Société canadienne d'opérette Inc | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Société canadienne d'opérette Inc

Société canadienne d'opérette Inc. One of the first opera companies in Quebec, founded in Montreal by Honoré Vaillancourt and chartered 14 Jul 1921.

Société canadienne d'opérette Inc

Société canadienne d'opérette Inc. One of the first opera companies in Quebec, founded in Montreal by Honoré Vaillancourt and chartered 14 Jul 1921. Its aim was 'to develop the artistic abilities of the members and to instil in the public a liking for good wholesome music' and also 'to work for the establishment of a lyric theatre for and by Canadians.' The troupe was financed chiefly by its president, Rodolphe Monty, and by shareholders, who numbered about 200 by the end of the 1925-6 season.

As its inaugural presentation the society gave Offenbach's Les Brigands 16 Oct 1923 at the Monument national under the musical direction of Albert Roberval. There were nine productions 1923-4, including Carl Zeller's L'Oiseleur , Offenbach's La Chanson de Fortunio, Donizetti's La Fille du Régiment, and Strauss' The Gypsy Baron.

For 10 consecutive seasons (1923-33) the society offered the public a wide choice of operettas, comic operas, and operas, including Les Cloches de Corneville, La Fille de Madame Angot, Monsieur Beaucaire, Waltz Dream, Martha, Le Pré aux clercs, and The Barber of Seville, at the Monument national and His Majesty's Theatre in Montreal or at the Auditorium in Quebec City. In 1929 L'Intendant Bigot, a Canadian opera with music by J. Ulric Voyer, was presented in Montreal and Quebec.

At the end of the 1930-1 season, the society had given more than 300 performances and could look with pride on its company of 60 performers, 46 choristers, 26 musicians, and 23 administrators and technicians, a total of 155 persons divided into an opera section and a drama section.

Besides engaging some established singers, Vaillancourt also provided opportunities for a host of young performers, including Amanda Alarie, Fournier de Belleval, Camille Bernard, Louis Bourdon, Charles-Émile Brodeur, Lionel Daunais, Geneviève Davis-Lebel, Fabiola Hade, Émile Lamarre, Caro Lamoureux, Léonide Letourneux, Roméo Mousseau, Paul Trépanier, and Irène Trudeau. Other artists appearing in the casts were Fleurette Beauchamp, Louis Chartier, Marie-Rose Descarries, Élisa Gareau, Armand Gauthier, Conrad Gauthier, Blanche Gonthier, Charles Goulet, Arthur Lapierre, Hercule Lavoie, Ernest Loiselle, Fabiola Poirier, Gaston Saint-Jacques, Lucille Turner, and Paul Valade. The company also engaged such stars as José Delaquerrière, Jean Grimaldi, Raoul Jobin, Jeanne Maubourg, and Albert Roberval. Roberval and Vaillancourt shared the artistic directorship, and J.-J. and Jean Goulet and Sylva Alarie were among the conductors.

Shortly after its foundation, the society launched a popular subscription campaign, selling for a dollar the privilege of contributing a brick towards a proposed four-storey building at 3774 St-Denis St to house its administration and rehearsals. This building, still standing in 1990, was opened with a concert 3 Aug 1925. In 1931 a second subscription campaign was begun for the construction of a national theatre. The sudden death of Vaillancourt early in 1933 put an end to the project, and the company itself only survived sporadically for some time thereafter under the triumvirate of J.-A.-E. Cartier, Daunais, and Roberval. But the way had been paved for the Variétés lyriques, established in 1936.

Many of the society's vocal scores, orchestra parts, chorus parts, original librettos, translations, and programs are preserved in the Albert Duquesne Collection at the Montreal City Library.

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