Parlando: The COC Blog


Louis Riel: A First Look

A new production of this uniquely Canadian contribution to the opera world is being conceived by one of Canadian theatre’s most acclaimed and inventive directors, Peter Hinton, with the COC’s celebrated music director, Johannes Debus, conducting. This production of Louis Riel is presented by the COC and its co-producer, National Arts Centre (NAC), in anticipation of Canada’s sesquicentennial and the 50th anniversary of the opera’s premiere. Louis Riel is sung in English, French, Michif and Cree with English, French, Michif and Cree SURTITLESTM.

Telling the history of Louis Riel is ever more important in this period of Truth and Reconciliation. It is the COC’s intention that an inclusive and expansive history shall be restored with the 2017 production. Throughout the conceptualization of the 2017 production of Louis Riel and in preparation for the rehearsal period, Hinton and his creative team have followed the guidance and wisdom of members of the Indigenous community.

“What struck me from the very beginning about this piece is the motivation for its creation. It is a contentious and provocative ‘celebratory’ work,” says Louis Riel director Peter Hinton. “When composer Harry Somers and librettist Mavor Moore were commissioned in 1966 by the Floyd S. Chalmers Foundation to write an opera to commemorate the centennial of Canada, Somers and Moore chose the subject of Louis Riel. Their choice to show Canada’s history of struggle and representation in the west, against colonialist and centralist objectives, is not only a metaphor for the conflicts which forged the idea of confederation, but also serves as a challenge for present and future understandings of our country.”

“We asked Peter Hinton to direct this production of Louis Riel because of his long-standing relationship and involvement with Indigenous artists and his knowledge and experience in mounting a theatrical project of this scale,” says COC General Director Alexander Neef.  “His involvement brings an informed and culturally sensitive approach to the interpretation of Louis Riel that we are sharing on the stage.” 

In 1967, Louis Riel was the first opera written by a Canadian to be presented by the COC, and the COC is the only professional opera company to date to have ever performed it. For more information and to purchase tickets, please click here.

Photo credit: Peter Hinton, photo by David Cooper

Posted by Tanner Davies / in Louis Riel / comments (0) / permalink

Sara Fulgoni in the COC production of Bluebeard's Castle. Photo: Michael Cooper © 2001



Subscribe to the COC e-mail newsletter.
Contact Tanner
Have a question? Want to share a link? Submit a comment!