The fruit of a collaboration between the Canada Research Chair in Opera Creation and the Canada Research Chair in Music and Politics, this panel brings together singers, musicologists and composer Ana Sokolović to reflect on the often-misogynistic representation of women in opera and propose solutions to overcome it.
This panel will be divided into three sections, followed by a discussion with the audience, moderated by musicologist Vanessa Blais-Tremblay. The first section focuses on the problematic characterization of two 19th-century opera heroines, Gilda, from Giuseppe Verdi's Rigoletto (1851) (presented by soprano Marianne Bertrand), and Lakmé, from Léo Delibes' opera of the same name (1883) (presented by soprano Agathe Tremblay). In the second section, musicologist Laura Kubler proposes a new staging of the aria "Batti, batti", from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Don Giovanni (1787), to present her as a strong female character rather than a passive victim. This new interpretation will be illustrated by a performance from singers Marianne Bertrand and Caroline Godebert, accompanied by pianist Monica Han. The final section of this panel looks at representations of women in 21st-century opera. Musicologist Zoey Cochran analyzes George Benjamin's Written on Skin (2012), whose portrayal of Agnes seems part of the long misogynistic tradition of operatic heroines who die as a result of discovering their sexuality, while Ana Sokolović explores why her opera Svadba-Wedding (2011) has often been interpreted as feminist, becoming an operatic emblem of femininity.
Vanessa Blais-Tremblay is Professor of Musicology in the Department of Music at UQAM, a co-researcher with the Centre de recherche interuniversitaire sur la littérature et la culture québécoises (CRILCQ) and the Réseau québécois en études féministes (RéQEF), and a regular member of the Institut de recherche en études féministes (IREF-UQAM). She is also scientific director of the DIG! network Différences et inégalités de genre dans la musique au Québec and co-editor-in-chief of the journal Women and Music: A Journal of Gender and Culture. Her article on feminist musicology partnerships will shortly appear in the journal Intersections, and her "Bibliographie sur les genres, les sexualités et autres pratiques non dominantes en musique au Québec" (Bibliography on gender, sexuality and other non-dominant practices in Quebec music), which includes over 800 scientific resources on this theme, will appear this winter in the Nouveaux Cahiers de la recherche du CRILCQ alongside the associated literature review "La ''femme-eux-ze'' musique québécoise: la recherche sur les femmes et les personnes de la diversité sexuelle et de genre en musique au Québec (1874-2022)".
Ana Sokolović is a composer, professor of composition at the Université de Montréal and holder of the Canada Research Chair in Opera Creation. Her music is distinguished by its rhythmic Balkan folk universe, colored by playful images and inspired by different artistic disciplines. Her vast repertoire is regularly performed by prestigious Canadian and international orchestras, ensembles and soloists. She is particularly renowned for her operatic works, as evidenced by her fourth-place ranking among the world's most performed opera composers (source Operabase). This success is reflected in her opera Svadba, which "seems to invent a universal phonetic of the human heart" (Le Monde).
Zoey Cochran is a doctoral candidate in musicology at McGill University, a lecturer at the Université de Montréal and Italian lyric diction coach at the Atelier lyrique de l'Opéra de Montréal. She is also Associate Research Director of the Canada Research Chair in Opera Creation. Supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) at both master's and doctoral levels, she studies the political role of Italian Baroque opera, focusing on the repercussions of foreign domination (first Spanish, then Austrian) on the history of opera. She has presented her work on opera in Naples and Venice at numerous international conferences, including the AMS annual conference.
A master's student at the Conservatoire de Musique de Montréal in classical singing, Marianne Bertrand completed her Bachelor's degree at the Université de Montréal in 2022, in Adrienne Savoie's class. Passionate about the performing arts from an early age, she has distinguished herself in numerous student productions, whether in orchestra, theater or opera. Her studies at the Université de Montréal also led her to discover an interest in foreign languages, as well as in raising awareness of the role of women in opera.
Agathe Tremblay is a bachelor's student in classical vocal performance at the Université de Montréal. She is interested in poetry and the possibilities of the voice. She is particularly interested in the problems that opera librettos can raise. She remains hopeful that this art form can be modernized and democratized. She has also studied sociology and philosophy and worked in translation. She has a passion for learning different languages and has traveled extensively, driven by her great curiosity.
Laura Kubler holds a Bachelor's degree in classical music and musicology from the Université Jean Jaurès II in Toulouse (France), and has just completed a Master's degree in musicology under the supervision of Marie-Hélène Benoit-Otis. Her dissertation project focuses on the updating of opera stagings through a feminist prism. After an exchange year at Berlin's Humboldt Universität in 2017-2018, she came to study in Quebec in 2019. From November 2019 to February 2020, she benefited from an observation internship with director Alain Gauthier on the production of La Vie Parisienne at the Université de Montréal opera workshop, as well as on Written On Skin at the Opéra de Montréal.
Born in France, soprano Caroline Godebert perfected her vocal technique at the Université de Montréal, studying with Rosemarie Landry and Richard Margison. Performing in opera productions since the age of 13, she has embodied, among others, Idamante (Idomeneo), the Baroness and Gabrielle (La Vie Parisienne). In 2022, she is mounting her first show, Voilà, la vie parisienne, which will be performed in Montreal and McMasterville. Recently, she was invited to open the cultural season of the town of Noisy-le-Grand (France) with the recital Le Monde de Debussy, and to sing as soloist with the Montreal Polyphonic Choir. In May 2023, she will sing in Gabo Champagne's opera Naissances.
A recent Ph.D. graduate from the Université de Montréal, Monica Han has consistently won acclaim as a soloist in shows, festivals and competitions around the world. She won the Grand Prize at the British Columbia Provincial Competition in 2009, and silver medals at the Canadian National Competition in 2014 and 2015. While studying in New York, she received honorable mention at the International Union City Philharmonic Competition in New Jersey and the Bradshaw and Buono International Competition in New York. After finding her passion in accompaniment, Dr. Monica Han played for dancers, singers and instrumentalists. She currently works as an accompanist at Les Grands Ballets Canadiens Studios and teaches piano and music theory at her studio in Montreal.
Hubert Paré is a French-Canadian baritone born in Montreal. He studied with soprano Marie-Danielle Parent for two years at Cégep de Vincent-d'Indy, and is currently studying with American bass Matthew Treviño at McGill University. He won 3rd prize in the 2020 Vincent-d'Indy CEGEP Expression Competition. In 2022, he won second prize in the Sorel competition, singing category - 23 years and under. Since 2017, he has participated multiple times in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean music camp vocal workshop. In March 2022, he made his operatic debut as Masetto in McGill University's production of Mozart's Don Giovanni.