With only a few hours to go before the world premiere of Alexandra, François-Oliver Jean talks to us about his passion for opera, the character he’s playing, and creating new opera…
“I grew up in a family where music and art in general was always front and centre. For me, opera is one of the forms of artistic expression that is the most fantastic and the most complete.
Yongden is a fascinating character. But, what’s most intriguing, is the way he lived his life. At the age of 15, he abandoned everything to follow Alexandra. Risking his own life he followed her until the end, even though it meant leaving his native country. Alexandra David-Néel represented more than simple friendship, we might even call it a cosmic link. We have so few examples of such devotion, of such sacrifices, in the era in which we live.
The biggest challenge for creating a new piece that has never been sung publicly before is trying to live up to the expectations of the composer, to perform the score as he wishes it to be performed, like he hears it in his head. For me, there is no greater honour than bringing a new opera to life for the first time.
Creating new work is probably the most interesting facet of a singer’s life. In Quebec, we are lucky to have a young but very strong tradition in contemporary music. Our audiences are not only open to it but also interested. In fact I am working on a few new projects that should be premiered during the coming year!”
News posted by Chants Libres on Tuesday, May 15, 2012
After celebrating its 20th anniversary with ARIAS, a major retrospective of its first twenty years, Chants Libres, the lyric creation company, is presenting its 14th opera ‐ Alexandra.
This new chamber opera was inspired by the extraordinary life of the French adventurer Alexandra David‐ Néel who travelled over the highest peaks in the world in sometimes extreme conditions. Having lived to be one hundred and one, she was in turns, an opera singer, a journalist, a feminist, a Buddhist, a writer, a philosopher and most of all, an adventurer.
Alexandra tells the story of the dangerous and clandestine expedition she undertook in 1924 on Tibetan soil in order to reach the forbidden capital city of Lhassa, accompanied by a young lama named Aphur Yongden, who would later become her adopted son. After a journey of more than 3000 kilometres through the Himalayas, she became the first Western woman to visit the holy city.
News posted by Chants Libres on Monday, May 14, 2012
The concept of a «road opera» is unusual for this musical style. However, it’s the direction I naturally wanted to take after having read Yan Muckle’s libretto. What interested me in this musical style, was the idea of movement in counterpoint. Because, in this story, we have the exterior world in movement (the landscape passing by) and the interior world (a pilgrimage) which implies transformation. There is also physical movement, and the movement of the spirit. The opposition between these two types of movement is rich and complimentary. In Alexandra, the physical world is rhythmic, charged… as opposed to the exterior world which is out of time.
News posted by Chants Libres on Thursday, May 10, 2012
Chants Libres, the lyric creation company, produces and tours new forms of opera, of variable geometry, in which artistic and technological innovation come together.
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