May 15, 2012

Conversation with François-Olivier Jean, Tenor

Snapshot from the production

Montréal, Tuesday, May 15, 2012 — 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!”

Chants Libres

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