September 12, 2013

Opera de Montreal opens season with 'Lakme'

MONTREAL — The curtain rises once again for the Opera de Montreal, this year celebrating its 34th season.


Opening the season is “Lakme” by composer Leo Delibes.

“The new season is very exciting,” said Opera de Montreal artistic director Michel Beaulac. “We’re opening with ‘Lakme.’ And we planned it that way.”

Beaulac said the production enjoys a special 50th anniversary milestone; it was the first concert presented at Place des Arts when the facility opened in 1963.

“Lakme” tells the operatic tale of a British soldier in Ceylon during colonial times who meets and falls in love with Lakme, the daughter of a high Hindu priest. But the clash of colonial cultures suggests that this love match may not last.

“It’s very traditional in that is has an exotic, Oriental flavor, which was very fashionable in French music during the later-19th century,” Beaulac said. “And the story is just touching and romantic.”

Beaulac said he promises “a very big celebration for the opening night.” 

Big as in Bollywood big.

“The set and design is very Bollywood — very bright, very luminescent,” Beaulac said. “I think the audience will be seduced.”

“Lakme” is presented Sept. 21, 24, 26 and 28.


Coming in November is “Falstaff” by Giuseppe Verdi.

“This will celebrate Verdi’s bicentennial,” Beaulac said. Verdi was born in 1813.

Paolo Gavanelli enjoys the plum title role of the “old, potbellied Sir John Falstaff,” a ladies’ man who sends out one too many identical love letters — to his complete and utter humiliation.

“Paolo is perhaps one of the four or five greatest Falstaffs of the last century,” Beaulac said.

“Falstaff” is presented Nov. 9, 12, 14 and 16.


Verdi sticks around for Opera de Montreal’s annual fundraising gala, which takes its turn in December.

“It will be dedicated solely to Verdi’s music,” Beaulac said.

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