A transformed bat | The Montreal Journal

A 19th century work catapulted in 1967, the heterogeneous presence of Batman, Mr. Spock, the Flying Sister and several characters from popular culture, the Opéra de Québec offers a revamped Bat that is explosive and very entertaining.

This work by Johann Strauss II, created in Vienna in 1874, ends the 2023-2024 season of the Opéra de Québec. Unveiled on Saturday at the Salle Louis-Fréchette of the Grand Théâtre de Québec, La Chauve-Souris is on view Tuesday and Thursday in the evening and Saturday with an afternoon performance.

After Don Giovanni in 2022, Bertrand Alain signs a second production for the Opéra de Québec. The actor from Quebec chose to completely dust off this classic work by transposing it into the 20th century and more precisely in 1967 during the Universal Expo.

A courageous choice on his part. Classic operas teleported into the contemporary universe often make purists shudder. Bertrand Alain’s proposal holds up, despite a few moments of histrionics, where things might slip up.

The director not only made the Bat travel through time, he modified segments of the libretto and inserted, here and there, Quebec references.

The Bat is a very simple story with the usual misunderstandings. It is the story of Dr Falke, the victim of a joke by his friend Gabriel von Eisenstein, who made him wander the streets of Vienna disguised as a bat, who decides to take revenge.

He invites his seductive friend, who is enjoying one last night before a stay in prison, to a ball where he will fall into the trap of unknowingly courting his disguised wife Rosaline.

A very successful entry

The tone is set in the opening when we see Eisenstein, drunk, in a Batman costume, on a park bench. A huge nod, which won’t be the only one, to the TV series popularized in the 60s. With the famous characters and everything that entails. It’s impossible not to burst out laughing or have a big smile at this moment. A lovely, fun and very successful entry.

The end of the second act, which takes place during a costume ball, is the highlight of this entirely Quebec production. A moment which gave rise to a superb artistic communion between the soloists, the Chorus of the Opéra de Québec and the musicians of the Orchester symphonique de Québec, under the direction of Nicolas Ellis.

Strauss’s signature waltzes echoed through the room. Just like the voices of the soloists and other singers, which, it should be noted, were never buried by the power of the orchestra. The cohesion was total. A delicious moment.

The young chef even played the game by becoming, for a few moments, a well-known character in popular culture.

It is during this ball, very colorful and crazy, that a range of characters arrive on stage that we have fun identifying. A great challenge.

Emmanuel Burriel

At the start of the third act, returning from the intermission, when the prison guard Frosch comes to address the audience, breaking the fourth wall, we were afraid that things would get out of hand. It was a lot of action and we had the impression of being teleported into the first minutes of a comedy show.

The numerous segments of dialogue, which, like the sung portions and for purposes of understanding, would have benefited from being subtitled, open the door to an emphasis on the comedy side. Sometimes we walked on a tightrope.

A huge slap in the face for the chef

Soprano Catherine St-Arnaud is one of the stars of this production. Vocally and also through her acting. She has quite a presence on stage in the role of the maid Adèle.

Yves Leclerc

Soprano Jessica Latouche, who slips into the skin of Rosaline, Eisenstein’s spouse, will have her best moments in the second act and during the final segment in a three-person singing number with tenors Éric Laporte and Dominique Côté.

Laporte, who plays the character of Alfred, Rosaline’s secret lover, brings several amusing moments. It quickly became, and rightly so, a public favorite.

The public also gave a huge slap to conductor Nicolas Ellis who did a remarkable job at the helm of the OSQ which sounded incredibly good.

A transformed bat

Emmanuel Burriel

Operas are often dramatic and punctuated with suffering and painful mortalities. With its Bat, the Quebec Opera offers joy, lightness and the beautiful musicality of Strauss. A huge tablet of pleasure.

Bertrand Alain’s idea of ​​taking this work back almost 100 years was not that crazy. The exercise can be perilous, but it suited this operetta very well. There were many smiles on people’s faces at the end of this May evening.



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