Société de musique contemporaine du Québec (SMCQ) Closes Season With “Manuscrit trouvé à Saragosse”

SMCQ opera

To close its 52nd concert season, dedicated to the composer José Evangelista, the Société de musique contemporaine du Québec (SMCQ) is giving the public the unique opportunity of hearing his great opera “Manuscrit trouvé à Saragosse” again this June 7th at 7:30 pm at the Studio-Theatre Alfred-Laliberté – UQAM. More than 15 years after having created the opera with Chants Libres, the SMCQ is presenting it this time in a concert version, in a sober staging by Lorraine Pintal.

Walter Boudreau, at the helm of the project, explains: “To pay a tribute worthy of the name to José Evangelista, it was essential to recapture his opera Manuscrit trouvé à Saragosse, which is in a way a “summary” of all that appeals to and fascinates us in his music: a learned blend of exotic and contemporary melodies, in the service here as a labyrinthine narrative that borders on the psychedelic. A work as crazy as it is refined!”

Initiatory Journey Under Exotic Musical Influences

Gypsy and Moorish, Jewish and Christian musical influences mark this lyrical portrait where the surprising stories of many people encountered by Alphonse Van Orden fit together, during an initiatory tour in the south of Spain.

“The intrigue of Manuscrit is based on a mystification. The ambiguity between reality and appearance is present everywhere”, says José Evangelista, whose music serves as a guide to finding one’s way through the twists and turns of the novel by Jan Potocki adapted by Alexis Nouss for the occasion. “To make understandable the different levels of the novel’s framework, I assigned myself the task of musically identifying the characters and of reflecting the diversity of genres present in the novel. Consequently, I use a variety of musical styles associated with the characters identified by their religious, cultural or social origin […]”, explains the composer.

9 Singers for More Than 30 Characters

The approximately 30 characters put to music by Evangelista are brought to the stage by 9 singers, accompanied by 10 musicians of the SMCQ Ensemble. Each singer plays several characters, with the exception of the performer Alphonse van Worden, whose figure is the central theme of the story. “To give life to this key role in Manuscrit trouvé à Saragosse, I decided to call on a man who had brought it to the stage with such brilliance at the creation of the work in 2001: the baritone Bernard Levasseur”, explains Walter Boudreau, who for the other roles found some of the best classical/contemporary voices in the country. Sizeable talents – some of which would come from Quebec City and Toronto – to meet the formidable challenge represented by this monumental work.

Encounter Between Two Artistic Visions

Sober elements of staging, including a video projection, will serve as a “framework” for this great lyrical journey. To this end, Walter Boudreau relied on the touch of Lorraine Pintal, with whom he has worked closely for many years. The result: a happy union of two strong artistic visions of Evangelista’s work, at times barren and ghostly, at other times humorous and psychedelic.


What: Concert Manuscrit trouvé à Saragosse
When: Thursday, June 7, 2018, 7:30 pm
Where: Studio-théâtre Alfred-Laliberté – UQAM
1400, Berri Street, Montreal (Métro Berri-UQAM)
Price: 40 $ / 34 $ (Seniors) / 28 $ (Students)
Information: 514 843-9305 # 301

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