Engaging with recent work on Métis history, this article situates Harry Somers’s Louis Riel (1967) within a framework of changing public perceptions about Riel, the historic Métis leader. We cast the opera as a sonic technology through which Riel is reanimated and ventriloquized in displays of Canadian nationalism. Our argument draws on interviews with musicologists, historians, and members of the cast and crew from our podcast, Riel Opera Talk. We scrutinize the extent to which the Canadian Opera Company’s new production of Louis Riel (2017) enacted cultural attentiveness both on stage and, crucially, through its music. Turning to literature on the ethics of listening, we propose that the score itself can listen to its changing cultural context and articulate an attentive response. Challenging the colonizing impact of the opera, we conclude, necessitates a willingness to dismantle the very score in which it is written.


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pp. 59-72
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