concept of absolute truth is impossible. It is a place where the love of music is front and centre. William Benjamin observed the impact that the recorded medium had on memory and culture some fifty years ago. Now the recording, and techniques once reserved for studio producers, have become the musical instruments of our time, The history of recorded music seems imbedded in our collective memory. How many times do we hear a tune many years after the original release and still remember every change, every word? But if we are to hear it again, perhaps we can make it new by a remix! There is a joy to this constant rediscovery, recontextualisation and rebirth. At the age of 21, I had my own first experience of the power of popular culture when I decided that I should actually give the Rolling Stones a chance, and so I bought a two-LP set called “Hot Rocks” and sang along to every song, with complete knowledge of all the tunes and words. Popular music is “ear glue.” It just sticks.
Tonight you are in a high-tech bar filled with images and sound. Our story begins with a blues tune, apparently sung in karaoke, but quickly sounds become multilayered, cut up, and our sonic identity dissolves into waves of different musics, each one offering a potential identity or style by which one could live. Does our culture then reject the monad of the single story and embrace the complexity? Or are there still some fundamental issues to deal with in this new, complex, and demanding playground?
— John Oliver
Alternate Visions emerged from my interest in exploring the intimacy and alienation present in our contemporary society.
Our wired connections provide a sense of intimacy — we can communicate with everyone globally; we can express ourselves daily in blogs and videos; our private lives can now be lived publicly through television reality shows, through 24-hour views into our spaces in front of our computers. We have become voyeurs, stationary creatures typing our emotions onto keyboards, looking into the cool eyes of digital cameras.
While all this appears to have us more connected to everyone, in reality we are more faceless and more alone than ever, our eyes reflecting blue screens, our selves flickering in darkened rooms. Technology has expanded our interaction with the world, yet it has also alienated us from human interaction at home. From this exploration into simulated intimacy, grew the protagonists of Alternate Visions, Alex and Valerie, two busy young professionals who meet online. Their interaction through technology intensifies until one of them suggests that they should meet face to face. Of course, this is much more difficult than it seems, because the two lovers have never embraced real intimacy.
— Genni Gunn
“Étrange Alternate Visions […] mais plus dense que bien d’autres spectacles multi-médias.”
Odile Québec, Le Devoir (Canada), May 5, 2007
“Vaillancourt is known for tackling works that are contemporary, not just in their musical language. She delights in commentary on current pop culture. The Usine C space for instance, is configured as a techno dance club, complete with bar, suspended TV monitors and some nifty robotic devices. She has also assembled an ideal team to make this vehicle sing […] the company assembled a solid roster of singers. What does follow, though, are some very beautifully sung duets and a really powerful ensemble leading to the show’s climax.”
Alan Conter, The Globe and Mail (Canada), May 3, 2007
“… bluesy arias are delivered with warmth […] a mock-romantic duet for the supporting characters had an agreeable air of Broadway.”
Arthur Kaptainis, The Gazette (Canada), May 3, 2007
“… certainement l’un des événements d’importance de la saison hommage à ce grand compositeur d’ici.”
E C, La Scena Musicale (Canada), July 2, 2010
“Pas une seule seconde je n’ai regardé sans écouter ou souhaité me détacher de cet univers féerique. À aucun moment je n’ai cru assister à la première imparfaite d’une œuvre en devenir.”
Lucie Renaud, Jeu #134 (Canada), April 8, 2010
“L’eau qui danse, la pomme qui chante et l’oiseau qui dit la vérité, sur un livret de Pierre Morency, a été habillé avec un soin religieux: Le perfectionnisme instrumental (la marque de Lorraine Vaillancourt), le plateau vocal engagé et, surtout, l’inventivité visuelle (projections, éclairages, costumes) témoignent de l’immense respect porté au compositeur.”
Christophe Huss, Opéra Magazine #48 (France), February 1, 2010
“The whole constitutes an impressive sonic acuity. We seem to hear the wind blow, the buzz of insects, the movement of the earth, and even flagrant flowers are given the rare ability to be heard.”
Jacques Hétu, ResMusica (France), November 22, 2009
“The opera, as such, is magnificent: all kinds of stage effects, projections that suggest various places, ingenious lighting that is sometimes directed towards the audience, shadow play, extravagant and luxurious costumes.”
Claude Gingras, La Presse (Canada), November 21, 2009
“From the moment the curtain fell on the stage at the Monument-National, a large number of audience members had the distinct impression of having witnessed a defining moment in the history of contemporary music in Quebec. (…) The audience applauds thunderously, the opera is magnificent.”
Pat White, patwhite.com (Canada), November 20, 2009
Lucie Renaud, lucierenaud.blogspot (Canada), November 20, 2009
Yby, the narrator, half-bird, half-bee, speaks to us through the Talking Drum, and invites us into an enchanted world in which we discover a story where truth triumphs over deceit, where love must conquer three great trials with the discovery of L’eau qui danse (the water that dances), La pomme qui chante (the apple that sings) and l’oiseau qui dit la vérité (the bird that tells no lies) who, by telling the truth, allows two beings to see themselves differently in relation to one another.
In the City of Wonders, surrounded by creatures stemming from nature, bees, flies, wasps, cicadas, grasshoppers, gnats and other tiny creatures, Queen Blondine gives birth to two boys and one girl, each with a gold star on their foreheads and a small golden chain around their necks, while Princess Brunette, gives birth to a boy beaming with beauty. The Queen Mother Poulane is incensed by the arrival of these magnificent children and sends them to their fates on the seas with the help of her Lady in Waiting, Feintise. Discovered by Corsaire and Corsine, who name them Belle-Étoile, Beaujour, Petit-Soleil and Chérot, they grow up loved and protected from their grandmother’s anger.
After learning at age 16 that they could possibly be the children of important Lords, they decide to leave in search of their past. After three months at sea, accompanied by Tourterelle and Sirène, they arrive at the most beautiful city in the world where they are received by the King. Poulane, furious, discovers Feintise’s betrayal, but Feintise swears that she will find a way to get rid of the children, by placing three trials before them.
Risking his life by travelling to the edge of the world, and thanks to Tourterelle’s precious help, Chérot sets out for l’eau qui danse and la pomme qui chante, who each have an immediate and extraordinary effect on the beauty and spirit of Belle-Étoile. The ultimate test, the discovery of l’oiseau qui dit la vérité, reveals to Chérot and Belle-Étoile that they are not brother and sister, allowing the love that has grown between them to burst forth, the lies to be revealed, and the wondrous occasion to be celebrated.
«Le vrai voyageur, c’est celui qui jamais ne tente de revenir en arrière.»Cette citation de Jacques Renaud me semble définir l’essence même du road opera Alexandra, que l’on songe à la vie de l’exploratrice Alexandra David-Néel, au traitement musical de Zack Settel, au travail des interprètes et à la mise en scène de Pauline Vaillancourt, mais surtout à cette impression que, à la sortie de la représentation, nous ne sommes pas entièrement les mêmes, sans être entièrement autres.
En une heure qui semble passer à la vitesse de l’éclair, on devient témoin mais aussi partie prenante — sherpa peut-être? — de cette histoire de dépassement, de volonté de découverte, de coup de foudre pour un pays, un peuple. Grâce à un traitement musical de Settel volontairement modal, très accessible, jouant essentiellement sur les couleurs et les atmosphères, la trame narrative se déploie dans un ailleurs, mais surtout vers l’intérieur, entre fragilité (troublantes mélopées a capella de Jessica Wise) et volonté (ancrage des cors tibétains, chœur d’hommes). Les percussions, prolongement du battement cardiaque, deviennent deuxième narrateur autant que les projections raffinées de Jean Décarie. (Ce «lever de soleil» en montagne, révélé à touches impressionnistes, restera dans ma mémoire.) Le contrepoint entre pulsation rythmique et arabesques lyriques permet d’esquisser un parallèle entre l’effervescence du monde extérieur et l’ancrage plus intemporel du monde intérieur.
Un voyage que j’aurais voulu voir se poursuivre, à travers d’autres fragments du journal de David-Néel […].
Lucie Renaud, lucierenaud.blogspot (Canada), May 17, 2012
Travel is a process of discovery and transformation. It is undoubtedly for this reason that Alexandra David-Néel (1868-1969) travelled so extensively. After being an opera singer in Tunis, and a feminist before her time, she embraced Buddhism and left her home to embrace what was forbidden and to scoff at the difficulties she might encounter.
The story takes place in the 1920’s. Alexandra, then in her fifties, had already criss-crossed Asia as a lover of the Orient and as a writer. Yet one achievement remained out of her grasp: to enter the city of Lhassa, the mythical capital of Tibet, forbidden to all westerners. For this French adventurer whose calling card was her courage and her stubbornness, for this woman with an insatiable thirst for freedom whose motto was “Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes can see”, for this erudite scholar in search of forbidden knowledge, such a prohibition was unbearable.
She tried many times to enter Tibet but suffered setback after setback. This only rekindled her desire and strengthened her determination to continue: “We cannot enter, really? Well, a woman will get through!”
So begins an incredible and clandestine journey. For more than eight months, starting in China, Alexandra marches towards Lhassa disguised as a Tibetan beggar. Accompanied by the young Tibetan Aphur Yongden, who would later become her adopted son, Alexandra risks everything in the mountains.
If her gamble pays off, she will be the first western woman to enter the forbidden capital city…
The opera takes place the night before Gregor’s execution. He doesn’t know why he was arrested. Lying in his cell, exhausted, he falls asleep and in his dreams relives his entire life, distorted as though reflected back to him from a warped mirror: his childhood, his education, his work, the limitations placed on his critical thinking. To add to his confusion, Gregor is accompanied in his dreams by guides stemming from the humanist tradition: Petrarch, Dante, Erasmus, Rabelais, Camus… all worried about the destiny which awaits them and their only living heir. His death would signify their death.
Following Felliniesque logic, all these scenes quickly transform into nightmares and Gregor awakes many times in his cell. A little girl, the incarnation of Mathilda in Dante’s Divine Comedy, keeps him company in the hallway of his death through a little door used to give him food. She will give Gregor the confidence he needs to confront his fate. In the final scene, the soldiers come to get Gregor at dawn for his execution by firing squad. The general asks for his final words. Gregor quotes La Rochefoucauld: «He who lives without folly isn’t as wise as he thinks.» The general screams: «Fire!»
Le rêve de Grégoire (Gregor’s Dream) has ended, and now the metamorphosis can begin…
“What a dazzling show! For once I said to myself that I needed to see and hear the opera again, to take in all the little marvels that are part of it. Not a minute of boredom! The performers, the stage direction, the extraordinary costumes and the MUSIC… it is so reassuring to realize it still exists. The legato and the colour of the voice of the lead performer (Gregoire) were exemplary. Walter Boudreau, in the pit, did marvellous work, you would swear that it was a much bigger orchestra because the amalgamation of sounds was so well put together. And the stage direction… intelligent people are so refreshing…”
Georges Nicholson, May 16, 2014
“François-Olivier Jean’s triple performance as the Narrator, Grégoire in prison and Grégoire in the world of dreams, demonstrates his strong stage presence as he modulates his voice to convey different emotions, from confusion to outrage. Dion Mazerolle portrays the character of Folly with undeniable mastery and Marie-Annick Béliveau (who plays multiple characters) once again shows us her profound knowledge of contemporary music idioms. I would also like to point out the projection and the velvety timbre of the tenor Andrzej Stec, and the elegance of the coloratura Rebecca Woodmass as Matilda.”
Lucie Renaud, Jeu (Canada), May 16, 2014
“This project is supported by a closely-knit and balanced team (…) the performances by François-Olivier Jean in the title role, and by Dion Mazerolle as Folly, were highly impressive. Chants Libres has chosen an ambitious and substantial piece and produced it with care. Le rêve de Grégoire is an exacting and intelligent project (…) The rebellious pounding is supported — ironically enough — by an orchestra that is conducted with infinite subtlety, discipline, originality and inventiveness.”
Christophe Huss, Le Devoir (Canada), May 16, 2014
“The themes are solidly supported by music that is very well written, sprinkled with moments that are full of feeling, dreamlike, darkly humourous, playful and harrowing, alouette! Like in any opera, there were also elements like costumes, sets, choreography, lighting, make-up and other showy set pieces, all frankly well done. It is this theatricality that kept me captivated throughout the whole show. In my opinion Le rêve de Grégoire, without having the pretension to try and teach us something, shows that the composer has talent, ideas to share, solid musical writing, and that he is capable of admirable work.”
Pierre-Luc Sénécal, May 16, 2014
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: “vengeance is the name of your grief.” He has brought with him a belt of explosives. One of the twins is to wear it and go to destroy the enemy encampments on the other side of the mountain. Zahed must choose between Amed and Aziz, which one will become a child suicide bomber. Choosing Aziz is out of the question to him. Aziz suffers from a fatal illness. A sacrifice cannot be made of what is already sacrificed. That would insult God. Amed is the one who will go. Tamara disagrees with her husband’s choice. Unbeknownst to him, she asks Amed to take his brother’s place. This way, she will save one of her sons from death. The two brothers switch places. But after the death of his martyr brother, Amed is struck by remorse and reveals the truth to his father who throws him out of the house immediately. Amed must go into exile in America where Dalimah, Tamara’s sister takes him in.
About 10 years later, Amed is taking training as an actor. Mikaël, his professor, has written a play for his students. He suggests to Amed to play the role of Sony, a child who faces a mercenary who killed his parents. He asks Sony to give him a reason not to spare him. Amed refuses to play this role, which hits too close to home with his painful past. Mikaël insists. To justify his refusal, Amed reveals to him the true mission of his brother Aziz. From his Aunt Dalimah, he learns that his brother exploded himself in the middle of a hundred children. Amed leaves the drama class and will not act in the play. On opening night, Amed surprises everyone by appearing on stage toward the end of the performance. 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.
The opera is based on the life story of the Argentine architect and human rights activist Patricia Isasa. In 1976 Patricia Isasa — then a high school student, and just 16 years old — was abducted, imprisoned and tortured by the military junta that ruled Argentina from 1976 to 1983. Isasa was one of as many as 30,000 citizens who were “disappeared” in Argentina, often for activities such as belonging to a union, working with the poor or voicing opposition to economic and political policies. Very few survived.
Patricia Isasa was held for 2 years but never charged with any crime. After her release, Isasa felt compelled to find out who had been responsible for her abduction, torture and detention in a secret prison. 33 years after her abduction she managed to identify and bring her torturers to justice. In December 2009 six of Isasa’s torturers were sentenced to 19-23 years behind bars. Those convicted included a federal judge, a chief of police and the mayor of her hometown.
Based on personal conversations held with Patricia Isasa in 2010, the opera raises question about the amnesty given to highly placed people in government, the use of torture for political reasons, and the need to act with urgency.
«Ceux qui y étaient se souviendront de cette histoire aussi captivante que véridique, de ses musiques et chants envoûtants, de ses interprètes émouvants et de la magnifique scénographie de l’artiste montréalaise Dominique Blain.»
Nathalie Petrowski, La Presse (Canada), 17 décembre 2016
«Director Vaillancourt cleverly and very creatively makes impressive choices of silhouetting names of victims of the government’s excesses. This hits you like a rock and personally reminded me of my other experiences in spaces that recount history of genocide, incarceration and other acts of inhumanness…»
Sinj Karan, Montreal Rampage (Canada), 23 mai 2016
«I wholeheartedly applaud Chants Libre for taking on this project (…) Holding a light, such as this compelling new work, to such darknesses of the worst of human behaviour will hopefully cause us all to keep human-rights abuses top of mind.»
Neil Weisensel, The Opera Composer (Canada), 22 mai 2016
«J’ai été ravie par l’opéra The Trials of Patricia Isasa de la compagnie Chants Libres. Une distribution admirable. Des chanteurs convaincants. Des voix magnifiques. Brillante mise en scène de Pauline Vaillancourt. Un environnement visuel exceptionnel, Dominique Blain a fait un travail remarquable. Inoubliable! Un chef d’œuvre! À ne pas manquer.»
Francine Grimaldi, Radio-Canada — Première chaîne (Canada), 21 mai 2016
«Chants libres frappe fort (…) on a indéniablement droit à un sans faute avec The Trials of Patricia Isasa, un récit fascinant (…) une distribution de haut niveau, quelques airs mémorables et une mise en scène qui fait corps avec le propos. On a envie de revoir cet opéra et de l’apprivoiser en détails.»
Lucie Renaud, lucierenaud.blogspot (Canada), 20 mai 2016
«Timely, not timeless, The Trials of Patricia Isasa is a smart production, both in the manner it raises issues of personal and state responsibility for crimes against humanity and for the fitting way it recognizes the courage of a remarkable woman.»
Kiersten van Vliet, La Scena Musicale (Canada), 20 mai 2016
texte à changer
Coming soon after performance.
Amed et Aziz sont des jumeaux de neuf ans. Ils vivent avec leurs parents dans L’orangeraie que leur grand-père paternel a fait surgir du désert. Une nuit, un obus venant de l’autre côté de la montagne, tombe sur la maison des grands-parents et les tue.
Soulayed, le chef armé d’un village voisin, vient demander à Zahed de venger la mort de ses parents: «la vengeance est le nom de ton deuil». Il a apporté avec lui une ceinture d’explosifs. L’un des jumeaux devra la porter et aller détruire, de l’autre côté de la montagne, les campements de l’ennemi. Zahed devra choisir entre Amed et Aziz celui qui deviendra un enfant kamikaze. Il n’est pas question pour lui de choisir Aziz. Celui-ci souffre d’une maladie mortelle. Il ne peut sacrifier ce qui est déjà sacrifié. Ce serait insulter Dieu. C’est Amed qui partira. Tamara n’est pas d’accord avec le choix de son mari. À son insu, elle demande à Amed de prendre la place de son frère. Ainsi, elle sauvera l’un de ses fils de la mort. L’échange entre les deux frères a lieu. Mais Amed, après la mort de son frère en martyr, est pris de remords et révèle la vérité à son père qui aussitôt l’expulse de la maison. Amed devra s’exiler en Amérique où il sera accueilli par Dalimah, la soeur de Tamara.
Une dizaine d’années plus tard, Amed suit une formation d’acteur. Mikaël, son professeur, a écrit une pièce de théâtre pour ses étudiants. Il propose à Amed de jouer le rôle de Sony, un enfant qui fait face à un mercenaire. Il a tué ses parents et demande à Sony de lui donner une raison de ne pas l’épargner. Amed refuse de jouer ce rôle, lui rappelant trop son passé douloureux. Mikaël insiste. Pour justifier son refus, Amed lui révèle la véritable mission de son frère Aziz. Grâce à sa tante Dalimah, il a appris que son frère s’est fait exploser au milieu d’une centaine d’enfants. Amed quitte la classe de jeu et ne jouera pas dans la pièce. Le soir de la première, Amed surprend tout le monde en apparaissant sur la scène vers la fin du spectacle. Il s’adresse au mercenaire. Pour un moment, il est Sony, Aziz, Amed. Il a vaincu les fantômes de son passé tragique. Il parle enfin de paix.
The narrative structure of La porte is based on Kafka’s story Before the Law:
“For over 10 years, I was interested in narrative genres of music. Back in 1975, I set a short prose piece by Henri Michaux to music, but for a long time, I was unable to find material that allowed me to create a longer work. It was not until 1985, after a storytelling performance by Alexis Nouss, that I finally found my librettist and our collaboration materialized through a commission from Pauline Vaillancourt with the assistance of Canada Council for the Arts. The La Porte project could be described as a situation in which the traditional storyteller is set to music, not accompanied by music. But since the storyteller also plays the various characters, the result is genre that straddles narrative singing and opera.”
— José Evangelista — Composer (1987)
“On my “work table,” there is this beautiful tale by Alexis Nouss — based on Kafka — as well as this recording that Pauline Vaillancourt did for me, yesterday, to give me some inspiration … The music of José Evangelista tells me a thousand things as it lingers my ears! Hundreds of memories awaken! It imposes its rhythm, its breath, its relevance. So, like the sage in La porte who “goes from village to village dispensing his knowledge,” I imagine this situation: a woman is telling a story. She says a “guard is standing in front of the door” and a “man from the country” is trying to enter. Later (much later?), I say to myself that the stories are not just stories; that there will always be a guard in front of prohibited doors.”
— Joseph Saint-Gelais — Stage Director (1987)
“From my early years as a soloist, I had the opportunity to create many of José Evangelista’s vocal works. From En guise de fête and Arabesco to M. Plume and the monodrama La Porte, with which I had the privilege of travelling quite a bit in Europe, to his grand opera Le Manuscrit trouvé à Saragosse, which José Evangelista agreed to write in 2001 for Chants Libres, the lyrical creation company that I have headed for 27 years.
What a pleasure! What a treat to sing this music that envelopes and radiates the text, surrounded by lights and at the same time mystery, enhanced by curves and colours, thus arming the singer with a powerful weapon to touch the audience’s heart.”
— Pauline Vaillancourt — Artistic Director of Chants Libres and Stage Director (2018)
“The peasant’s failures to get through the door, the unspecific location of the failure and the unclear purpose of his pursuit, all of this opens up a space where any number of tedious, recurring, nearly universal modern human quests can be projected onto the stage’s nearly bare space. […] This is part of the confounding condition of social modernity, where we rely on our dealings with apparently human individuals acting as inhuman, mechanical representatives of the Protocols of Authority, individuals who turn out to be oh-so-human. And the confusions of this reality are just leaping off the stage in La Porte, with the help of the excellent performances and stage direction. […] This, for me, was incontrovertible personal proof that the opera had found a way to be useful, to sink in.”
Conor Coady, Montreal Rampage (Canada), June 19, 2018
“[…] la voix chemine en parallèle avec la percussion, qui elle-même vient relayer la narration et l’articule, la fait respirer par des ponctuations sonores. Ce travail est particulièrement limpide dans le conte final du Roi de Perse […]. C’est sur ce conte que l’excellente et très investie Ghislaine Deschambault éteint une à une les 25 bougies.”
Christophe Huss, Le Devoir (Canada), June 4, 2018
“La grande cohésion des interprètes honorait la musique d’Evangelista en faisant naître sur scène un univers éthéré […] la mise en scène dépouillée conçue par Joseph Saint-Gelais et Pauline Vaillancourt mettait en valeur le jeu de la chanteuse. […] la mezzo-soprano Ghislaine Deschambault est parvenue à captiver le public avec brio et à incarner tous les personnages, qui étaient presque aussi nombreux que les bougies qui habillaient la scène d’une lumière vacillante.”
Judy-Ann Desrosiers, L’Opéra (Canada), June 4, 2018