La Reine-Garçon : A new work by Michel Marc Bouchard and Julien Bilodeau at the Opéra de Montréal


The Opéra de Montréal announces a new opera, La Reine-Garçon, with a libretto by Michel Marc Bouchard and music by Julien Bilodeau, which will be presented in Montreal and in Toronto in 2023. This work, the first to be co-commissioned by the Opéra de Montréal and the Canadian Opera Company in Toronto, once again substantiates Montreal’s undeniably important role in creating a new opera repertoire showcasing our greatest homegrown talents.

The popular and critical success of the opera Les Feluettes, which had its world premiere at the Opéra de Montréal in May 2016, confirmed Montrealers’ passion for works that reflect the perspectives of Quebec artists on stories that are universal in scope. It is in this spirit that the company commissioned the creative duo of Michel Marc Bouchard and Julien Bilodeau to write a work entitled La beauté du monde—announced last spring— which will be given its world premiere in 2021.
“We are thrilled to offer our audiences this exciting new operatic adventure by two of Montreal’s most eminent artists,” says Patrick Corrigan, General Director of the Opéra de Montréal. “The Opéra de Montréal is truly delighted to partner with the Canadian Opera Company in our first co-commission of a new work together.”
Michel Beaulac, Artistic Director of the Opéra de Montréal, explains: “Free, assured, both powerful and fragile, Christina of Sweden broke the mould imposed upon her in her day to fully exercise her freedom as a woman. The contemporaneity and relevance of the subject matter called for a new opera. In his libretto, an always inspired Michel Marc Bouchard confirms that he is destined for the operatic world.”
La Reine-Garçon is based on the play Christine, la reine-garçon, by Michel Marc Bouchard, which was presented for the first time at the Théâtre du Nouveau Monde in Montreal in 2012 and has since been performed numerous times around the world. The work is inspired by Sweden’s Queen Christina, whose scandalously flamboyant and unconventional reign came to an end when she abdicated the throne at the age of 27. The opera focuses more specifically on a tumultuous period in the young monarch’s life, when a visit from French philosopher René Descartes led her to call into question everything that had defined her to date… even her love for Countess Ebba Sparre.
The work is the first to be co-commissioned by the Opéra de Montréal and the Canadian Opera Company in Toronto. On that matter, Alexander Neef, General Director of the COC, states: “We are delighted to be partnering with Opéra de Montréal on La Reine-Garçon. Collaborations like this are key to unlocking the potential of Canadian operatic storytelling.”
“This story is about the foundation of modern society and the birth of great ideas that shaped the principles of humanism that are still, and even more, relevant today,” he says. “Free spirit, gender equality, and scientific knowledge – just to name a few - are well addressed in this beautiful text and Christine, the reine-garçon, embodies all, making her the perfect subject for an opera. She is ahead of her time and asks forbidden questions because she seeks to know who we are as human beings.”
“Working with Michel Marc is a true privilege,” adds Bilodeau. “His gift for words and his sensibility for music has led to a collaboration that is rightly challenging for me, as a composer.”
“It is a pleasure for me to work with Julien,” explains Michel Marc Bouchard. “He is a true source of inspiration. Julien’s musical writing is masterful and incorporates the lyricism and sensitivity required to portray the many sides of Sweden’s queen. Whether we are creating scenes of great intimacy or epic grandeur, Julien can convey both the most delicate and most powerful of emotions.”
THE OPÉRA DE MONTRÉAL: modern works and classics, side by side
After having presented 21st century works for the past five seasons, the Opéra de Montréal has come to recognize its audience’s keen interest in modern operas, which comfortably coexist alongside classics of the repertoire, for long-time fans and newcomers alike. These new works, veritable adventures that attract a diverse pool of artists and focus on extremely varied themes, demonstrate the extent to which opera is a relevant, wide-ranging, and profoundly modern art form.
New works presented in the last five years :
2019 – Twenty-Seven, by Ricky Ian Gordon and Royce Vavrek
2019 – Champion, by Terence Blanchard and Michael Cristofer
2018 – Svabda, by Ana Sokolovic
2018 – JFK, by David T. Little and Royce Vavrek
2017 – Another Brick in the Wall – The Opera, by composer Julien Bilodeau, after the words and music of The Wall by Roger Waters
2016 – Les Feluettes, by Michel Marc Bouchard and Kevin March
2015 – Silent Night, by Kevin Puts and Mark Campbell
2014 – Dead Man Walking, by Jake Heggie
History of world premieres at the company :
2017 – Another Brick in the WallThe Opera, by composer Julien Bilodeau, after the words and music of The Wall by Roger Waters
2016 – Les Feluettes, by Michel Marc Bouchard and Kevin March
2002 – Thérèse Raquin, by Tobias Picker
1990 – Nelligan, by André Gagnon and Michel Tremblay