Quebec operastad i Quebec
Opéra de Quebec
The year 1983 marked a decisive step in the history of opera in Quebec City. After all of the effort and work of the Théâtre lyrique de Nouvelle-France pioneers, of the Opéra du Québec, and those of the Société lyrique d’Aubigny to support the opera cause in Quebec City, the Fondation de l’Opéra de Québec was born (January 7, 1983), which led to the creation of the Corporation de l’Opéra de Québec (November 16, 1983), whose mission is to produce professional opera performances in Quebec City.
The Opéra de Québec’s goal is to present two works from the classical repertoire per season and feature local talent. The first production by the new company (May 1985) was a great success due in large part to the magnificent performance of soprano Evelyne Brunner in the title role.
Wishes for the success of the new initiative came from such prominent opera personalities as: Luciano Pavarotti, Jessye Norman, Placido Domingo, Jon Vickers, Wilhelmenia Fernandez, Pierrette Alarie and Léopold Simoneau. Also, on opening night, the Opéra de Québec presented its production with an avant-garde technology that offered surtitles in French, a first not only in Quebec, but also in the French-speaking world.
Since its debut under the direction of tenor and conductor Guy Bélanger, the Opéra de Québec has conscientiously worked to encourage and feature Quebec talent and has given many singers from the area their real first professional opportunity to shine such as Sonia Racine, Lyne Fortin, Hélène Fortin, Agathe Martel, Odette Beaupré, Monique Pagé, Louis Langelier, Jean-François Lapointe, Claude Robin-Pelletier and many others. These young voices also benefited from the experience of seasoned artists, both from Quebec and abroad, including Colette Boky, Joseph Rouleau, Robert Savoie, Claude Corbeil, Gaétan Laperrière, Bernard Turgeon, Yves Cantin, Pierre Charbonneau, Theodore Baerg, Brett Polegato, Jean Stilwell, Peter Strummer, Maria d’Aragnès, John Cheek, Stephen Powell, Leslie Richard, Jianyi Zhang, Audrey Stottler, John Fanning, Richard Fredricks, Kevin Glavin, Joanne Kolomyjec, Brenda Harris, Russell Braun to name but a few.
As for behind the scenes, important names have also worked on Opéra de Québec productions: Pierrette Alarie, Irving Guttman, Antonello Madau Diaz, Albert Millaire, Peter Symcox, Bernard Uzan, Brian MacDonald, Brian Deedrick, Serge Denoncourt, Jacques Leblanc, John Pascoe, Louise Marleau.
The arrival of Bernard Labadie and Grégoire Legendre for the 1994-1995 season marked a turning point towards enlarging the repertoire and renewing the approach to how the operas were be staged while respecting tradition. Bernard Labadie assumed the artistic and musical direction until the end of the 2002-2003 season when Grégoire Legendre took over as Artistic Director in addition to being Managing Director.
With the advent of computer technologies, the Opéra de Québec, recognising the importance of stimulating the younger generation’s interest in opera, decided to make its contribution to the educational development of the younger set by stimulating their interest with unique activities. The first was to open dress rehearsals to secondary school students (I to V). Since Spring 1999, more than 10,000 young people from across the region have been introduced to the opera. The second activity was the “Dessine-moi un opera” contest (from 2000 to 2004) which proved to be an original way for local primary school students to not only become interested in opera, but also be part of the production team by having sets and costumes created based on their drawings. So for four seasons, the Opera staged the following productions with the students’ participation: The Magic Flute by Mozart (June 2000), Hansel and Gretel by Humperdinck (October 2001), The Abduction from the Seraglio by Mozart, (March 2003) and Elisir d’amore by Donizetti (March 2004).
Grégoire Legendre, Managing Director since 1994, took on the artistic direction in July 2003 and is responsible for the Opéra de Québec’s programming. It was under his direction that the world premier of Starmania opéra by Luc Plamondon and Michel Berger took place in Spring 2008. Thereafter, Robert Lepage launched his double program the Château de Barbe-Bleue by Bartók and Erwartung by Schönberg for the first time in Québec City. And in November 2009, the Opéra de Québec was honoured at Quebec City’s Gala des Prix d’excellence des arts et de la culture and received the Prix Ville de Québec for hosting Plácido Domingo’s World Opera Competition in 2008. The award recognises the efforts and excellence of professional cultural organisations.
In 2011, he launched the first Festival d’opéra de Québec featuring a two-week program. Quebec City audiences were thus able to attend the Canadian premier of Peter Brook’s adaptation of The Magic Flute, the Quebec premier of Stravinski’s The Nightingale and other Short Fables staged by Robert Lepage, and other very popular events that were offered in addition to these two major productions. The Festival received the Prix Opus 2011 for “Quebec City’s concert of the year.”