For soprano Marie-Josée Lord, her upcoming performance at Sagebrush Theatre will be an evening of firsts.
It's her first visit to Kamloops, which the Haitian-born Lord is looking forward to, and it's the first time the accomplished singer and musician will perform Les nuits d'été — or Summer Nights as it's also know — a song cycle by French composer Hector Berlioz.
"I'm excited," Lord said in a phone interview from her home in Quebec. "It's a premiere for everything."
Lord said Les nuits d'été is "big." Indeed, the 30-minute piece is comprised of six poems by Théophile Gautier touching on the subjects of love, desire and longing.
"It's very beautiful music," she said. "It speaks about love, it speaks about nature and it speaks about death. It's a little bit of everything."
Les nuits d'été was written for voice and piano, but the piece has since been adapted for soprano and orchestra. The title of the song collection is a nod to the French title of A Midsummer Night's Dream, by William Shakespeare.
Music and singing has been a key part of Lord's life. A Canadian family adopted her from Haiti when she was six and she grew up in the small Quebec town of Lévis.
One of the many opportunities her adoptive parents afforded her was music. She spent 15 years studying piano and eight on the violin. But, at 21, she gave up both disciplines and decided to sing.
Actually, she was going to pursue a degree in psychology, but happened to overhear a conservatory singing lesson.
"I discovered the lyric workshop at the school and I was fascinated by that," she said. "I was standing there looking in through the window of the door and the stage manager said to come in. I think he got tired of seeing my face in the door."
The language of the music was made for her, she said. The production and rehearsal process that goes into an opera also fascinated Lord.
"For me, it's a mix of everything that I know. There's the piano, the text, the words, the music, the acting, the story. All this really captivated me and spoke to me," she said.
The move paid off, and now Lord is an accomplished soprano with a wide repertoire of opera music to her credit. She hopes the Kamloops audience will enjoy her voice and the musicality she puts into her performance on Feb. 9.
"I hope they will be able to live the emotion I will bring to that music," said Lord.
Kamloops Symphony's music director, Bruce Dunn, says the audience is in for a real treat.
"It's not a big, razzle-dazzle kind of show, although there's a lot of really deep stuff in there," said Dunn.
Eric Whitacre's October opens the evening. He composed the piece wanting to evoke a musical representation of the month he has called his favourite and the feeling it evokes within him.
"It's one of those pieces that comes along now and then, and it's just a beautiful piece. Everyone who hears it, loves it," said Dunn.
He said Whitacre wrote October for a wind ensemble, but it has since been transcribed for string instruments.
"It's a good way to set up the tone of the show," said Dunn, adding Les nuits d'été will follow.
Les nuits d'été was written when Berlioz's first marriage was ending and he had found a new love, said Dunn.
The music is subtle and conveys a constant dialogue between the orchestra and the soprano.
"It's just beautiful stuff," said Dunn.
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Kamloops Symphony Orchestra presents A Joyful Noyse Saturday, Feb. 9, 7 p.m. at Sagebrush Theatre.
TICKETS: Kamloops Live! Box Office, wwww.kamloopslive.com.