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Brave, Braver, Bravest

Louis Riel, the opera by Harry Somers and Mavor Moore commissioned for the Canadian centenary in 1967, was hungrily received into the national canon. Louis Riel was the first opera written by a Canadian to have its premiere at Canadian Opera Company, and its artistic merits have never been easily distinguishable from its genealogical ones; fifty years later, COC remains the only professional company to have performed it, most recently in 1975. The opera’s reappearance in Toronto this year for Canada’s sesquicentennial celebrations reinforced its politically charged status, which is why director Peter Hinton’s new production has faced such public scrutiny. Hinton’s debut staging with the company marked an attempt to update the musty politics of Riel.