Widely acclaimed in the world’s greatest opera houses, a leading work of the 21st century opera repertoire — Written on Skin — comes to the Opéra de Montréal stage on January 25 in an all-new production, the work’s Canadian premiere. The New York Times considers the opera’s British composer, George Benjamin, to be “one of the most formidable composers of his generation.”
“It’s a real coup for the Opéra de Montréal to be able to present this first Canadian production of Written on Skin, an opera composed in the last decade that we believe will still be performed in the world’s greatest opera houses one hundred years from now,” exclaims Patrick Corrigan, General Director of the Opéra de Montréal. “And it’s all the more significant for us to allow all of these talented Canadian artists to make their debuts in this international-calibre work,” adds Corrigan.
The company’s Artistic Director, Michel Beaulac, goes further, stating “Magnificent soprano Magali Simard-Galdès is perfect for the role of Agnès. Her ingenuousness and, at the same time, the strength that dwells within her make her an ideal performer for this most demanding role, which requires both astonishing virtuosity and formidable stage presence. We are also very fortunate to be welcoming two incredible Quebec artists for their Opéra de Montréal debuts: renowned designer Philippe Dubuc, who has created the costumes, and conductor Nicole Paiement, who has enjoyed a brilliant international career for many years,” concludes Beaulac.
A FRAGMENTED WORLD
A chorus of angels takes us back 800 years, bringing to life the work’s main characters: young Agnès, who lives under the yoke of her possessive and violent husband, the Protector. She exists in an opaque and suffocating world. But one of the angels, the Boy, leads Agnès to discover the unsuspected strengths within her.
We are Agnès. Agnès is us. How do we free ourselves from that which stifles us?
“Disillusioned and cynical angels relate a medieval legend that is played out in our modern society, a world that is fractured and in ruins. To illustrate this story of oppression—but also of emancipation—, past and present exist side by side, with several anachronisms underscoring the juxtaposition of the different eras,” states stage director Alain Gauthier. “Olivier Landreville’s apocalyptic set design reveals trestles inspired by medieval theatre, highlighting writer Martin Crimp’s mise en abyme approach, and ingeniously conveying the idea of a play within a play. Also, with the use of a more confined and intimate performance space, we can shine a spotlight on the acting and focus on the characters’ psychological make-up.”
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Well-established in Montreal, at the crossroads of North American and European culture, the Opéra de Montréal acts as a catalyst for the city’s artistic creativity and celebrates Quebec and Canada’s rich vocal heritage, showcasing opera at its most diverse and daring. From great classics of the opera repertoire and innovative new works from home and abroad, to a training program for the finest young Canadian singers and a strong commitment to the community and to education, the Opéra de Montréal offers unforgettable operatic events at which everyone is warmly received and feels welcome.