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Colas et Colinette

Colas et Colinette


Colas et Colinette, a "comedy in prose intermixed with ariettas" with text and music by Joseph Quesnel, is widely regarded as the first operatic work to be written in Canada and also the first to be performed. It premiered in Montreal on January 14th 1790 at the Théâtre de Société.

The plot centres on Monsieur Dolmont's ward, the shepherdess Colinette, who would rather have Colas, a simple and honest young shepherd, as a husband than le Bailli, who claims to be well established but is old and depraved. The score consists of 14 pieces, including arias for each character, duos, and a final chorus. The libretto and music are reminiscent of Quesnel's contemporaries Grétry, Monsigny, and Philidor.

In 1963, Godfrey Ridout, reconstructed the opera based on existing vocal and second violin parts for a performance in Toronto, conducted by Ridout himself, on October 6, 1963 by Ten Centuries Concerts. CBC Radio broadcast Colas et Colinette in March 1965 on its French network and on its English network in May of that year. It was also performed for a CBC television broadcast on March 25, 1969.


Joseph Quesnel (1746-1809) - Born in France, Quesnel arrived in Canada in 1779. A sailor by profession and an arms dealer, he was arrested by the British in Nova Scotia and forced to remain in Canada. An educated man from a wealthy family, he had studied both literature and music. Little is left of his works whose primary goal was to amuse fellow citizens because in Canada at that time, there was "no such thing as music".

Godfrey Ridout (1918-1984) - Born in Toronto, Ridout's interest in music was kindled early by being taken to concerts of the newly reformed Toronto Symphony Orchestra. He received his musical education in Toronto under Ettore Mazzoleni, Charles Peaker and Healey Willan. He was appointed to the staff of the Toronto Conservatory of Music in 1939 and to the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto in 1948. He retired from the University's Faculty of Music in 1982. According the composer John Beckwith, "Ridout is characterized as a 'conservative traditionalist' counterbalancing his adherence to traditional values were, in his teaching, a liberalist's tolerance for ideas presented in open discussion, and, in his personality and his creative work, often an irrepressible boyishness and sense of fun".- John Beckwith

Rose Latulippe Colas et Colinette Centre Elan Atlantic Suite Cain

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