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York University
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Glendon Translation Student has Lead Part in World Première of Canadian Opera


Tenor James McLennan (right), a student in Glendon’s School of Translation, sings the role of Antoine Tassy in the final production of Opera in Concert’s (OIC) current, 35th season: the world première of Kamouraska by composer Charles Wilson.

Taken from the classic French-Canadian novel by Canadian author Anne Hébert, it is a story of horror and imagination, based on a real 19th-century love triangle in rural Quebec. Wilson’s opera paints a terrifying tableau of the life of Elizabeth d’Aulnières, her marriage to the abusive Antoine Tassy – squire of Kamouraska, his violent murder and her passion for George Nelson, an American doctor. Wilson’s music unleashes powerful emotions and great dramatic moments.

Wilson composed Kamouraska during1974 -1975 on a Canada Council Fellowship. The work lay dormant for a number of years until OIC came across the vocal score at the Canadian Music Centre while researching another of Wilson’s scores, The Summoning of Everyman presented by OIC in 2004. Kamouraska has been completely revised by the composer for this current production.

Left: Anne Hébert

“Performed in an English translation, Kamouraska’s libretto is derived from one of Quebec's most famous and widely-studied novels”, says McLennan. “It is a thrilling, unique opportunity to be part of this ground-breaking production of a work which deserves to be revived.”

McLennan juggles a thriving career as an opera singer with part-time translation studies at Glendon, which are now nearing completion. He considers his Glendon education an ideal complement to his singing career, enabling him to perfect his French skills – needed for many operatic parts - and broadening his liberal arts base. “It is also a useful skill for part-time work between musical opportunities,” he adds.

Kamouraska has a particular appeal for anyone interested in music and Canadian literature, and an excellent fit with Glendon’s mandate of a wide-ranging bilingual liberal arts education”, says McLennan.

Kamouraska has two performances on Saturday, March. 28 at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, March 29 at 2:30 p.m. at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts. A free pre-concert chat is offered with host Iain Scott, joined on stage by composer Charles Wilson at 7: 15 p.m. on Saturday, March 28 and 1:45 p.m. on Sunday, March 29, 2009.

Tickets are available from the Box Office, in person or by phone, 416-366-7723 or 1-800-708-6754; or online at The theatre is wheelchair accessible and close to public transit and municipal parking.

Submitted by Glendon communications officer Marika Kemeny

Published on March 20, 2009