March 9, 2012

Conversation with Yan Muckle, Librettist of Alexandra

Snapshot from the production

Montréal, Friday, March 9, 2012 — While Pauline Vaillancourt travels from one rehearsal hall to the next to work on the staging with the principal performers, Yan Muckle, the librettist, talks to us today about the writing of this “road-opera”.

Having previously written two other librettos for Chants Libres (Yo soy la desintegracion and Lulu, le chant souterrain), it was with much enthusiasm that he dove into the new project. “I’ve been interested in spirituality, in creation and travel for a long time — three themes at the heart of Alexandra David-Néel’s life work”, he says.

After having been an opera singer in Tunis and a feminist before her time, Alexandra David-Néel (1868-1969) embraced Buddhism and left her home to criss-cross Asia, leaving behind many tales of her voyages and letters describing her adventures. Yan Muckle says he mined this rich material to write the libretto.

“It was impossible to put all the details about such a tumultuous and long life into one story (Alexandra was more than a century old when she died). That’s why Pauline and I chose to illustrate a specific period of her life: her repeated attempts to enter Tibet, at that time forbidden to foreigners, in order to make her way to Lhassa — which she finally managed to do after a journey of eight months, on foot, disguised as a Tibetan beggar…”

“She had a thirst for knowledge, for discovery and for transformation: three impulses pushing her incessant travelling”, says Yan Muckle. After having travelled to Tibet with Pauline Vaillancourt to be able to soak in the Tibet of today, and to collect images and sounds for the upcoming production, he hopes that they will “succeed in providing a little of the sight, sounds and beauty of this internal and external quest, as intense as it is timeless…”

Chants Libres

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