May 14, 2012

Chants Libres’ 14th New Opera

A road opera about Alexandra David‐Néel’s incredible expedition to Tibet, “the woman with soles of wind”

Montréal, Monday, May 14, 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.

«Alexandra’s epic life offers us a lesson in courage, curiosity and perseverance. She always lived up to her motto ‘Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes can see. She wanted to explore the fullness of truth, which always led her farther, making her constantly go beyond her limits…It’s this clandestine and dangerous journey that will be at the heart of this opera.» — Pauline Vaillancourt, Artistic Direction and Stage Direction.

Young Alexandra is played by the soprano Jessica Wise, the narrator is played by the soprano Pauline Vaillancourt and the role of her adopted son, Aphur Yongden, is played by the tenor François‐Olivier Jean.

A choir of 5 male voices is made up of bass‐baritones, John Giffen, Patrick Mallette and Philippe Martel, and basses Steeve Vérayie and François Dubé, and they play alternately, monks, nomads, soldiers and peasants.

Six musicians from In Extensio EnsembleBarah Héon‐Morissette and Olivier Maranda, percussion; Louise Campbell, clarinet; David Jomphe, oboe; Angelo Munoz, trombone; Andrea Stewart, cello; conducted by Cristian Gort, accompanying the singers on stage.

The visual artist Jocelyne Alloucherie designed the set; Jean Décarie and Catherine Parent the videography, inspired by the visual material brought back from Tibet in 2010 by Yan Muckle and Pauline Vaillancourt. Lighting is by Nicolas Descoteaux, costumes by Marianne Thériault and make‐up by Jacques‐Lee Pelletier.

Media Contact: Marie Marais — 514-845-2821 —

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