Spotlight on Rose Naggar-Tremblay

Spotlight on Rose Naggar-Tremblay (Atelier 2017-2020), artist in residence at the Opéra de Montréal—mezzo, librettist, and composer!

Among her thousands of projects this season, Rose is holding writing workshops for young people of ages 15 to 24 dealing with mental health issues, as part of the ET at the Opera project. Here, she tells us about the highlights of these encounters during which these young people are encouraged to become artisans and performers in the process of creating a mini opera!

For a second season now, you are guiding young people involved in the ET at the Opera project, helping them write the libretto for their show (they are rewriting Mozart’s The Magic Flute). How have you drawn on all of your talents to equip these young people and guide them in the writing of their very own opera?

I was surprised to discover certain cross-disciplinary skills that I didn’t know I had before embarking on the ET at the Opera adventure. I developed an ability to filter the participants’ proposals and to get them down to the essentials. My active listening and my artistic instinct allow me to quickly express a paragraph in a few key words and to help my co-librettists focus their thoughts. I always prepare my activities in great detail so as to make the most out of our time together, but I think it’s my flexibility and my ability to swiftly react when inspiration bubbles up that best serve the project.

What are the greatest challenges you’ve had to face… and some unexpected moments?

At the very first workshop, I suggested to the young people that we begin a process of collaboration. I would teach them what I know about song writing, singing, and the operatic tradition, and they would help me fulfill my dream of becoming a librettist. We all listened and showed great courage, opening up the doors to our respective inner worlds. I am constantly amazed by the maturity of their thoughts, their poetic sensibility, their imagination and, above all, the truthfulness of their writing.

Singer, composer, and librettist… How do you pursue and develop all of these facets of your creativity?

Etienne Dupuis recently told us in a master class that, on stage as in life, the more energy you put in, the more your body will generate (I’m paraphrasing). This is exactly what I feel in my personal work. When I sense that my performer battery is running low, I recharge myself by writing or composing, and vice-versa.

What can people expect when they come see this version of Mozart’s The Magic Flute in May?

Our libretto takes a look at the world of The Magic Flute from a human and philosophical perspective. We imagined a continuation of the story, transposing the setting to some 500 years later, in a museum commemorating the death of the Queen of the Night. The young people took a critical look at the notion of good and evil, paying particular attention to giving some nuance to the characters in the original story. The audience will see a Magic Museum that reveals the secrets of a kingdom that is much more complex than it appears to be—set to Mozart’s music, reworked by the one and only Éric Champagne. Humour, profound thoughts, brilliant musicians (members of the Orchestre de l’Agora under the direction of Nicolas Ellis) and, above all, courageous and genuine young people who are teaching me so much about my profession.

To learn more about Rose and this project, it's here!