Barbe & Doucet, a Quebec duo set to conquer international opera

Since their debut, their productions have been performed and critically acclaimed in the United Kingdom, Germany and Switzerland.

Their secret? North American efficiency, combined with a personal reading of great works and European creativity, say André Barbe and Renaud Doucet.

We have our buttocks in the middle of the Atlantic, which we absolutely claim, and now our feet in Africaillustrates Renaud Doucet, based near Marrakech, Morocco.

The opera “La Bohème”, a very colorful production by Renaud Doucet and André Barbe, in 2019.

Photo: Vancouver opera / SALLY JUBB

The latter was born in Europe, but landed in Montreal in 1993. He partnered with André Barbe in 2020.

Together, the two creators, who also form a couple, provide the scenography, costume design, staging and choreography for the operas they produce.

People know that the problems are resolved between us before we arrive, so there are no surpriseslaunches Renaud Doucet.

We eat opera, we really like it. We even listen to it in our spare time., adds André Barbe. A passion that feeds their reputation as craftsmen who know what they want and what they do, according to him.

Working all over the world also gives them great creative freedom. It allows us to choose a little bit what we want to doexplains Renaud Doucet.

A winning formula for the duo, who already have projects for the next four years.

Create despite the pandemic

COVID-19 has tested the performing arts community not only in Canada, but around the world. However, this did not slow down André Barbe and Renaud Doucet, who had to redouble their creativity to carry out shows in Germany, Latvia and Italy.

I had to try [de costumes] on Zoom, said André Barbe laughing. Once the choice of fabrics and cuts was made, however, this unusual work method turned out to be quite effective.

It’s a way to stay at home without having to spend a fortune on transport, fuel oil and a hotel room.he admits.

Renaud Doucet says for his part that he had to create choreographies taking into account the heartbeat of the dancers.

He explains that this data allowed him to measure the amount of air exhaled by the artists, and thus to predict the necessary distance between them according to health restrictions.

It still takes bad sick people to agree to say yes [à un contrat comme ça]he said, smirking.

Take advantage of Quebec talent

André Barbe and Renaud Doucet are not the only Quebecers to have exported their talent abroad in order to pursue a career in the world of opera and classical music.

You have to see the number of Quebec singers who are stars in the world of operasays Renaud Doucet.

The duo mentions the names of performers Frédéric Antoun, Julie Boulianne, Étienne Dupuis and Marie-Nicole Lemieux, in addition to evoking the careers of Michel Lauzière and Yannick Nézet-Séguin.

All of these people are people from Quebec who all work elsewhere because we are unable to support this activity. »

A quote from Renaud Doucet

Yannick Nézet-Séguin is artistic director and principal conductor of the Orchester Métropolitain, but he is also musical director of the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Metropolitan Opera (New York), in addition to being honorary conductor of the Rotterdams Philharmonisch Orkest.

Photo: Hans van der Woerd

André Barbe and Renaud Doucet are of the opinion that Quebec society must better support local talent in order to showcase it in La Belle Province.

This text was written from from an interview by Isabelle Craigshow host Penelope. Comments may have been edited for clarity and conciseness.

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