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La Scena Musicale - Vol. 20, No. 1

Vocal Music

by Justin Bernard / September 5, 2014

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The fall season will be full of events for enthusiastic music lovers of opera and vocal music. Two major opera houses in Montreal and Québec City will present three productions and two galas. Orchestras and ensembles across the province have programmed vocal performances as well. Opéra de Montréal’s 35th season opens with Nabucco, the first opera that truly kick-started Giuseppe Verdi’s career. Opening night is Saturday, September 20, and three other performances are scheduled on Tuesday, September 23, Thursday, September 25, and Saturday, September 27. In November, baritone Étienne Dupuis, a Berlin Deutsche Oper regular, returns to Place des Arts’ Salle Wilfrid Pelletier for Opéra de Montréal’s second production. He will play the role of Figaro in Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia, performing with Mireille Lebel (Rosina), Carlo Lepore (Bartolo), Bogdan Mihai (Count Almaviva), and Paolo Pecchioli (Basilio). Antonino Fogliani is the music director, and Oriol Thomas is in charge of staging. Il Barbiere di Siviglia runs on November 8, 11, 13, and 15.

In October, Opéra de Québec presents a French version of Franz Lehár’s Merry Widow, the company’s first season production. Managing and artistic director Grégoire Legendre contacted Canadian soprano Leslie Ann Bradley and Brazilian baritone Armando Noguera to play the main roles in this operetta. Stage director François Racine has put bass-baritone Robert Huard (Baron Mirko Zeta), soprano Judith Bouchard (Nadia, the Baron’s wife), and tenor Keven Geddes (Camille de Coutançon) to the fore—three Québec City-based singers. Actor Jack Robitaille also takes part in the production. Stéphane Laforest conducts the Orchestre symphonique de Québec (OSQ). Shows take place October 18, 21, 23, and 25, 2014, at the city’s Grand Théâtre.

Two other vocal companies will open their doors to operetta lovers this fall. Opéra immédiat begins its sixth season with Johann Strauss II’s Die Fledermaus on Saturday, October 4, at the Université du Québec à Montréal’s Marie Gérin Lajoie Hall. Stage director: Frédéric-Antoine Guimond. The production stars several vocal performers: Sophie de Cruz, Marc-Antoine d’Aragon, Yanick Alexandre, Éric Thériault, Julien Horbatuck, Julija Karakorska and Gustave Richard.

Laval’s Opéra bouffe du Québec presents Jacques Offenbach’s Orphée aux enfers at Maison des Arts Friday, November 7 and 14 and Saturday, November 8 and 15 at 8:00 p.m., and Sunday, November 9 and 16 at 3:00 p.m. The singers are Véronique Gauthier, Martin Pilon, Charles Prévost-Linton, Frédérike Bédard, Éric Thériault, Chantal Scott, and Étienne Cousineau. Simon Fournier is the artistic and musical director, and Richard Fréchette is the stage director.

The Montreal Symphony Orchestra (MSO) offers music lovers in the Greater Montreal area Hector Berlioz’s dramatic Roméo et Juliette for its season opening. Three shows take place at Maison Symphonique on September 10 and 11. Tenor Isaiah Bell and mezzo-soprano Clémentine Margaine play the lovers; Philippe Sly plays the role of Père Laurent. Under the baton of Masaaki Suzuki, the MSO concludes Montreal’s Bach Festival with “The Stirring Sounds of Bach and Mendelssohn” concert.  Bach’s Magnificat will be programmed with soloists Hélène Guilmette, Colin Blaze, Robin Balzer, and Christian Immler.

On September 13 and 14, Kent Nagano’s OSM performs during the Arte Musica Foundation’s opening concert. This concert marks the beginning of the “Bach Cantatas” series that will take place throughout the season at Bourgie Hall. This fall, two additional concerts are scheduled, for October 26 and November 30. We can hear sopranos Jana Miller and Aline Kutan, mezzo-soprano Maude Brunet, tenor Jacques-Olivier Chartier, and baritone Nathaniel Watson.

The Orchestre symphonique de Québec, under the baton of Fabien Gabel, welcomes Kimy McLaren on November 21 to perform Francis Poulenc’s Stabat Mater and Gloria at the Cathedral-Basilica of Notre-Dame de Québec. On November 26, Gabel and the OSQ perform at the Grand Théâtre de Québec with contralto Marie-Nicole Lemieux. She will present two Duparc art songs, an aria by Halévy, and the famous Habanera from Bizet’s Carmen—a collection of early twentieth-century French art songs and nineteenth-century French opera arias. The OSQ choir will perform in Carmen, various choruses from Gounod’s Faust, and sacred classical music, with Fauré’s Cantique de Jean Racine.

Québec sopranos Florie Valiquette and Marie-Ève Munger perform during the Société d’art vocal de Montréal’s 16th season on Sunday, October 19 and November 30. To kick-start its 31st season, Montreal’s I Musici Orchestra certainly has a vocal-packed fall. Conductor Jean-Marie Zeitouni has invited soprano Andréanne Paquin to perform a series of Baroque concerts at the Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur on September 25, 26, and 27. On October 16, Sasha Cooke joins I Musici for its Orient & Occident concert at Bourgie Hall. In addition, I Musici performs Robert Levin’s version of Mozart’s Requiem at Maison Symphonique on November 14.

As part of its ninth season, the MET Live in HD Series will present Verdi’s Macbeth (October 11, rebroadcasts November 10 and 15), Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro (October 18, rebroadcasts December 6 and 15), Bizet’s Carmen (November 1, rebroadcasts November 29, 30, and December 8), Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia (November 22, rebroadcasts January 10 and 12, 2015), and Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (December 13, rebroadcasts February 7 and 23, 2015) in cinemas across Québec. The Opéra National de Paris will also broadcast opera productions around the province. This fall, it broadcasts Verdi’s La Traviata on September 18 (rebroadcast September 28).

Voice and opera also have a place on the air. Radio-Canada, CBC’s French-language sister station, webcasts Place à l’opéra, hosted by Sylvia L’Écuyer on Saturdays at 1:00 p.m. (rebroadcast on radio Sundays at 8:00 p.m.). Additionally, Radio-Canada will present New York Metropolitan Opera’s productions during the 2014-2015 season. You may visit www.icimusique.ca for details. L’Opéra, tribune québécoise d’art lyrique returns September 14, and will be broadcast Sundays from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Radio Ville-Marie. The program, co-hosted by Justin Bernard and Daniel Turp, will focus on Québec’s vocal music scene.

Have a wonderful vocal season!

Translation: Dwain Richardson

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