The economic, cultural and social reference newspaper in Montreal and Quebec
"We still have the impression that opera began in the 20th century.e In fact, its history began at the beginning of the Colony, in 1606," explains Pierre Vachon, musicologist and Director of Communications and Community and Educational Action at the Opéra de Montréal, to Radio Canada.
The play, "Le théâtre de Neptune", by writer and traveler Marc Lescarbot, was the first manifestation of this genre, i.e., sung theater, even if the musical beginnings of the 17e century are very timid in Montreal. So we had to wait until the 18the In the 18th century, French settlers in New France brought with them opera excerpts by Jean-Baptiste Lully, Louis XIV's composer, and English soldiers at the end of the 18th century, at the time of the Conquest, staged comic operas in Quebec for their amusement.
In 1790, French-Canadian composer, violinist, playwright and poet Joseph Quesnel produced the first Canadian opera, and quite possibly the first in North America. "Colas et Colinette ou le Bailli dupé" tells the story of a shepherdess (Colinette), ward of Monsieur Dolmont, who prefers a simple, honest young shepherd (Colas) to the older, more perverse Bailli, a well-established suitor. At 19e In the 19th century, American and European troupes toured North America, and foreign singers settled in Montreal, including the illustrious Emma Albani.
Leïle-Marie Chalfoun, the next generation of opera singers is here!
A radiant soprano trained at the Conservatoire de musique de Montréal and the Atelier lyrique de l'Opéra de Montréal, Leïla-Marie Chalfoun's career began at the Opéra de Montréal, where she sang her first roles, and continued in New York, Monte Carlo, Italy, France and many other countries.
In 1998, with her sister Lory, she created the "LM Opéra" agency, which she now runs alone, with the help of a number of invaluable partners, including her new renowned partner Hélène Clermont.
Leïla-Marie is also Founding Director of the Prestigious FestivalOpéra des Grandes Laurentides (FOGL), originally named FestivalOpéra de St-Eustache when it was created in 2009, along with her former spouse Meti Jori and Deux-Montagnes MNA and Minister of the Environment and Climate, Benoit Charette, who is still a major partner of the FestivalOpéra des Grandes Laurentides.
The festival held its first edition in 2010.
Medals, prizes and success!
Leïla's distinguished career is a testament to her talent as an accomplished singer, and to the contribution she makes to Quebec and Canadian culture today.
On May 10, 2017, Mr. Benoit Charette - Minister of the Environment and MNA for Deux-Montagnes, presented Leila Marie Chalfoun with the medal of the National Assembly for her contribution and involvement in the Eustachian cultural community, as well as on March 7, 2017, a certificate from the Quebec National Assembly to the FestivalOpéra de St-Eustache, in recognition of her invaluable contribution to the quality of life of fellow citizens.
Leïla was awarded the Cèdre et Érable prize by the Canada-Lebanon Chamber of Commerce and Industry at their annual Grand Gala held on November 28, 2015. She was also awarded the Ordre de Saint-Eustache on October 23, 2012 and the Prix Cybèle 2011 by the City of Saint-Eustache. On March 21, 2013, Ms. Chalfoun won the Arts et Culture award for "the Arab woman of Quebec" for her lifetime achievements in opera as a soprano and artistic director.
Most recently in April 2019, she shone in the Récital-Retrouvailles in honor of her master pianist Claudette Denys at the FestivalOpéra de Saint-Eustache. In September 2018, she sang Canada's national anthem at the Grand Opening of Lebanese Diaspora Energy at the Palais des Congrès.
As the founder of FOGL, what were you most motivated to create?
The FestivalOpéra des Grandes Laurentides was created out of a desire to promote concerts by fabulous artists. In 2009, my ex-spouse and I came up with the idea of founding the festival, as we originally had a lyric artist agency that I now run alone, renamed Agence LM Opéra. We thought that the festival in the magnificent town of St-Eustache, with its enchanting venues such as the intimate Centre d'art "La petite église", would be ideal for recitals, and the great church of St-Eustache, renowned for its unique acoustics, and "La Promenade Paul Sauvé", also ideal for free open-air concerts overlooking the Mille-Iles river.
I'm basically a soprano and had a successful career in the 90s and 2000s, and my sister Lory had the idea of creating the agency formerly known as Mulè to promote me, and by the same token my Quebec colleagues, as there was no opera agency in Quebec. I took over this prestigious agency, now called LM for Leila-Marie or "Elle aime l'Opéra".
My main motivation was to create a festival with magnificent opera productions in the Laurentian region, which had none, and to present great opera singers and, of course, ensure the next generation of opera singers. 
Scheduled for July 10 to 12, 2020, the Opéra Saint-Eustache festival has unfortunately been postponed to a later date due to the pandemic-a big frustration for you and the organizers, isn't it?
Yes, a great sadness, because we had prepared an 11e edition with our new partner the Orchestre Symphonique de Laval and its conductor Alain Trudel. It will be announced this fall, and the new dates are set for July 9 to 11, 2021. 
But this situation has allowed you to broadcast old events, to highlight FOGL's old creations and to go back to the past - a blessing in disguise? 
Exactly, that's what we're doing right now, and we still have a lot of productions and concerts to present. It warms my heart to bring it all out again, and it touches me to see all the wonderful artists we've welcomed back.
In fact, I invite your audience to visit our website to see these productions.
I'm very happy and privileged to be in the opera business, which is my passion, and to present the artists.
We've welcomed some big names: our headliner Hugo Laporte, Natalie Choquette, Gino Quilico, Chantal Lambert, Etienne Cousineau to name but a few... 
Tell us a little about the Christmas Recitals and Concerts in Seniors' Residences that you organize... what exactly are they?
A new initiative this year was to bring our concerts to senior citizens' homes.
Thanks to the support of patron Mr. Jacques Marchand, we were able to offer magnificent recitals with great artists to our very appreciative elders, notably virtuoso pianist Jean-Philippe Sylvestre and fabulous harpist Valérie Milot.
Several excerpts from these recitals can be viewed on our YouTube channel, including :
The one with pianist Maureen Frawley:

The one with pianist Jean-Philippe Sylvestre: 

The one with harpist Valérie Milot: 

Tell us more about FOGL's activities...
We offer a number of activities, the core of which is, of course, our usual multi-day July program featuring an opera presentation, concerts and the presentation of the winners of the Young Lyric Ambassadors Program.
In addition to our regular programming, we present concerts outside the enchanting venues of Old St. Eustatius. We go to seniors' residences, schools, public markets and more...
The mission of our festival is to promote lyrical art, to make it known and, above all, loved by those who are unfamiliar with it.
We're proud to say that we've developed a new audience beyond regular opera lovers. 
In every one of your publications on social networks and on your website, we feel this emphasis and praise for your performers and musicians. Tell us about them...
I am indeed delighted to present our artists at the FestivalOpéra des Grandes Laurentides, including the prodigious young baritone Hugo Laporte, the sumptuous Falcon Soprano, the diva Sharon Azrieli, the renowned soprano Chantal Dionne, the sublime young soprano Suzanne Taffot, the spectacular young soprano Eleonora Deveze, the powerful voices of bass-baritone Enrique Angeles and bassMarcel Beaulieu, the great American tenor Michael Wade-Lee, to name but a few.
Through our agency, which is a major partner of FestivalOpéra, we invite great artists such as Jean-François Lapointe, Natalie Choquette, Colin Doroschuk, Claude-Robin Pelletier, mezzo Julie Nesrallah, Gino Quilico, Jean-Philippe Sylvestre, Valérie Milot and up-and-coming singers. Each year, through the Young Lyric Ambassadors Program and our partner Opéra de Montréal and its Atelier lyrique, we discover wonderful young singers such as Ana Paula Malagon soprano, Rose Naggar-Tremblay mezzo, Mathieu Abel tenor, Geoffroy Salvas baritone... 
Which historical period and style do you identify with most as an opera singer?
I was lucky enough to start at the age of 22 at the Atelier Lyrique de l'Opéra de Montréal, where I was given my first professional experience on the big Opéra de Montréal stage. I shone in operettas and operas with character roles such as the wicked sister of Cinderella, and also in more romantic roles such as Antonia from Les Contes d'Hoffmann in the Soirée Offenbach at the Monte Carlo Opera and Rosina from Le Barbier de Séville at the Catania Festival, among others, not forgetting the many Offenbach operettas under the baton of Maestro Yves Abel at the Opéra Français de New-York. Today, at 53 and under the supervision of my teacher Guinka Radilova, I enjoy singing Italian verismo repertoire, especially Puccini's Tosca and Adriana Lecouvreur.
Here's a clip from home during the lockdown: 

You recently paid tribute to Premier François Légault for his support of the cultural milieu, under the slogan "pour que la culture rejaillisse" ("for culture to flourish"). Where do your satisfactions and disappointments lie in terms of cultural and artistic emergence and promotion in Quebec and Canada?
We are fortunate to live in a magnificent country where culture is valued. Quebec artists are brilliant in both opera and popular music. Both the federal and provincial governments support our artists, and our FestivalOpéra des Grandes Laurentides is very grateful to them.
I'd like to take this opportunity to mention that the MP for our Deux-Montagnes region and Minister Benoit Charette founded our festival with me and my ex-spouse in 2009. We went to Benoit with our project, and he helped us make our festival a reality.
Today, with this pandemic that has shaken the planet, we are at a standstill and awaiting the resumption of our activities. Our festival has been postponed until July 2021. In the meantime, we'll be announcing virtual concerts in the near future..
We're being told to reinvent ourselves because of the physical distance and present videos until we get back to the concert hall or we have to make changes. I understand the idea and protecting people's health above all else, but I'm confident, being positive by nature, that we'll find a way to do it, and it's got to be quick because we need to start again as soon as possible and as early as this autumn. Yes, we can make videos at home, but we absolutely need the relationship between the artist on stage and the audience in the hall. This interaction between artist and audience is fundamental. That's the importance of lyrical art. 
What are your plans for the future as President of FOGL?
We have big plans with our new partner, the Orchestre Symphonique de Laval and its brilliant conductor Alain Trudel.
We'll be presenting magnificent grand operas under his direction not only in St-Eustache, but also in St-Jovite, in partnership with the Festival Stradivaria. After that, we'll be presenting our operas all over the Laurentians, which is why we've changed the name to Grandes Laurentides, but the base remains, of course, our home town of St-Eustache, the birthplace of our Festival.
We also have another great partner: the Chœur de Laval and its conductor Dany Wiseman, whom I proudly represent within my LM Opéra agency. 
Do you have a special message for your fans and all opera lovers?
The message is: come and see our magnificent operas and concerts - we look forward to welcoming you!
Until we resume our activities, we invite you to follow us on our website and on our social networks, where we are very active.
Thank you for this interview, and we look forward to seeing you at our next event, July 9-11, 2021, not forgetting our virtual concerts in July 2020, next month! 
Interview by Hamid Si Ahmed


-The store
-Subscription to 12 issues of The Initiative for 36$.

-Our partners
-General terms and conditions of sale
-About us
-Contact us
-Publish a news item

-Contact the editors by phone at :514-360-6267 or by email :


Categorized in: