All great art has the ability to move people collectively, to create within it some essential, participatory expression of their humanity, their culture, their heritage. But who creates this art?
What is it that gives some individuals the power or the gift to create such works? Who are these works written for? Does the composer have a particular muse, or are they inspired by an abstraction, a composite muse? Who owns this great art? Is it illegitimate for either the author, the muse, or the people to claim it as their own? Do they all have a moral right to its power, its imagination, its authenticity?
Can great artists be forced to create utilitarian works specifically designed for some great or even banal purpose, to forge a nation or to pay one’s creditors, or does such an exercise always and necessarily create an empty shell?
Can a lover of Verdi ever, in any sense, become Verdi? If so, what happens to the person they left behind, no matter how briefly? Who is the ?real? Verdi? Can he ever be found, and loved, by anyone?
Normand Chaurette addresses all of these questions in his farce on the most ritualized, contrived and yet the most powerful of all art forms: the opera. But his answers remain as ineffable as the questions that seek them. In the end, who we are?composer, performer, or audience?is a collaboration of our illusions on a stage from which we remain forever absent.
Cast of 1 woman and 4 men.
Normand Chaurette was born in Montreal in 1954. His published plays include Rêve d’une nuit d’hôpital; Provincetown Playhouse, juillet 1919, j’avais 19 ans; Fêtes d’autome; La Société de Métis; and The Queens (Talonbooks, 1998). Fragments of a Farewell Letter Read by Geologists (Talonbooks, 1998) was nominated for a Governor General’s Award in 1987 and won the Prix de l’Association québécoise des critiques de théâtre for Best Play Produced in 1988. His novel, Scènes d’enfants, was nominated for a 1989 Governor General’s Award. His most recent play, available from Talonbooks, is All the Verdis of Venice (2000).
Linda Gaboriau is an award-winning literary translator based in Montreal. Her translations of plays by Quebec’s most prominent playwrights have been published and produced across Canada and abroad. In her work as a literary manager and dramaturge, she has directed numerous translation residencies and international exchange projects. She was the founding director of the Banff International Literary Translation Centre. Most recently she won the 2010 Governor General’s Award for Forests, her translation of the play by Wajdi Mouawad.