Glendon translation student perfoms lead in Opera in Concert production

Tenor James McLennan, a student in Glendon’s School of Translation, will sing the role of Antoine Tassy in Opera in Concert’s (OIC) final production for the 2008-2009 season – the world premiere of Kamouraska, by composer Charles Wilson, this Saturday and Sunday.

Adapted from Governor General’s Literary Award-winning author Anne Hébert’s French-Canadian novel of the same name, Kamouraska is a story of horror and imagination based on a real 19th-century love triangle in rural Quebec. 

Right: James McLennan

“Performed in an English translation, Kamouraska’s libretto is derived from one of Quebec’s most famous and widely studied novels,” says McLennan. “It is a thrilling, unique opportunity to be part of this groundbreaking production of a work which deserves to be revived.”

Wilson’s opera paints a terrifying tableau of the life of Elisabeth d’Aulnières, her marriage to the abusive Antoine Tassy – squire of Kamouraska – his violent murder and her passion for George Nelson, an American doctor. Wilson’s music unleashes powerful emotions and great dramatic moments. 

He composed Kamouraska from 1974 to 1975 on a Canada Council for the Arts Fellowship. The work lay dormant for a number of years until OIC came across the vocal score at the Canadian Music Centre while researching another of Wilson’s scores, The Summoning of Everyman, presented by OIC in 2004. Kamouraska has been completely revised by the composer for this current production.

Left: Anne Hébert

McLennan juggles a thriving career as an opera singer with part-time translation studies at Glendon, which are now nearing completion. He considers his Glendon education an ideal complement to his singing career, enabling him to perfect his French skills – needed for many operatic parts – and broaden his liberal arts base. “It is also a useful skill for part-time work between musical opportunities,” he adds.

Kamouraska has a particular appeal for anyone interested in music and Canadian literature, and is an excellent fit with Glendon’s mandate of a wide-ranging bilingual liberal arts education,” says McLennan.

Kamouraska will run Saturday, March 28 at 8pm and Sunday, March 29 at 2:30pm at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts. A free pre-concert chat is offered with host Iain Scott joined on stage by composer Charles Wilson at 7:15pm before the Saturday performance and at 1:45pm before the Sunday performance.

Tickets are available from the Box Office online, in person or by phone, 416-366-7723 or 1-800-708-6754. The theatre is wheelchair accessible and close to public transit and municipal parking.

Submitted to YFile by Glendon communications officer Marika Kemeny