The year 1983 marked a turning-point for the history of opera in Québec City. After the pioneering work of Le Théâtre lyrique de Nouvelle-France, l’Opéra du Québec and La Société lyrique d'Aubigny, both of which presented opera performances, La Fondation de l'Opéra de Québec was founded on Jaunary 7, 1983, leading to the creation of La Corporation de l'Opéra de Québec on November 16, 1983 with the mission of producing professional opera in Québec City.
The objective set by L'Opéra de Québec was to produce two major operas each season, drawing on the pool of talent already present in Québec City. The first production by the new company, Madame Butterfly, was presented in May 1985 and was warmly received, thanks in part to the magnificent performance by soprano Evelyne Brunner in the title role.
Well-wishers from around the world expressed their support for the new venture, including Luciano Pavarotti, Jessye Norman, Placido Domingo, Jon Vickers, Wilhelmenia Fernandez, Pierrette Alarie and Léopold Simoneau. On the opening night, L'Opéra de Québec innovated by presenting the libretto in the form of French surtitles, the first time this had been attempted not only in Québec, but in the French-speaking world.
From the beginning, L'Opéra de Québec has worked tirelessly to encourage and promote talent in Québec, and has given several singers from the greater Québec City area their first true opportunity to make their mark as professional singers, including Sonia Racine, Lyne Fortin, Hélène Fortin, Agathe Martel, Odette Beaupré, Monique Pagé, Louis Langelier, Jean-François Lapointe, Claude Robin-Pelletier and many others. These young singers also benefited from singing alongside more experienced colleagues from Québec and around the world, such as Colette Boky, Joseph Rouleau, Robert Savoie, Claude Corbeil, Gaétan Laperrière, Bernard Turgeon, Yves Cantin, Pierre Charbonneau, Theodore Baerg, Brett Polegato, Jean Stilwell, Peter Strummer, Maria d'Aragnès, John Cheek, Stephen Powell, Leslie Richard, Jianyi Zhang, Audrey Stottler, John Fanning, Richard Fredricks, Kevin Glavin, Joanne Kolomyjec, Brenda Harris, Russell Braun and others.
Several outstanding directors have also worked on productions at L'Opéra de Québec: Pierrette Alarie, Irving Guttman, Antonello Madau Diaz, Albert Millaire, Peter Symcox, Bernard Uzan, Brian MacDonald, Brian Deedrick, Serge Denoncourt, Jacques Leblanc, John Pascoe, Louise Marleau.
The arrival of Bernard Labadie and Grégoire Legendre at the start of the 1994-95 season was another turning point, as the new team initiated changes to broaden the repertoire and rejuvenate the staging, while remaining open-minded and respectful of established traditions. Bernard Labadie was the company's artistic and musical director before Grégoire Legendre took over as artistic director in addition to his duties as the general administrator.
With the coming of the new computer age, L'Opéra de Québec understood the need to take action to draw young people into the world of opera. It decided to make an educational contribution by organizing an unusual range of awareness-raising activities. First, it allowed secondary-school students to attend dress rehearsals, and since the spring of 1999 over 10,000 young people in the Québec City area have been able to attend their first opera. The second activity was a drawing contest called "Dessine-moi un opéra", (200 to 2004) an original approach in which elementary-school students were asked to design costumes and scenery for a specific production. This not only introduced them to the world of opera, but also allowed the contest winners to become part of the production team as their drawings were used as the basis for the costumes and scenery of a new production. Four contests were organized, for Mozart's The Magic Flute in June 2000, Humperdinck's Hänsel and Gretel in October 2001, Mozart's The Abduction from the Seraglio in March 2003 and Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’amore.
Grégoire Legendre, the company's general director since 1994, became the artistic director in July 2003.
He was the driving force behind the world première, in Québec, of Luc Plamondon and Michel Berger’s Starmania Opera in the spring of 2008. That same year, Robert Lepage staged a double Québec première of Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle and Schönberg’s Erwartung. And, in November 2009, during ceremonies in honour of excellence of Arts and Culture in the City of Québec, the Opéra de Québec was awarded the Ville de Québec Prize for having succeeded in bringing the Plácido Domingo World Opera Festival to Québec in 2008. This prize was created to acknowledge the effort and underscore the excellent work of a professional cultural organization.
PRODUCTIONS BY L'OPÉRA DE QUÉBEC
Norma / Carmen
La Fille du régiment / La Bohème
Les Noces de Figaro / Faust
Manon / Samson et Dalila
Rigoletto / Cavaleria Rusticana / I Pagliacci
Lucia di Lammermoor / Les Contes d’Hoffmann
La Flûte enchantée / Le Barbier de Séville / Tosca
L’Elisir d’amore / La Traviata
Les Pêcheurs de perles / Aïda
Mignon / La Belle Hélène / Nabucco
Cosi fan tutte / Carmen
Cendrillon / La Bohème
Faust / Les grandes voix du Québec / Les Noces de Figaro
Don Pasquale / Madama Butterfly
L’Italienne à Alger / La Traviata / Projet spécial La Flûte
Norma / Tosca
Hänsel et Gretel / Don Giovanni / Le Babier de Séville
La Veuve joyeuse /L’Enlèvement au sérail / Rigoletto
Turandot / Gala / L'Elisir d'amore / Manon
Un bal masqué / Gala / Les Contes d’Hoffmann
Madama Butterfly / Gala / Carmen
La Bohème / Gala / Roméo et Juliette
Otello / Gala / Starmania Opéra
Barble-Bleue et Erwartung / Le Gala / Cavalleria rusticana
et I Pagliacci
Aida / Le Gala / Lucia di Lammermoor
Lyne Fortin, aequo avec Hélène Fortin
Sophie Marie Martel
PRIX D'EXCELLENCE DES ARTS ET DE LA CULTURE
(awards for excellence in arts and culture)
PRIX DE LA FONDATION DE L'OPÉRA DE QUÉBEC
Prix de scène (for performers)
École de musique de l’Université
L’Atelier lyrique du Conservatoire
Prix hors scène (for non-performers)
Mario Dufour –
Festival de musique sacrée
Beginning in 20003, the Foundation presents a single award.
La Brigade lyrique
2005 (19th édition)
( 2011- The Brigade were young lyric singers talents:
Judith Bouchard, soprano;
Priscilla Ann Smith, mezzo;
Kevin Geddes, tenor;
Jonathan Bedard, baritone
and the two pianists:
Jean-Francois Mailloux and Anne-Marie Bernard )