Quebec Opera Festival: diving into the abyss

Even if he knows the role of Faust well, Thomas Bettinger still faces a new challenge with this work by Gounod at the heart of the 11th edition of the Festival d'Opéra de Québec.

Quebec Opera Festival: diving into the abyss

Even if he knows the role of Faust well, Thomas Bettinger still faces a new challenge with this work by Gounod at the heart of the 11th edition of the Festival d'Opéra de Québec.

The French tenor personified Faust in France in 2017 and 2018. Four years later, he finds this tormented man who decides to sell his soul to the devil.

“I haven’t played this role for several years. I have since approached other repertoires which have made my voice and my vocal gesture evolve", he indicated, referring to those of Andres (Wozzeck), the Duke of Mantua (Rigoletto), Don José (Carmen), Benjamin Franklin Fullerton (Madame Butterfly) and Alfredo Germont (La traviata), which he has played and sung ever since.

Thomas Bettinger's challenge is to regain his marks of 2018, while keeping those he has acquired.

"It's finding those where I was comfortable, without coming into conflict with what my voice has become. It’s a more technical voice management challenge,” he explained.

There are also other challenges associated with the role of Faust for the 37-year-old tenor, who will be performing for the very first time in North America.

"There are many of them, he said, adding that it was a demanding role with great and beautiful passages, a very expected air and which requires endurance", he said. find out during an interview.

Gripping and intense

On view July 29 and 31 and August 2 and 4 at the Grand Théâtre de Québec, in a modernized version, Faust tells the story of a man on the verge of ending his life who chooses to sell his soul to hell.

“He feels a huge sense of emptiness and failure. We imagine an old virgin man who, at the last moment, asks the devil to make him discover the pleasures of the flesh, and these pleasures will be a source of misfortune, ”he said.

Thomas Bettinger likes in Faust the evolution of the characters, the color of the music and a work that becomes larger and larger, darker and more intense.

“There are great dramatic passages in the theatrical sense. There is a search for catharsis by putting on both farce and drama. It’s extremely gripping and very intense,” he remarked.

Concert offered for free

After making his professional debut as Fiorello last summer in the Opéra de Québec's production of The Barber of Seville, baritone William Desbiens will step into the shoes of Private Wagner, whom he describes as a -by train.

“He is a leader, but a leader of the party. It’s the energy of the evening,” he said.

This time, compared to the Barber of Seville offered on webcast, there will be an audience in the room.

“It makes me happy to finally be able to be heard by people in the city where I grew up, and other than by video. Singing in front of an audience makes all the difference,” noted the young singer, who was one of the nine finalists in the 2022 edition of the Paris Opera’s Ciopera competition.

With soprano Geneviève Dompierre-Smith and pianist Jean-François Mailloux, William Desbiens is part of the Brigade lyrique, which will offer free, every lunchtime, throughout the Festival, famous opera arias.

“I look forward to working with Geneviève and bringing the opera to real life in places in Quebec and everywhere,” he said.

Baritone Dominic Veilleux, mezzo-soprano Rachèle Tremblay and Jean-François Mailloux will do the same with excerpts from operettas, at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m.

The list of places visited is online at festivaloperaquebec.com.

♦ The Merry Widow will launch, this Sunday evening, at La Bordée, the 11th edition of the Opera Festival. There will also be performances on Tuesday and Wednesday.

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