Despite such considerations, after an absence of 30 years, it was decided that Louis Riel would be produced once more.
Librettist Mavor Moore was present, as were conductor Victor Feldbrill, soprano Mary Morrison (the first Sara, Riel's sister), bass Joseph Rouleau (Bishop Tache), baritone Bernard Turgeon (the first and only Riel until now) and historian and author Maggie Siggins.
Louis Riel emerged through the memories of these guests as more than another operatic production.
But perhaps the most moving testimony came from Turgeon, who admitted Riel was the role of his life.
Riel is a compendium of universal themes that make his story at one and the same time both ours and humanity's.
Beginning with the Fort Garry and Red River risings of 1869 and the establishment of a provisional government by Riel, the opera charts his quest for Metis rights in the midst of Canadian expansion.
Opera McGill's two performances of Louis Riel in Theatre Maisonneuve of Place des Arts (January 27 and 28) simultaneously vindicated the university's decision to invest so heavily in this project and revealed Louis Riel to be a work of remarkable vision.
Somers and his librettists, Moore and Jacques Languirand, created a monumental character in Riel, an often heroic and constantly tragic figure, one obsessed by social justice and pursued by mystical delusions.
The dramatic triangle in Louis Riel is completed by the characters of Prime Minister John A.
Somers' score for Louis Riel is very much like Canada itself, a fusion of influences.