Women from Quebec’s artistic and business communities have joined forces to stage Michel Tremblay’s classic play Albertine en cinq temps as an opera. 

Albertine en cinq temps tells the tale of Albertine, a 70-year-old woman remembering different stages of her life from her room at a nursing home. At 30, Albertine already understood that the world would never be large enough to contain her rage.

The play, written in 1983, is a powerful homage to women’s resilience that has been presented the world over. Now, 38 years later, it has lost none of its power and truth. This opera adaptation, sponsored by Scotiabank, offers an amazing opportunity to discover (or rediscover) this Quebec culture classic.

Albertine en cinq temps – L’opéra is an homage to women, inclusion and diversity, and the process of making this production brought together women leaders in opera, business and other sectors.

The project arose out of the pandemic, inspired by the women — sisters, mothers, friends — who had to juggle remote work and family life, and also by all the women who work for inclusiveness every day. 

The project is led by an inspirational group of women, including Nathalie Deschamps, Catherine Major and Catherine St-Arnaud.

Deschamps, artistic director of Productions du 10 avril, got the ball rolling on the opera adaptation. She is well known in the opera world and has directed more than 65 productions for a wide range of organizations, including the Opéra de Montréal, Augusta Opera and the Orford Music Festival. 

“In this period of global crisis, I felt an urgent need to give women a voice; Albertine en cinq temps appeared to be the best way to create a new popular opera, as Michel Tremblay’s play celebrates women at all stages of life,” says Deschamps. 

Internationally renowned author, composer and performer Catherine Major, a versatile artist, hotelier and mother of four, set Tremblay’s words and story to music with a deft creative and emotive hand.

Soprano Catherine St-Arnaud, known for her vibrant performances, portrays Albertine at 30. St-Arnaud has been hailed as one of the most promising young Canadian opera singers. She shines as Albertine, rising to the additional challenge of singing in joual, a sort of slangy, informal French spoken in Quebec. She also serves as the production’s project coordinator, contributing entrepreneurial skill as well as artistry. 

The opera’s multigenerational cast is a unique and remarkable showcase of vocal talent: Chantal Lambert, Monique Pagé, Chantal Dionne, Michèle Losier and Marianne Lambert.

As well, there is ateam of female designers involved, making for a remarkable synergy between cultural entrepreneurship and business. Debbie Zakaib, Executive Director, mmode, The Metropolitan Fashion Cluster, Ana Marinescu, Manager, The Scotiabank Women Initiative, and Nancy German, President, Primacom, volunteered to lend their expertise to help make this opera project a reality as members of the organizing committee.

Part of the cultural reopening

 “Albertine en cinq temps is a way to celebrate Quebec culture and showcase women’s economic resilience over the last several decades,” says Maria Mangiocavallo, Vice President, Commercial Banking, Quebec Region, Scotiabank.  

“The Scotiabank Women Initiative is working to create an inclusive economy in which women-run businesses can play a major role,” she adds. “That’s why we’re proud to be associated with this fantastic project, and to do our part to help the arts emerge from lockdown, which is a significant part of the overall economic recovery.”

Scotiabank is a proud supporter of this women’s collective and its project to sing new life into this classic work of Quebec theatre.

The Bank contributed $30,000 to the project through the The Scotiabank Women Initiative™, which helps women business owners and leaders by providing access to capital, mentorship and education. The Scotiabank Women Initiative is the presenting partner of Albertine en cinq temps – L’opéra. 

The Scotiabank Women Initiative will also offer free performances of Albertine en cinq temps – L’opéra to groups that support women of diverse backgrounds, in order to help make the opera accessible to all.

The world premiere of Albertine en cinq temps – L’opéra will take place Aug. 19 to 23, and will be broadcast online from the Théâtre du Rideau Vert in Montréal. Presented by the Scotiabank Women Initiative, the show will have a full production in 2022–2023.

Members of the public can also donate to the project in addition to purchasing tickets through the platform at lepointdevente.com/billets/vitrinealbertine.

Click here for more information on Albertine en cinq temps – L’opéra.