Silent Measures/Une Mesure de silence
Silent Measures/ Une Mesure de silence. Comic opera in one act by Marthe Morisset-Blackburn (libretto) and Maurice Blackburn (music). Composed 1954-5 in Paris, the work was premiered 21 Apr 1956 on CBC TV ('Concerts pour la jeunesse') with Claire Gagnier as Martine, Jean-Paul Jeannotte as Bobino, and Yoland Guérard as Antonin, and Charles Reiner at the piano. The work was staged by Jean Gascon and produced by Françoys Bernier. The following 17 November it was presented in Eaton Auditorium, Toronto, in a double bill with Harry Somers'The Fool. On 15 Mar 1959 it was given at the Orpheum Theatre in Montreal. The following summer several performances were given at the Poudrière theatre in Montreal, followed by 100 performances during the JMC (YMC) 1960-1 tour on a double bill with the same composer's Pirouette. In August 1962 Silent Measures was produced as part of the Montreal Festivals. In May 1980 COMUS Music Theatre gave a reading of the work in Toronto, while in 1987 it was revived at the Maison des arts de Laval by the Théâtre d'art lyrique de Laval under the direction of Gilbert Patenaude, whose orchestration of the work had been approved by the composer.
The setting of the opera is Montreal in the period 1908-13. Martine discovers her husband's stinginess when he refuses her request for money to buy a new dress, and she pretends to be deaf and dumb to convince him to change his mind. She succeeds, with the complicity of their neighbour, Bobino. The libretto was translated into English by Guy Glover. Three excerpts, sung by Marthe Létourneau, Jean-Paul Jeannotte, and Jules Bruyère and accompanied by Charles Reiner, were recorded by the JMC (CD-JMC 1).