December 17, 2014

The performance opera Canti del Capricorno is presented in Montreal

Montréal, Wednesday, December 17, 2014 —

  • Marie-Annick Béliveau — Mezzo-soprano
  • Recorded musicians: Julien Grégoire and François Gauthier, percussion; René Gosselin, double bass; Simon Stone, saxophone; Pauline Vaillancourt, voice

Alone on stage, the woman-Capricorn, wrapped in an impressive crinoline with an exaggerated sex organ, slowly removes her costume and begins a moulting process, like an initial path to the heart of a universe that is at once symbolic, mythical and dreamlike.

Chants Libres is remounting Canti Del Capricorno, a performance opera by the Italian composer Giacinto Scelsi, a remarkable work from his repertoire that the company created in 1995 at the Montreal Contemporary Art Museum and which garnered much success with both audiences and critics.

Scelsi’s music, extremely difficult to perform and magnificently brought to life by Pauline Vaillancourt during the creation twenty years ago on various international stages, is performed this time by the mezzo-soprano Marie Annick Béliveau, a rising star in contemporary opera, accompanied by 5 pre-recorded musicians (percussion, double bass, saxophone and voice)

Canti del Capricorno is an important milestone when it comes to new forms of opera, with its «re-invented musical notation». It is a cycle of 17 pieces for solo voice, composed over a number of years, featuring music of incredible sonic geometry, great harmonic richness and rhythmic complexity, requiring vocal and technical prowess from the performer as well as great physical energy.

«The score is made up of a language of primitive sounds which avoids words, but that speaks, speech that becomes free. The manuscript brought me back to the essence of breathing, to the expression of the voice and the power of the body, the expression and the singing of life» explains Pauline Vaillancourt.

Marie-Annick Béliveau saw the original Montreal production and found «that Pauline Vaillancourt’s work corresponded to the challenges that must be taken up by an artist in contemporary art». In 2011, the Artistic Director of Chants Libres chose her to perform an excerpt of the piece as part of ARIAS, a show celebrating the company’s 20 year anniversary. In 2015, the young mezzo-soprano will take up the challenge of singing Canti del Capricorno in its entirety.

Most of the creative team who worked with Pauline Vaillancourt during the creative process of the original production in 1995 (it was her first original concept and staging of an opera) are back for the remount of Canti del Capricorno. The original concept and stage direction by Pauline Vaillancourt, set design and the costume by the artist Massimo Guerrera, videos by Michel Giroux and Jean Décarie, lighting by Nancy Bussières and make-up by Jacques-Lee Pelletier. The pre-recorded musicians are Julien Grégoire and François Gauthier on percussion, René Gosselin on double bass, Simon Stone on saxophone and Pauline Vaillancourt, voice.

The Italian Giacinto Scelsi (La Spezia 1905 — Rome 1988) produced more than 150 works, leaving us with surprising scores, from choral to piano, from orchestral to solo voice. Halfway between oriental and occidental, he thought of his music in terms of energy. Canti del Capricorno, songs from himself having been born under that sign, came about through his collaboration with Japanese soprano Michiko Hirayama, a singer who worked with the composer for more than 20 years. It is from her that the manuscript of Canti del Capricorno was handed over (it is still not published) to Pauline Vaillancourt during her residency at Royaumont in France.

Michiko Hirayama and Pauline Vaillancourt are among the rare performers who have sung this work which requires a constant fluctuation of the voice, and Chants Libres is the only company in the world to have staged it. The young Quebecois mezzo-soprano Marie-Annick Béliveau, who we also saw in November 2009 in the Enchanted opera by Gilles Tremblay, L’eau qui danse, la pomme qui chante et l’oiseau qui dit la vérité, will now sing this work of impressive sonic intensity and density.

The body resonates like a sonar.
The intruder becomes the other… The other then becomes “the other self”…
Sparks, awakenings, curiosity, openness…
No more prey or predators.
A metabolic cataclysm is being prepared in the laboratory of the body.
(Excerpts from the synopsis by Guy Beausoleil)

Chants Libres

Founded in 1990 by the soprano Pauline Vaillancourt, in association with Joseph Saint-Gelais and Renald Tremblay, Chants Libres has produced an operatic repertoire adapted to the colours of modernity and is constantly exploring new techniques and approaches to the vocal arts. Since its founding, the company has commissioned many new works and Le rêve de Grégoire is the 15th new opera by Chants Libres. Le Rêve de Grégoire by Pierre Michaud, with stage direction by René-Daniel Dubois, presented in May 2014 by Chants Libres in co-production with the SMCQ, won the Opus Prize for Creation of the Year 2014." The company also offers training workshops for singers, and has produced 5 CDs and 5 DVDs.

Canti del Capricorno,produced by Chants Libres, is presented as part of Le Vivier’s 2015 season and the company receives support from the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, the Canada Council, the Conseil des arts de Montréal and HexagramUQAM.

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