Slideshow The Nightingale and Other Short Fables

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The Nightingale and Other Short Fables
The Nightingale and Other Short Fables
The Nightingale and Other Short Fables
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The Nightingale/The Fox (1914 / 1922)
  • Music by Igor Stravinsky
    librettos after Hans Christian Andersen (Nightingale) and Stravinsky (Fox)
  • Co-production
    Canadian Opera Company (Toronto)
    Festival d'art lyrique d'Aix-en-Provence
    Opéra national de Lyon
    De Nederlandse Opera (Amsterdam)
    in collaboration with Ex Machina
  • Director
    Robert Lepage
  • Assistant Director
    Sybille Wilson
  • Set Designer
    Carl Fillion
  • Puppetry Designer
    Michael Curry
  • Puppetry Choreographer
    Martin Genest
  • Costumes, Wigs and Make-up Designer
    Mara Gottler
  • Lighting Designer
    Etienne Boucher
  • Artistic and Musical Consultant
    Rebecca Blankenship
  • Workshop Performers
    Anne Barry
    Geneviève Bérubé
    Guy Lessard
    Francis Roberge

  • Puppeteers-Acrobats
    Andrea Ciacci
    Caroline Tanguay
    David Bonneville
    Noam Markus
    Martin Vaillancourt
    Sean Robertson (doublure)


  • Choreography
    Moses Pendleton & Cynthia Quinn (Momix, USA)
  • Shadow Theater
    Philippe Beau (France)


  • Set Construction
    Scène Éthique (Varennes, Quebec)
  • Puppet Production
    Michael Curry Design (Oregon, USA)
  • Costume Maker
    Metamorphosis (Quebec, Quebec)
  • Props production
    Acmé (Beloeil, Québec)
  • Technical Director
    Michel Gosselin
  • Assistant Technical Director
    Eric Gautron
  • Production Director
    Bernard Gilbert
  • Production Assistant
    Viviane Paradis
  • Producer
    Michel Bernatchez
  • Producer Assistant
    Vanessa Landry-Claverie

The Nightingale and Other Short Fables


The idea of a double bill with Le Rossignol (1914) and Renard (1915/1922), two short operas by Igor Stravinsky, is rather atypical in the world of opera houses. The scenography and the theatrical language put to use have a similar feel.

Very early in the creation process, Robert Lepage joined the well-known American puppet designer Michael Curry. In fact, the art of puppetry will occupy a central role in this show, as well as shadow theatre. Asia is a great source of inspiration for this piece, with references to Vietnamese traditions, the mua rôi nuac, a water puppet, and Japanese traditions, the bunraku.

The Nightingale
Written by Stravinsky from a tale by Hans Christian Andersen, this opera can be seen as a chinoiserie, a 19th century European tradition which inspired the design team. Nourished by the traditional Vietnamese puppet theatre, the central design concept may come as a surprise: a water basin is placed in the orchestra pit. Stage right and stage left, the pool is flanked by platforms. Puppeteers, singers and soloists handle the characters, symbolized by the various puppets. The choir will be around the pool as well as on both platforms, and some soloists will sing in the water. The orchestra will play on stage, behind the pool, while the conductor will be located stage left between the performing area and musicians. A particularly interesting aspect of this concept is that both the singers and the choir will sing close to the public.

As an additional concept to The Nightingale, Fox is designed vertically, as in shadow theatre. The sources of inspiration come from Asian (mainly Chinese) and African traditions. The puppeteers will work, here, in a more acrobatic choreography, in the way burlesque is performed. The conductor will be positioned on the stage right platform. All sixteen musicians will be performing in front of the shadow theatre display, while the four soloists sing on the stage left platform.

Other Short Fables by Stravinsky
As these two operas are short, the program will begin with a series of pieces for soloists or small groups. The Nightingale and Fox were written around 1910, this program comes from the same composition period. Ragtime will be interpreted as an opening, and three or four cycles of melodies will follow.

The Nightingale and Other Short Fables was created in October 2009 at the Canadian Opera Company (Toronto). Presented at the Festival Lyrique d’Aix-en-Provence in July 2010, then at the Lyon Opera during the autumn of 2010, it won the Claude Rostand Award in June 2011. Awarded by the Syndicat de la critique in France, this prize crowns the best lyrical production created outside Paris.

The French CBC produced for the Web a series of short videos on The Nightingale and Other Short Fables. These bring us behind the scenes of the opera creation with video interviews and photo albums. To watch them, visit our video gallery. You will also find some videos produced by The Canadian Opera Company.


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