Quebec, Quebec, so good they named it twice.

Parliament building tonight
It's not often I can say I have one over on those people who go to the Metropolitan Opera in New York. But today I have. I saw Robert Lepage's The Tempest before them. The co-production with the Met moves to New York in the Fall but first it is being premiered here in Quebec City.

 "Typical Robert Lepage", said my neighbour in the theatre, describing last year's opera. "Totally over the top." Well, I happen to like over the top. That's what I got last night. Possibly the most dramatic opening five minutes I've ever seen on a stage, I spent a considerable amount of time with my jaw on the floor.
My opera tools

I'm here in the city for the second Quebec Opera Festival. They are on a winner with Robert Lepage on board. He is not just the darling of the Met but a national institution here and rightly so. His staging of operas seems to push everyone to their limits. I wonder about the reactions when the singers find out they will be hanging from ropes, swinging from chandeliers or crawling under the stage while singing in order to realise Lepage's vision. I guess they just say yes, it is Robert Lepage after all.

Chateau Frontenac glistens in the heat

If you like opera it is a great basis to explore a city if you can get to a festival. I've written about Glimmerglass in New York State. (I'm going back this year). One of the delights of a summer festival is there are all sorts of outdoor concerts and extra musical events as well as the big performances in the evening. Today I attended a free outdoor concert in about 38C. Shade was at a premium (I've never seen so many umbrellas since leaving England) but the performers at Maison Hamel-Bruneau got a good reception.
Outdoor concert today
There are four days left as I write including a wonderful looking event, Opera at the Agora on August 5th with Marc Hervieux, Marie-Josée Lord and Etienne Dupuis.
Performers lucky to be in the shade
Last night I was lucky enough to be invited backstage after The Tempest. I stupidly feel nervous about these events. Is it a cliche to say you were wonderful, darling even though you thought they were? It was great to meet baritone Rod Gilfry (Prospero) and tenor Frédéric Antoun (Caliban). But if you're going to meet a world famous composer you should probably behave better than I did. Thomas Adès has a very firm handshake. So firm that it squeezed my ring into my fingers with such ferocity that I screamed out in pain and yelled "Don't do that!" What I really meant to say was your opera was wonderful, darling.

Bonjour Quebec and Quebec City for more information.
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