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Opéra de Montréal commissions new opera based on Lilies for 2016 premiere

By John Terauds on December 16, 2013

Brent carver in the movie version of Lilies, released in 2001.
Brent Carver in the movie version of Lilies, released in 1996.

Quebec playwright Michel Marc Bouchard will adapt his hit 1987 play Les Feluettes (Lilies) for opera, thanks to a new Opéra de Montréal commission announced today. The premiere has been scheduled for May, 2016.

The 1987 play about religious repression in early-1950s Quebec was made into a film by Torontonian John Greyson, starring Brent Carver, in 1996.

The composer for Bouchard’s operatic treatment is Melbourne, Australia-based, University of Michigan-educated American Kevin March, who has been making a name for himself in chamber opera Down Under.

One of Bouchard’s more recent plays, Christine, la reine-garçon, has been scheduled for an English-language performance as The Girl-King next summer at Stratford.

Like the Canadian Opera Company, the much smaller and financially fragile Opéra de Montreal does not have an ongoing opera-development programme. Thérèse Raquin was co-commissioned with Dallas and San Diego Operas and premiered in November, 2001. Its librettist (Gene Scheer) and composer (Tobias Picker) are both American. The previous commission was Nelligan, a sort of pop-opera composed by Quebecer André Gagnon in 1990 and revived with substantial changes by Opéra de Montréal in 2005.

“Building on the strengths of Michel Marc Bouchard’s libretto and Kevin March’s music, our company, through this world premiere, will play a part in the rebirth our art form is enjoying at the dawn of the 21st century,” said Opéra de Montréal artistic director Michel Beaulac in a press statement.

Opéra de Montréal will eventually provide more details on its website, here.

John Terauds

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