It was to be a grand spectacle to pay tribute to a unique and legendary artist. Despite great resources Symphonic Riopelle Unfortunately, Thursday offered us some magical moments at its grand premiere as part of Montréal en Lumière.
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The spirit of Jean Paul Riopelle hovers throughout this show conceived by Nicolas Lemieux, directed by Marcella Grimaux and featuring seven compositions by Serge Fiori rearranged by Blair Thompson.
When such big names gather to pay tribute to the great Jean Paul Riopelle as part of his centenary, we had every right to expect to be amazed at the Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier on Thursday evening.
This was not entirely the case.
The show features almost 140 musicians and singers, a very impressive number of artists that we rarely see all together on the same stage.
But for a long time the 70 or so singers stand motionless without singing. And we wonder why we invited them. When they all sing together, the thrill comes and you think they could have been used more.
This tribute to Riopelle includes his share of happy moments, like the few old audio interviews with Riopelle himself that present us with a fun and down-to-earth personality.
During the concert, you can also admire more than 80 works by the artist projected on screens. The practice adds dynamism to the show.
Divided into five acts, Riopelle symphonique traces the life and artistic career of the man who was born in Montreal in 1923. We begin awakening and emerging in the 1930s, we approach their international breakthrough in the 1950s, and we end with their return to their sources in the 1980s.
Marie Saint Pierre
Were we expecting another concert on the way to the Place des Arts on Thursday evening? Still, we would have liked a little more “Oumf” in this creation, which featured a bit too many white spots for a fairly short 75-minute show.
And the musicians’ famous costumes, designed by Marie Saint-Pierre. We were told they were spectacular and would have liked to see more of them. But apart from the conductor Adam Johnson, who wore a gorgeous costume depicting the white goose, we didn’t really get to admire the other outfits.
Despite everything, Riopelle symphonique succeeds in making us want to delve deeper into Riopelle’s rich work. For that alone, the concert would have deserved the light of day.
►Symphonic Riopelle will be presented again on Friday evening and Saturday in the Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier.