Road Opera
  • Music: Zack Settel
  • Libretto: Yan Muckle
  • Original Concept and Stage Direction: Pauline Vaillancourt


Travel is a process of discovery and transformation. It is undoubtedly for this reason that Alexandra David-Néel (1868-1969) travelled so extensively. After being an opera singer in Tunis, and a feminist before her time, she embraced Buddhism and left her home to embrace what was forbidden and to scoff at the difficulties she might encounter.

The story takes place in the 1920’s. Alexandra, then in her fifties, had already criss-crossed Asia as a lover of the Orient and as a writer. Yet one achievement remained out of her grasp: to enter the city of Lhassa, the mythical capital of Tibet, forbidden to all westerners. For this French adventurer whose calling card was her courage and her stubbornness, for this woman with an insatiable thirst for freedom whose motto was “Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes can see”, for this erudite scholar in search of forbidden knowledge, such a prohibition was unbearable.

She tried many times to enter Tibet but suffered setback after setback. This only rekindled her desire and strengthened her determination to continue: “We cannot enter, really? Well, a woman will get through!”

So begins an incredible and clandestine journey. For more than eight months, starting in China, Alexandra marches towards Lhassa disguised as a Tibetan beggar. Accompanied by the young Tibetan Aphur Yongden, who would later become her adopted son, Alexandra risks everything in the mountains.

If her gamble pays off, she will be the first western woman to enter the forbidden capital city…

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