Bouchard/March: Les Feluettes, April, 2017

LES FELUETTES (LILIES)

A new Canadian Opera, co-commissioned & co-produced by
Pacific Opera Victoria & Productions ODM Inc. (Opéra de Montréal)
World Première in Montreal: May, 2016

Performances in Victoria
April 20, 22, 28, 2017, at 8 pm.   April 30 at 2:30 pm

Music: Kevin March.   Libretto: Michel Marc Bouchard

Based on a celebrated Canadian play by Michel Marc Bouchard, Les Feluettes (Lilies) is a romantic drama of startling beauty.

In French with English surtitles
Approximate running time: 130 minutes, plus one intermission
Pre-performance talk 1 hour before curtain


 

Photos from the World Première
Media/Reviews from the World Première
Musical Selections

Cast and Creative Team
Overview
Resources and Links


 

Montreal World Première, May 21, 2016

Photo montage: Selected production photos from the World Première production in Montreal. Photos: Yves Renaud


 

RAVE REVIEWS

  • New opera Les Feluettes works on many levels: Arthur Kaptainis, Special to Montreal Gazette.

    Les Feluettes ... is a rare case of a full-size and full-length contemporary opera that holds the stage while remaining artistically true to itself.... The all-Canadian cast ... could hardly have been better chosen ... There was not a moment in the unfolding of the central romantic story that seemed less than universal ...
    The Orchestre Métropolitain was upstage rather than in the pit, often with starry skies above ... Balance and pacing as overseen by Timothy Vernon (artistic director of Pacific Opera Victoria) ... were excellent.
    Read more.

  • La Scena Musicale, Kiersten van Vliet.

    Deception, obsession, betrayal, and murder – Bouchard's story has all of the trappings of a great opera.
    March's eclectic and cinematic score was as if ... Debussy and Britten met in Hollywood ... Les Feluettes hit on all of the right notes.
    Read more.

  • Les Feluettes in Montréal: New World opera triumphs: Patricia Maunder, Bachtrack.com.

    New operas with sufficient force and good fortune to become fully staged productions by a company of note are rare beasts ... which makes Les Feluettes something precious indeed ... Les Feluettes may be rooted in Québec, but this powerful and darkly beautiful opera seems likely to flourish much further afield.
    Read more

  • Opera's movers and shakers keep it from museums: William Littler, Toronto Star

    The world première of Les Feluettes was the final event in the annual conference of Opera America, the service organization for North America's opera companies. William Littler reviews Les Feluettes and discusses how today's operatic movers and shakers are keeping opera relevant and meaningful.

    The title is Quebec slang for weak or effeminate men and, to the provincial society of early 20th-century Quebec, the young Simon Doucet and Count Vallier de Tilly certainly seemed to qualify.
    Their tragic tale as fellow students in a Catholic college, thwarted in their love by parental and church interference, has lost none of its poignancy in its operatic transformation, with Kevin March's score very much on the libretto's wavelength, by turns lyrical and dramatic, written in a musical language accessible to a wide audience. By no means surprisingly, its opening night performance received a standing ovation
    ...When a new opera such as Les Feluettes comes along, treating a socially relevant subject with understanding, compassion and skill, the supposedly conservative opera audience can be seen to respond enthusiastically.
    Read more

  • Composer Neil Weisensel

    The music ... grabbed the audience from the beginning ...
    What a wonderful thing it was to be absolutely swept away by a poignant love story, so beautifully created and performed .
    Read more

  • New gay opera harkens to 19th century greats: Vermont Times Argus.

    Styles range from contemporary atonal to plainsong, yet most of the harmonic language is reminiscent of Debussy, Ravel and even Copland. What makes it feel like Romantic opera are the beautifully lyrical vocal lines with the feel of 19th century French opera composers Gounod and Massenet. Still, what gave this opera its musical power was that these disparate styles were folded together into a cohesive whole.
    ... a beautiful and powerful opera experience.
    Read more

  • Opéra – Ô aimé!: C'est tout naturellement que Les feluettes passent du théâtre à l'opéra. Christian Saint-Pierre, Le Devoir.

    Avec son romantisme consommé, sa théâtralité exacerbée et son abondance de ressorts tragiques, la pièce de Michel Marc Bouchard avait tout pour servir de trame à un opéra... l'opéra de Kevin March est une indéniable consécration.

    With its consummate romanticism, its heightened theatricality and its abundance of tragic impulse, the play by Michel Marc Bouchard had all the ingredients to be the basis of an opera. Kevin March's opera is an undeniable achievement.
    Read more (French)

  • L'opéra Les Feluettes: du wow à l'état pur: Boucle Magazine

    Le spectacle est un pur chef d'oeuvre proposant au public une histoire d'amour d'une vérité et d'une beauté à en couper le souffle ... Absolument magnifique..

    The show is a pure masterpiece, offering the public a love story of breathtaking truth and beauty ... Absolutely magnificent.
    Read more (French)

  • Les Feluettes à l'Opéra de Montréal: Du grand Art!: Gilles G. Lamontagne, Sorstu.ca.

    L'adaptation, assez fidèle au texte de la pièce, est très réussie ... Et ainsi composée sur mesure, la musique de Kevin March soutient l'histoire du début à la fin, jusqu'à atteindre le sublime...
    Jean-Michel Richer se disait aux anges. Vallier, c'est vraiment un très beau cadeau pour moi ... car le rôle a été écrit musicalement pour ma voix ... C'est quelque chose dont tout chanteur lyrique rêve dans sa carrière. Et le résultat est là. Jean-Michel Richer livre une performance sans faille. Le rôle lui va comme un gant.

    The adaptation , quite faithful to the text of the play, is very successful ... And the music of Kevin March, tailor made, supports the story from beginning to end, until it achieves the sublime...
    Jean- Michel Richer said he was thrilled. Vallier is really a wonderful gift for me ... for the role was written musically for my voice ... This is something which every opera singer dreams in his career... Jean-Michel Richer delivers a flawless performance. The role fits him like a glove.

    Read more (French)

  • Opéra & Feluettes: un duo gagnant: Marie-Andrée Caron, La Fabrique Crépue

    J'étais assise sur le bout de ma chaise, et j'ai compris à quel point l'opéra servait, plus que jamais, à rendre ce drame romantique encore plus fort, encore plus violent, encore plus émouvant.

    I sat on the edge of my seat, and I understood how the opera served, more than ever, to make this romantic drama even stronger, more violent, more moving.
    Read more

  • Les Feluettes, émouvant et réussi: Nancie Boulay, Alternative Rock Press

    La musique était parfaitement adaptée aux émotions ressenties par les différents personnages. Certains passages des chansons étaient si accrocheurs que certains spectateurs ont quitté la Place des Arts en les fredonnant... À ne pas manquer!

    The music was perfectly suited to the emotions of the different characters. Some passages of the songs were so catchy that some spectators left the Place des Arts humming them.... Not to be missed!
    Read more (French)

  • Louis Bilodeau, L'Avant-Scène Opéra

    Encore plus que dans Brokeback Mountain de Charles Wuorinen monté à Madrid en 2014, l'Opéra de Montréal secoue les habitudes des spectateurs en présentant une oeuvre où les sentiments entre hommes s'expriment par des duos d'un grand lyrisme....

    Even more than in Brokeback Mountain, mounted by Charles Wuorinen in Madrid in 2014, l'Opéra de Montréal shakes up the habits of viewers by presenting a work where feelings between men are expressed through duets of great lyricism....
    Read more (French)

  • Les Feluettes – Quand le théâtre s'invite à l'opéra: Nathalie Lessard, Pieuvre.ca

    L'ampleur d'un grand amour a été révélée... On est extrêmement touché par ce drame sensuel et passionnel. Un seul bémol : trop peu de représentations.

    The magnitude of a great love has been revealed ...We are extremely touched by this sensual and passionate drama. The only downside: too few performances.
    Read more (French)

Interviews and Previews

  • Interview with Composer Kevin March and Director Serge Denoncourt by Kristine Berey of The Suburban

    [Denoncourt]: I absolutely fell in love with Kevin's music. I'm singing it all the time ... It is contemporary but absolutely gorgeous ... I am more than happy..
    Read more

  • Les Feluettes: Cross-dressing like a Boss: Catherine Doyle of Opera With Pearls interviews Countertenor Daniel Cabena, who plays Lydie-Anne de Rozier.

    I'm ... playing the role of ... a male prisoner who's playing a woman in a play-within-a-play. I think that that extra layer adds a fascinating dimension to the discussion of gender roles, while at the same time rendering it moot! It's really such a wonderful work, full of softness and power and love.
    Read more

  • Une création mondiale pour clore la saison de l'Opéra de Montréal: Les feluettes: Preview by Sylvia L'Écuyer, CBC Ici Musique, plus audio interviews with cast members Gino Quilico and Étienne Dupuis

    Depuis sa création, en 1987, la pièce Les feluettes, de Michel Marc Bouchard, s'est profondément enracinée dans la culture québécoise. Elle a aussi une portée universelle... Raconter de grandes histoires avec les mots de notre terroir.

    Since its creation in 1987, Michel Marc Bouchard's play Les Feluettes has been deeply rooted in Quebec culture. It also has a universal impact ... Telling great stories with the words of our land.
    Read more (French)

  • Interview with Composer Kevin March: Andrew Ford of Radio Australia's The Music Show interviews Kevin Mach just before the world première of Les Feluettes. Kevin talks about achieving this dream project and of the serendipity of two different opera companies, Opéra de Montréal and Pacific Opera Victoria, wanting to commission an opera based on Les Feluettes.

    About 14 years ago when I saw the film version of Lilies ... it struck me that ... I was hearing a libretto that hadn't yet been set to music, I was watching an opera for which the music had not yet been written.


    Listen on The Music Show website

  • CBC Interview with Michel Beaulac. Jeanette Kelly of CBC Montreal's Cinq à Six talks with Michel Beaulac, Artistic Director of Opéra de Montréal. He discusses the story, the process of creating the opera, the cast, and more. (May 7, 2016, in English).

    The text is so poignant, and ... the music brings it to such a high level that it's not a question of sexual orientation, it's a question of love and the impossibility of love and how many relationships between and women are impossible for a thousand reasons ...
    To have the privilege of initiating this project and having Pacific Opera Victoria join in ... it's going to be seen a mari usque ad mare, from sea to sea – Montreal and Victoria. It's a Quebec story, it's a Quebec playwright and ... all the singers are Canadian. I feel so privileged ... to present this ... it's a dream come true.


    Listen on CBC


 

Musical Excerpts

From an Orchestral/vocal workshop in Montreal in December 2015

Magnifique!
A hot air balloon makes its spectacular arrival in the town of Roberval, Quebec. Meanwhile, the Baron de Hüe, a doctor, treats young Simon Doucet for wounds he has received in a severe beating by his father.

Timothy Vernon conducts l'Orchestre Métropolitain in this recording from the 2015 orchestral workshop.


 

Cherchons la direction des vents...
Although he is in love with another young man, Simon has become involved with Lydie-Anne de Rozier, the attractive pilot of a hot-air balloon. Here they sing of sailing away together in her balloon.

Timothy Vernon conducts l'Orchestre Métropolitain in this recording from the 2015 orchestral workshop.


 

Cast and Creative Team

Pacific Opera Victoria and Opéra de Montréal have co-commissioned and co-produced this new opera, based on the acclaimed play by Michel Marc Bouchard, who is the librettist for the opera. POV's Artistic Director Timothy Vernon is the musical dramaturge and conductor for both the Montreal world première in May, 2016, and the Victoria première in April 2017.

  • Conductor: Timothy Vernon
  • Director: Serge Denoncourt
  • Set Designer: Guillaume Lord
  • Costume Designer: François Barbeau
  • Lighting Designer: Martin Labrecque
  • Old Simon Doucet: Gino Quilico
  • Young Simon Doucet: Étienne Dupuis
  • Count Vallier de Tilly: Jean-Michel Richer
  • Monseigneur Bilodeau: Gordon Gietz
  • Jean Bilodeau: James McLennan
  • Countess Marie-Laure de Tilly: Aaron St. Clair Nicholson
  • Lydie-Anne de Rozier: Daniel Cabena
  • Timothée Doucet: Claude Grenier
  • Father Saint--Michel: Normand Richard
  • Baron de Hüe: Patrick Mallette
  • Dancer: Jacques Lemay

 

Overview

A play within a play within a play,
   where love flares into feverish splendour,
     memory becomes a prison, and justice is eternally elusive.

For 30 years, Michel Marc Bouchard's vivid, structurally brilliant play Les Feluettes has been an opera waiting to happen. A major work of Canadian theatre, this stunning romantic drama cries out for operatic treatment.

Premiered in 1987, Les Feluettes (known in English as Lilies) has been translated into English, Spanish, Japanese, and Dutch and produced all over the world. It was made into a Genie-award winning movie in 1996.

The drama revolves round the consequences of a moment in 1912. A group of boys at a Quebec college rehearse Gabriele D'Annunzio's sensual play The Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian. As a devastating love triangle unfolds, one boy dies, one is sent to prison, one becomes a bishop.

Decades later, the bishop is made to watch as prisoners re-enact the past, re-creating a panoply of vivid characters – a young pyromaniac; an old man hunting the missing pieces of his past; a brutal alcoholic; an exiled countess; a beautiful Frenchwoman who pilots a hot-air balloon.


 

Above, playwright and librettist Michel Marc Bouchard, baritone Étienne Dupuis (who plays Young Simon in the Montreal performances), and stage director Serge Denoncourt talk about the new opera Les Feluettes. The video was created by Opére de Montréal in early 2015, before the opera was completed.


 

Composer Kevin March is interviewed during an early workshop of the opera. He recalls being inspired by the film version of Les Feluettes: From the moment I saw the film, I wanted to do this as an opera. He talks about the process of composing this, his first full-length opera (he has previously composed three one-act chamber operas).


 

Resources

  • Michel Marc Bouchard: Website of the Playwright / Librettist.

  • Insight: Les Feluettes, and the lessons learnt: Composer Kevin March on the music of Les Feluettes and the amazing, rewarding, demanding process of creating the opera.

    The premiere ... will be the culmination of five solid years of work and the realisation of a vision that began 14 years ago...
    The play on which the opera is based is rich with musical references and implications. Vallier's and Simon's love is framed by Gabriel D'Annunzio's infamous play Le Martyre de St. Sebastien for which Claude Debussy was commissioned to write incidental music...
    The events which Simon re-enacts for the Bishop are all set in 1912 when the music of the Belle Epoch and the exoticism of American ragtime would have appealed to a segment of Quebec society keen to demonstrate its sophistication. La musique traditionnelle québécoise (traditional folk music of Quebec) would also have been commonly heard, and it's even possible that a Quebec convict in 1952 might have been able to play one of the instruments common to the genre, a fiddle or wooden spoons. Québécoise folk music is itself an eclectic product of the Irish and French settlers (Irish fiddle mixed with French accordion and accompanied rhythmically by wooden spoons).
    In creating the sound of Les Feluettes, it seemed necessary that all of these musical references be respected and represented. The result is an eclectic musical fabric containing quotes from or stylistic allusions to Debussy's incidental music to Le Martyre de St. Sebastien, American ragtime, French Belle Epoch-style cabaret, traditional Québécoise folk music, and even a 19th century Napoleonic anthem. Anything goes (as long as it adds meaning)...
    Les Feluettes has been the most amazing, rewarding, rigorous, demanding project I've worked on.
    Read more

  • Kevin March: Composer's Website

  • Opéra de Montréal: Web page on Les Feluettes


 

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All performances take place at the Royal Theatre, 805 Broughton Street, Victoria.