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The premiere performance of the opera Louis Riel on 23 September 1967 was a landmark event in the history of Canadian opera. The circumstances of the genesis of the opera and its first production are examined. The birth of Louis Riel took place in the context of Canada’s centennial celebrations, which saw several other dramatic works about Riel created and also a number of other new Canadian operas. The revivals of the first production of the opera in 1968 and 1975 are discussed, as are the radio (1967) and television (1969) broadcasts and the recordings on LP (1985) and DVD (2011). The critical reception of the first production of Louis Riel is examined for the light it can shed on the nature and quality of the opera as a collaborative work of art.