Opéra de Québec gala highlights World Opera Day

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Photo: Shirley Nadeau

Jean-François Lapointe, artistic director of Opéra de Québec, invites everyone to celebrate World Opera Day on Oct. 25 by watching the Gala Opéra de Québec online.

After a months-long pause due to the pandemic, the Opéra de Québec (OdQ) is restarting its activities with a virtual gala concert on Oct. 25 at 3 p.m. to mark World Opera Day, artistic director Jean-François Lapointe announced.

This exceptional free event, starring seven well-known Quebec lyrical singers, will be streamed live on OdQ’s Facebook page, YouTube account and website. It will remain available on these sites for several days after the livestream.

The show will be produced at the Grand Théâtre without an audience. The singers – Frédéric Antoun, Karina Gauvin, Hélène Guilmette, Jean-François Lapointe, Eric Laporte, Marie-Nicole Lemieux and Philippe Sly – will perform solo, accompanied by the Orchestre symphonique de Québec under the direction of Jean-Marie Zeitouni. Jean-Sébastien Ouellette will host the event. The program is comprised of some of the most beautiful arias of the Italian and French opera repertoire.

Lapointe, artistic director of OdQ since September 2020, said, “The pandemic gave me the unique opportunity to applaud these outstanding Québécois artists, who have international careers. I wanted the concert to remain free, but I encourage people to make a donation to help cover the cost of the production and support the Opéra de Québec, which is an important institution in Quebec.”

Donations may be made online at operadequebec.com/en/support/giving or by mailing a cheque made out to the Fondation de l’Opéra de Québec.

Lapointe said his plans for the near future include small projects, concerts with one or two singers, socially distanced. “We won’t remain confined forever. Perhaps we will return to concerts in halls with a reduced number of people. We are not used to watching classical music, opera in particular, online, but it is a useful stage to salute opera.

“It is difficult to say what we will do after the pandemic. We want to continue, but are unsure of the future. [Puccini’s] Madama Butterfly was planned for May 2021. The Opera Festival next summer may have to be adapted to the circumstances. We are at the mercy of the evolution of the pandemic. If we want to succeed, everyone has to be careful and respect public health guidelines.”

Lapointe outlined his vision for the future of the OdQ. “I would like to work on a summer festival of French operas. There are many Italian operas that have been written in French. I would also like to see newly created French-language operas performed during the festival. For the rest of the season, everything is possible. I would very much like to explore American musicals and operettas.

“Another option is to present concert versions of operas with only soloists and orchestra [performers] on stage. This reduces the cost of the set decor and costumes.

“I would also like to present recitals during the days between opera productions to highlight some of the singers who have less important roles.”

In addition to being the artistic director of the OdQ, Lapointe has “three or four years” of opera engagements planned in Europe. He is also an invited professor at the Université Laval faculty of music, where he counsels rising young opera singers.

The first World Opera Day was held on Oct. 25, 2019 to shine a light on opera’s contribution to people’s well-being. To learn more, visit worldoperaday.com.

For details of the Opéra de Québec Gala, visit  operadequebec.com/programmation/le-gala-de-lopera.