La Tourangelle

La Tourangelle. A musical tableau by István Anhalt, 'conceived to be a concert performance, but also a stylized stage performance' as indicated by the title-page of the score.

La Tourangelle

La Tourangelle. A musical tableau by István Anhalt, 'conceived to be a concert performance, but also a stylized stage performance' as indicated by the title-page of the score. The hour-long work was completed in 1975 and calls for three sopranos, a tenor, a bass, 16 instrumentalists and pre-recorded tapes. The title ('The Woman of Tours') refers to Marie Guyart, who after joining the Order of the Ursuline Sisters (adopting the name Marie de l'Incarnation, Mother) travelled to Canada in the early 1600s to become one of the founders of New France. The libretto, compiled by the composer, draws on many sources, including writings by the title character, by her spiritual leader Dom Saint Bernard, and by Dionysius Areopagiticus. In seven musical scenes Anhalt presents a musical biography of Marie de l'Incarnation including her birth in 1599; her marriage at 17 to Claude Martin; the birth of her son, Claude, in 1619 and her vision of Christ a year later; her struggle to devote her life to the Church and, as a consequence, abandon her son; and her mission to build the culture of New France and spread the spirit and dogma of the Church there.

Anhalt portrays Marie de L'Incarnation's life by three strains of musical activity: the voice of Marie is shared by a trio of three sopranos (in Anhalt's own words he considers her to be 'larger than life,' accordingly one voice would not suffice); a tenor and a baritone describe the events of the story; and the pretaped voices of two children's choirs - one in English, the other in French - together with individual speakers elaborate on and, along with synthetic electroacoustic sounds, illuminate the various aspects of the storyline. The musical language of La Tourangelle is predominantly dodecaphonic with an excursion into indeterminacy in the middle section, called Isaac, where the torment of Marie's questioning of her future paths comes to a dramatic climax. Together with Winthrop, La Tourangelle forms a diptych based on personalities prominent in transporting European cultural and religious attitudes to the North-American continent. La Tourangelle was commissioned by the CBC and was first performed 17 Jul 1975 at the MacMillan Theatre of the University of Toronto within the framework of the CBC Summer Festival. Marius Constant conducted the instrumental ensemble, with singers Mary Morrison, Roxolana Roslak, and Phyllis Mailing making up the trio representing Marie, and Albert Greer and Gary Relyea as commentators. This performance was recorded and included in ACM-22.