Music: Kevin March
Libretto: Michel Marc Bouchard
leads: 3 ten., 3 bar., 3 bass., ct.; chorus (20)
orchestra: 2/2/2/2 with doublings, 4/2/2/1, timp., 2 perc., 2 hp., folkband (accord., fid., wooden spoons), stgs. (8/6/4/2/2 min.)
21 May 2016
Opéra de Montréal
Serg Denoncourt, director; Orchestre de Metropolitan, Timothy Vernon, cond.
Les Feluettes is set in 1952. Simon Doucet, in prison for a murder he did not commit, summons Bishop Jean Bilodeau to hear a last confession. Upon his arrival, the bishop is kidnapped by Simon and his fellow inmates and forced to watch a re-creation of the events that took place 40 years earlier in 1912 when Simon and Bishop Bilodeau were schoolmates and when Simon was in love with Vallier de Tilly, a young, French aristocrat exiled with his mother to Quebec. Simon’s purpose: get Bilodeau to confess to the crime he’d committed and for which Simon was unjustly condemned.
“With its consummate romanticism, its heightened theatricality and its abundance of tragic impulse, the play by Michel Marc Bouchard had all the ingredients to be the basis of an opera. Kevin March’s opera is an undeniable achievement.
The show is a pure masterpiece, offering the public a love story of breathtaking truth and beauty… Absolutely magnificent.”
“Opéra – Ô aimé!: C’est tout naturellement que
Les feluettes passent du théâtre à l’opéra”
“The music was perfectly suited to the emotions of the different characters. Some passages of the songs were so catchy that some spectators left the Place des Arts humming them… Not to be missed! ”
“Les Feluettes, émouvant et réussi”
Alternative Rock Press
“Les Feluettes is a bold work, … opening ambitious and unfamiliar paths to opera, daring to confront new realities.
…as Death in Venice by Benjamin Britten had done at the time, Les Feluettes, due to its rebellious nature, ventures into the intricacies of an art, the sustainability of which will never be questioned.
And of course, … the heartbreaking score…”
“L’art Aiguisé De La Revendication”
“New operas with sufficient force and good fortune to become fully staged productions by a company of note are rare beasts… which makes Les Feluettes something precious indeed… this powerful and darkly beautiful opera seems likely to flourish much further afield. ”
“Les Feluettes in Montréal: New World opera triumphs”
“ …beautifully lyrical vocal lines… Les Feluettes was a beautiful and powerful opera experience.
Styles range from contemporary atonal to plainsong, yet most of the harmonic language is reminiscent of Debussy, Ravel and even Copland. What makes it feel like Romantic opera are the beautifully lyrical vocal lines with the feel of 19th century French opera composers Gounod and Massenet. Still, what gave this opera its musical power was that these disparate styles were folded together into a cohesive whole. …
a beautiful and powerful opera experience.”
“New gay opera harkens to 19th century greats”
Vermont Times Argus
“….there was no restraint in the cheering of the crowd in Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier of Place des Arts. March had found room for tough expressionism, comic relief and melting lyricism. There was not a moment in the unfolding of the central romantic story that seemed less than universal.“
“Review: New opera Les Feluettes works on many levels”
“Deception, obsession, betrayal, and murder – Bouchard’s story has all of the trappings of a great opera. March’s eclectic and cinematic score was as if…Debussy and Britten met in Hollywood. … Les Feluettes hit on all the right notes.”
Kiersten van Vliet,
“Review: Les Feluettes by Opéra de Montréal and Pacific Opera Victoria”
La Scena Musicale
“The adaptation, quite faithful to the text of the play, is very successful… And the music of Kevin March, tailor made, supports the story from beginning to end, until it achieves the sublime…
Jean- Michel Richer said he was thrilled. ‘Vallier is really a wonderful gift for me… for the role was written musically for my voice… This is something which every opera singer dreams in his career…’
Jean-Michel Richer delivers a flawless performance. The role fits him like a glove.”
Gilles G. Lamontagne
“Les Feluettes à l’Opéra de Montréal: Du grand Art!”
“Even more than in Brokeback Mountain, mounted by Charles Wuorinen in Madrid in 2014, l’Opéra de Montréal shakes up the habits of viewers by presenting a work where feelings between men are expressed through duets of great lyricism…. ”
“I sat on the edge of my seat, and I understood how the opera served, more than ever, to make this romantic drama even stronger, more violent, more moving. ”
“Opéra & Feluettes: un duo gagnant”
La Fabrique Crépue
“The magnitude of a great love has been revealed… We are extremely touched by this sensual and passionate drama. The only downside: too few performances. ”
“Les Feluettes – Quand le théâtre s’invite à l’opéra”
“[A] beautiful and touching spectacle.
One downside, there will for the moment be only four performances of Les Feluettes in Montreal, … When we see the work and energy deployed on this stage, we can only regret that it does not continue.”
“Les feluettes, c’est notre Roméo et Juliette”
The world première of Les Feluettes was the final event in the annual conference of Opera America, the service organization for North America’s opera companies. William Littler reviews Les Feluettes and discusses how today’s operatic movers and shakers are keeping opera relevant and meaningful.
“The title is Quebec slang for weak or effeminate men and, to the provincial society of early 20th-century Quebec, the young Simon Doucet and Count Vallier de Tilly certainly seemed to qualify.
Their tragic tale as fellow students in a Catholic college, thwarted in their love by parental and church interference, has lost none of its poignancy in its operatic transformation, with Kevin March’s score very much on the libretto’s wavelength, by turns lyrical and dramatic, written in a musical language accessible to a wide audience. By no means surprisingly, its opening night performance received a standing ovation…
When a new opera such as Les Feluettes comes along, treating a socially relevant subject with understanding, compassion and skill, the supposedly conservative opera audience can be seen to respond enthusiastically.”
“Opera’s movers and shakers keep it from museums”