Festival de Lanaudière 2023
Philippe Couture – 37e AVENUE - June 13, 2024

Festival de Lanaudière: Opera, Cinema, and Major Names

In July, let’s motor down Highway 40 to Joliette, where the Festival de Lanaudière will be celebrating classical music in an enchanting setting—and with a view to reinvention—at the Fernand Lindsay Amphitheatre (operated by Place des Arts), as well as in local churches, and at a few other magnificent sites in town.


Among the many names on the program, the public will be delighted to find some Festival favourites, like Les Violons du Roy, Jonathan Cohen, Bernard Labadie, and Marc-André Hamelin. After a long absence, Bernard Labadie is returning to conduct a concert dedicated to Mozart, entitled A Mozart Celebration! The Orchestre symphonique de Montréal’s flamboyant conductor, Rafael Payare, is on the bill with two big events, an evening dedicated to Zarathustra, by Strauss, and another to works by Tchaikovsky and Rimski-Korsakov. The Festival de Lanaudière’s program is also peppered with dance: Les Grands Ballets Canadiens will be in Joliette with a choreographed performance inspired by Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.


Spectacular Operatic Works


A centrepiece of the summer will without a doubt be the presentation of Aida, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, leading the Orchestre Métropolitain and a high calibre cast. Beyond its epic and tragic story, Verdi’s work also resonates all too well with contemporary conflicts, offering a profound reflection on the horrors of war. “We cannot fail to understand this against a backdrop of brutal conflicts that continue to devastate the Middle East and parts of Eastern Europe, as well as many catastrophes less visible to us, amid which people of the world suffer acute violence,” writes Renaud Loranger, the Festival’s Artistic Director, in his introductory note in the program brochure. You can bet that Verdi will offer us much to consider about how we look at our world.


Not satisfied with simply presenting one magnificent operatic event, the Festival de Lanaudière is offering a second, in a hybrid concert format featuring Les Arts Florissants musical ensemble, the singers of Le Jardin des Voix, and a group of dancers from the Käfig dance company, under the direction of choreographer Mourad Merzouki. This dream team will be working its magic to bring us Purcell’s The Fairy Queen.


An Interstellar Opening Concert


The opening concert, led by Nicolas Ellis with the Orchestre de l’Agora, takes us on an out-of-this-world journey with Holst’s spectacular The Planets. This cosmic work questions humanity’s place in the universe and opens a series of concerts exploring profound philosophical and ethical themes. In an interesting approach, aerospace engineer Farah Alibay will be involved in the performance, working with the conductor to create a unique concert, something between a science lecture and biographical account, rooted in the music, with evocative imagery on a giant screen.


Major International Names


Among the international artists performing at this edition are Matthias Goerne, Anne Sofie von Otter, and the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra—all three of whom are making rare American appearances. The prestigious German ensemble will explore the music of Bach and his iconic Brandenburg Concertos, as well as some of Antonio Vivaldi’s most legendary works. The Orchestra’s last performance in Quebec was 10 years ago!


Quatuor Diotima and pianist Yoav Levanon will be making their Canadian debuts here, promising unforgettable performances.


Intimate Concerts and Immersive Experiences


You quietly make your way into the Church of Saint-Ambroise-de-Kildare. Your eyes scan the vast, sublimely ornate space. Something sacred and powerful is happening here, even before the singers’ voices begin to make themselves heard. The Festival de Lanaudière is distinguished by its in-church concerts, offering intimate recitals in historic spaces. These performances allow for exceptional encounters with world renowned artists in a unique and contemplative atmosphere.


This summer at Saint-Ambroise-de-Kildare, we will hear sacred works by Henry Purcell, John Blow, and William Croft, performed by Les Arts Florissants, led by William Christie. At the Church of Sainte-Mélanie, a few kilometres away, some wonderful musicians on Quebec’s orchestral scene—including Marianne Dugal (violin), Julien Siino (cello), and Antonin Cuerrier (clarinet)—will be coming together for the first time to perform works by Beethoven and Schubert in a concert entitled An Evening in Vienna.


On the Silver Screen


Films in which music is a key element! This is exactly what the Festival de Lanaudière’s all-new program of screenings has in store—a first! Completely free of charge, the program is family-friendly and features such films as Neneh superstar, The Little Mermaid, The Color Purple, and Wonka (screenings are in French).


How many events can you name that combine in-the-flesh performances by major international orchestras with a virtual (on-screen) appearance by audience favourite Timothée Chalamet? Not many, that’s for sure! It’s a date, from July 6 to August 4 in Joliette.

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