Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Incredibly Powerful Stuff - Harry Somers - Louis Riel

Bernard Turgeon sings the title role of Louis Riel in the CBC's 1969 televised production of the Canadian Opera Company's groundbreaking Canadian opera, Louis Riel. Following the premiere of Louis Riel, Harold Rosenthal, music critic of England's OPERA magazine, wrote, "Bernard Turgeon's performance ... was a tour de force. His is a long and demanding role ... deeply-felt singing and acting earned him a deserved personal triumph." 

Louis Riel was described in the Montreal Star as "...undoubtedly the most exciting original Canadian creation to be placed on a stage in Canada's history..." 

It's only one scene from the opera, Turgeon must have been incredible as Riel, who he resembles to a remarkable extent.  It must be one of the harder roles in the repertoire if this is any indication, going back and forth between French and English.   Reading the history of the so called Riel Rebellion, really a defense for the lives of the Metis and First Nations people in the Canadian West who were being sold out by the Canadian government to the rich and powerful - Canadian history has as much of that kind crime as most other countries, only their intellectual class stopped denying it to the extent ours still does. 

Harry Somers' range as a composer was certainly at least as broad as Aaron Copland's,  they have a lot in common in spite of their real dissimilarities.  

Bernard Turgeon's performance should be made available in full.  This is an opera which should be in the active repertoire.  

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