Rachel Burman / Opéra Foe
MUSIC/THEATRE (MODERN OPERA)
A woman recounts her childhood while presenting a slideshow of family photographs. Behind these tender snapshots lurks a shocking secret. Her songs - by turns wistful, liberating, increasingly unhinged – will reveal the hidden story. A window opens, intimate, half-dreamed, on the life of a 1970's Québecois family... and the turbulent mind of the woman remembering it all.
The singer's own family photos provide the inspiration and visual material for her fictional narrative. Four inventive musicians accompany the irresistible mezzo-soprano Marie-Annick Béliveau in interpreting this intensely free operatic score, laden with beauty and trouble…
- Music, libretto, stage direction:
- Rachel Burman
- Marie-Annick Béliveau (mezzo-soprano)
- Musicians: Rachel Burman (cello, vocal loops); Paul Carter (winds, multi-instrumentalist); Christine Hoerning (clarinette); André Pappathomas (invented instruments)
- Lighting design:
- Nancy Bussières
Opéra FOE (Free Opera Ensemble) is an original production company that draws on a variety of research techniques and sources of inspiration in order to explore new forms of expression in contemporary opera. Their activities encompass all aspects of the creation of an opera, from conceiving and composing the libretto and score, to the staging of the opera itself. Opéra FOE's first full production, Notre Damn (presented at La Chapelle in 2014), employed a form of gestural choreography to convey the emotional states of three fictional characters, inspired by historical events. In this new creation, the performer's family's photographic archive and interviews with her are the building blocks of the libretto and the primary inspiration for the show. Opéra FOE will release their first album, Notre Damn, in November 2017.
The libretto for Slideshow emerged from interviews with mezzo-soprano Marie-Annick Béliveau as she showed composer Rachel Burman more than 1,000 slides of family photographs, while recounting anecdotes about the people behind the images, as well as multiple facets of Quebec’s social history. Eight hours of these interviews were then transcribed and used as the building blocks for the (fictional) libretto. Vocabulary, turns of phrase, anecdotes and themes were dismantled and reconfigured to form the opera’s dramatic thread, and the performer’s narrative. One of the motivations behind this mixture of fiction and biography was to arouse in the performer a slight vulnerability, borne of self-revelation - lending her performance a unique emotional force.