Canadian opera co. taps Girard

MONTREAL – Canadian feature helmer Francois Girard is set to follow in the footsteps of fellow Canuck film director Atom Egoyan and try his hand at live opera. The Toronto-based Canadian Opera Co. has signed Girard to direct a double bill of Igor Stravinsky’s “Symphony of Psalms” and “Oedipus Rex,” which will open the company’s season in September.

This is the second time in the past year that Canada’s leading opera institution has gone scouting in the cinema milieu for directing talent. Last fall, “Exotica” helmer Egoyan kicked off the Canadian Opera’s season with his unorthodox update of Richard Strauss’ “Salome.”

Grammy winner

Girard, who is best-known for his 1993 arthouse pic “Thirty-Two Short Films About Glenn Gould,” won a Grammy Award last year for his concert film “Peter Gabriel’s Secret World.”

The Montreal director is currently in pre-production on his next feature, “The Red Violin,” to be produced by Rhombus Media of Toronto in partnership with New Line Intl. and Britain’s Channel Four.

Creative and commercial sense

Using film directors to do opera makes both creative and commercial sense, according to Canadian Opera Co. artistic director Richard Bradshaw.

“I think some of the most exciting directors in the world are film directors, and it just so happens that two of them (Egoyan and Girard) live in Canada,” Bradshaw said. “Francois Girard is so musical and he is going to bring in a new crowd.”

The Canadian Opera Company has worked with “Le Confessionnal” director Robert Lepage in the past. Bradshaw said he is talking with other film helmers, notably eccentric Winnipeg auteur Guy Maddin, about future collaborations.

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