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Opera at Jean-Talon Market

Also published in The Rover.

The young lady (Emma Parkinson) handed me my change and began to sing the “Habanera” from Carmen awfully well for a produce retailer. Then a fellow in a cape (Etienne Dupuis) across the aisle gave an unnervingly professional rendition of “Votre toast, je peux vous le rendre”, completing the lyrical geometry begun by a La Traviata duet (Pascale Beaudin and Riccardo Iannello) a few minutes earlier. And then it was over, the singers folding back into the scenery, and I haggled for carrots.

I’d arrived at Marché Jean-Talon an hour before with my lobster carrier – who visits me when I need her, but I never have to ask – after receiving a threatening invitation about an opera event. I was told to come but not to talk about it. I guess they wanted to avoid a riot. And like a tourist I foolishly expected a musical event in Montreal to start on time.

So we walked around, the lobsters scraping pathetically at their prison, and scared children with our “listening faces”. No opera; just a few smaller acts, but I think probably unaffiliated. We had a nice huarache at the taco stand, but it did not soothe my growing paranoia at being the victim of a music publicist and fishmonger conspiracy (my two biggest expenses according to my credit card so it’s reasonable they would find each other.)

Whatever the reasons, forty minutes later they sang and it was wonderful, skin-crawlingly terrific, and just a little sad to feel the energy of a performer so close and know it was the last time. Like saying goodbye to a lover.

It sure didn’t make me excited to return to Place des Arts, renovated or not, and back to the phlegm-y seats in Critics’ Row. But the solution came on the walk home: turn Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier into a market during the day. Concerts usually take place in the evenings, when the market is closed anyway, and there would always be rotten tomatoes on hand.