Opéra de Québec Captain of the Shipby Isabelle Picard
/ October 4, 2004
LSM: You've been General Manager of the
Opéra de Québec since 1996. Prior to that, from 1994, you were Administrative
Director. Since July 2003 you've also been the company's Artistic Director.
Would you say that being Artistic Director is a high point in your
Grégoire Legendre: Yes, indeed, as I
have an artistic past. I sang for some twenty years--and several times for the
Opéra de Québec before becoming administrative director, from 1986 to 1992.
Actually I've done almost everything you can in an opera company over the past
thirty years. At the same time I've studied opera administration and worked for
a time in the private sector. This varied experience gave me the background to
deal with all aspects of a cultural organization. It's always interested me, I
must say. I've always kept my eyes and ears open to the subject. We teamed up
with Bernard Labadie for nine years (beginning in 1994), a collaboration that
worked exceptionally well. Finally, the logical culmination of my work was to
take over the artistic direction, because the artistic side is what I care most
about in this métier. I've been immersed in it all my
LSM: Would you say that your experience
as a singer helps in your work as Artistic Director?
GL: Definitely! When I come to an
audition, it's as though I'm on both sides of the table, having presented myself
at auditions as a singer for a number of years, I'm able to see a bit further.
From the standpoint of choosing performers, that gives me an obvious advantage.
As for choosing repertoire, I've clearly had the opportunity of becoming
familiar with much of it as a singer.
LSM: How do you see the role of
artistic director and that of a general manager in an opera
GL: The artistic director is
responsible for everything that happens in the opera from the artistic
viewpoint. This ranges from the choice of programs to the choice of performers,
the way rehearsals are planned, and so on. The general manager is responsible
for relations with all the partners and other entities, as well as for the
financial resources, personnel, budgets, fundraising, grant applications, and so
forth. The challenge for a general manager, as in all cultural organizations, is
to convince the public and politicians that there is a proven link between a
strong cultural life and the economic prosperity of a country or a city. Culture
reflects enthusiasm, excellence, and quality. It is also, in my humble opinion,
one of the highest manifestations of human nature. And I must say that we're
living through a time that demands enormous effort on this level for all
LSM: What are Opéra de Québec's main
GL: First, to bring back the
educational program for the elementary school level, which we had to stop
because we lacked the funds. I think it's a top requirement, and we're going to
have a new program in 2005-2006. The other challenge is to improve our financial
situation. It's difficult at present because of increased costs in all areas and
decreased funding at certain levels. Another objective is to seek more funding
from the private sector. At the moment we're restructuring our fundraising and
sponsorships campaigns. We have also been rethinking our annual benefit event
and will have a benefit concert in mid-season.
LSM: Can you tell us a bit about your
choices for the 2004-2005 season?
GL: I try to present popular works as
well as works that have never been given in Quebec City, but which are also part
of the great opera repertoire. In October this year we'll present Verdi's
Masked Ball for the first time in this city. I'm also trying to bring
French opera to the fore. In May we'll do Offenbach's Tales of Hoffmann,
which hasn't been given in Quebec City for sixteen years. It's a work that
offers lots of scope for fantasy. I try to alternate between dramatic works and
ones that give more play to fantasy.
In Ballo in Maschero at
L'Opéra de Québec
16,19, 21 and 23 in the Salle Louis-Fréchette of the Grand Théâtre de Québec,
418-529-0688 or 1-877-643-8131 / www.operadequebec.qc.ca