120 Songs for the Marquis De Sade: Michael Douglas Jones (the Marquis) and Christine Duncan (the Countess) in the Modern Baroque Opera/Vancouver New Music Production. (Vancouver)

Article excerpt

One of the more intriguing musical events for this season was a new opera, 120 Songs for the Marquis de Sade, a co-production of the Modern Baroque Opera and Vancouver New Music and generously subsidized by Alcan. Vancouver composer Peter Hannan's first opera, The Gang, premiered in Vancouver in 1997 and was remounted in Toronto in 1999. The current work was considerably more ambitious, if only in its length of four hours with just a single intermission. Peter Hinton's libretto is essentially linear, chronicling de Sade's life from the ancien regime through the Revolution and down to his final days in the madhouse of Charenton in 1814. And while not neglecting de Sade's iconoclastic ideas, the essential concentration--and an interesting one--is on the Marquis' family life, in particular his wife, Pelagie (the ever-engaging Phoebe MacRae), and her mother (Karin Konoval, bringing the edgy energy of a stage musical singer to her role). De Sade himself--performed with aplomb by Michael Douglas Jones--would seem, on first acquaintance (and all of the words, in English and French, were not always clear), to be rather unvarying in his personal preoccupations. …


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