It is common for a new work to take years to move from the idea stage to the premiere. La Noche Oscura, composed specifically for Nicole Car and Étienne Dupuis as part of their 2019 Great Performers recital, was no exception to the rule.
Written by Kevin March
In 2016, Étienne sang the role of Simon Doucet for the premiere of my opera Les Feluettes with Opéra de Montréal. I loved writing for and working with Étienne in the role and even wrote an additional aria for him one week before the premiere which he performed as if he’d lived with the aria for years.
It was at the premiere that I also first met Nicole who was, at the time, Étienne’s fiancée. I was fortunate that both Nicole and Étienne liked the way I wrote for the voice so we kept in touch and kept our eyes open for an opportunity to work together on another project: perhaps a set of songs for them or a concert duet of some kind. Late in 2018, as the plans for and theme of this recital program began to come together, the idea for this work also came together and the choice of text became clear.
La Noche Oscura (Dark Night) was written in the 15th century by the Carmelite friar San Juan de la Cruz (St. John of the Cross). On its surface, the poem reads like an intense, clandestine, meeting of lovers. Each lover secrets away from their respective homes to come together under the cover of darkness to express their adoration for one another. This particular poem, in keeping with the Spanish influenced theme of this recital tour is, in some ways also reflective of Nicole’s and Étienne’s relationship, having come together, from nearly opposite ends of the world, for love of one another and for love of music. Beneath the poem’s romantic veneer however, lies a mystical, metaphorical subtext about a soul’s yearning for the divine.
See adored Australian soprano Nicole Car, internationally acclaimed French-Canadian baritone Étienne Dupuis and star pianist Jayson Gillham perform La Noche Oscura plus dazzling works by Duparc, Verdi, Ravel and more on Wednesday 7 August. Find out more here.