“We’re taking our crack at the glass ceiling with #TheNextWave, Canada’s largest opera creation event ever featuring female directors, female composers, and female librettists,” read a recent post on the Musique 3 Femmes Facebook page.
The Montréal-based non-profit organization and ensemble, founded in 2018 by pianist Jennifer Szeto, mezzo-soprano Kristin Hoff, and soprano Suzanne Rigden, has long been interested in telling the stories of women.
Musique 3 Femmes grew out of an earlier project called We Are Women, a musical theatre cabaret tied together by a story written by the performers. “We would perform this concert and give back to women’s organizations when we performed. We loved feeling that we were helping people while we performed,” Rigden said in an interview with us, but after encountering some problems with potential copyright issues, the group decided to change focus.
After a period of research and brainstorming and what Rigden describes as “good timing and some luck,” they came across Mécénat Musica, a cultural program by donors for donors that encourages philanthropy in arts and culture, and the Prix 3 Femmes was born.
This award not only gave female composers and librettists the opportunity to have their works developed and performed, but also provided a platform for the stories of women to be shared by women. As Rigden noted, so many songs are written about women, but not by women. The Next Wave Workshop aims to change this.
The five short operas presented in the Next Wave Workshop are presented entirely from the female perspective, with five teams of female composers, librettists, and stage directors, in addition to the Musique 3 Femmes team of performers. For the women involved, the experience of working with an all-female creative team has been nothing short of “amazing.”
In the weeks and months leading up to the Next Wave Workshop on March 23, 2019, the women of Musique 3 Femmes have visited several universities, working with young composers and singers in workshops and masterclasses. Rigden encourages young people to take in as much theatre, music, and art as possible, and to find artists that inspire them.
Her advice to young women and girls interested in making their own cracks in the glass ceiling? “Go out and express yourself in any way you feel compelled to. Art is life!”