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Kent Nagano conducts the premiere of L’Aiglon: son of Napoleon

The OSM, director Daniel Roussel and Music Director Kent Nagano bring L’Aiglon, a rare and unknown piece from Arthur Honegger and Jacques Ibert on stage.

The premiere will take place on 17 March 2015 in La maison symphonique in Montréal. Further performances are on 19 and on 21 March 2015.

Anne-Catherine Gillet (soprano) will sing the part of L’Aiglon, Marc Barrard (baritone) is Flambeau and Étienne Dupuis (baritone) stars at Metternich.

This live performance will be recorded and released by Decca, the label under which the Orchestra recorded close to 80 albums from the beginning of the 1980s to the early 2000s.

“We are delighted to announce that L’Aiglon by Ibert and Honegger, which we will perform in its North American premiere with an impressive cast including great Francophone singers, would constitute an anticipated recording project with Decca. L’Aiglon has only ever been recorded once, in the 1950s with the technology available at the time. We thought it was important to create a modern recording to serve our public in the context of the 21st century. There is no doubt that the publication of this work in a recording with Decca would be an international event. It is an indicator of the importance of this project,” stated Kent Nagano, Music Director of the OSM.

Information on L’Aiglon:

(http://www.osm.ca/en/concert/laiglon-son-napoleon)

The Work

L’Aiglon is a very unique opera in its genre. It is the result of a collaboration between two important 20th century French composers: Arthur Honegger and Jacques Ibert, who each wrote different parts (acts II, III and IV by Honegger, and acts I and V by Ibert). The libretto for this “four-hand opera” is an abridged version of the play L’Aiglon by Edmond Rostand (Cyrano de Bergerac). The profoundly political subject matter resonates strangely for an opera written in 1937, four years after Hitler came to power and two years before the outbreak of the Second World War.

L’Aiglon is a story of empire and conquest; it is also the story of an unrealised dream, that of Napoleon’s son, who hopes in vain to carry on his father’s torch. Since the abdication of Napoleon, the one the French called l’Aiglon (the Eaglet) has been living at the Viennese court with his mother, the Archduchess Marie-Louise of Austria. Despite his Austrian title, Duke of Reichstadt, he continues to dream of France, a homeland he barely knew. He becomes seduced by a conspiracy that would see him regain the throne; but the plot fails and the Eaglet – wings broken – dies, having never realised his destiny.

The play which inspired the opera was performed for the first time at the Théâtre Sarah-Bernhardt in Paris in March 1900; the title role was performed by the great tragédienne Sarah Bernhardt.

Evening of the North American Premiere

At the entrance of the Maison symphonique on the evening of the premiere, the audience will be welcomed on a purple carpet by twenty actors recreating Napoleon’s Imperial Guard. In the Foyer Allegro, period characters will mingle with the spectators.

Quartier des spectacles

From Friday, March 6 to Saturday, March 21 (from approximately 7:30 pm to 11 pm) at the Quartier des spectacles, an artist will paint two large works on canvas; this creative undertaking will be filmed and projected on the buildings of the Université du Québec à Montréal, on Président Kennedy Street, and Théâtre Maisonneuve. Spectators will feel they are witnessing the painting of the buildings themselves in this artistic process inspired by the musical and historical world of Honegger and Ibert’s opera.