Read the Review
Filmed partially in Toronto, Norman Jewison’s amazing 1987 film Moonstruck deals with what once was (still is?) the truism that opera is, in fact, not the sole province of the well-heeled elites who frequent the Metropolitan Opera and Lincoln Center, but a big-tent-accepting musical genre whose aficionados can include Brooklyn bookkeepers (Cher) and one-handed bakers (Nicolas Cage). In other words, there is a folk quality to opera’s history and appeal that, despite its more recent classification as European classical music, blurs hierarchical boundaries of class, status and earning potential.
How nice, then, it is to encounter a uniquely Canadian, and specifically Québécois opera that beautifully and sonically charts the life of the decidedly regular, but no less intriguing, Albertine, as she reflects back on her life cycle through five decades from her present perch in a retirement home. With each decade represented by a unique female voice – Chantal Lambert (age 70), Monique Pagé (age 60), Chantal Dionne (age 50), Florence Bourget (age 40) and Catherine St-Arnaud (age 30) – Albertine’s life in reflection (best listened to in a single session, of course) demonstrates both the banalities and unique challenges that we all endure in this captivating musical realization of National Order of Quebec recipient Michel Tremblay’s play of the same name. In addition to the acknowledgment given to the fine aforementioned singers, the accompanying all-female instrumentalists, musical score by Catherine Major, and libretto by Collectif de la lune rouge all factor significantly in making this recording a fine 2022 addition to our expanding canon of meaningful and vital Canadian original music.