founded on
a simple idea.

Inaugural Project

Five Years
Crown the Muse’s inaugural project is to create and mount a work of musical theater; a dark, sensual fantasy inspired by Poulenc’s La Voix Humaine. It is a collaboration between mezzo-soprano Mireille Lebel, soprano/pianist Rachel Fenlon, and stage director Bruno Ravella.

The inspiration, Poulenc’s La Voix Humaine, is a one-woman opera which takes place entirely over the telephone. The audience witnesses a heart-wrenching one sided break-up; the abdicating lover is neither seen nor heard. The three artists began exploring the idea of creating a new work using fragments of the Poulenc and newly composed music, to introduce the pianist as an onstage character who is the departing lover. Fenlon and Lebel use their unique musical and dramatic skills to embody the ill-fated lovers. A dream-like musical prequel chronicles the meeting of the two women and tells a love story from each of their perspectives. The artists delve into the creation and destruction of a love affair; the final result is a full length musical theater work for the stage.

This work will be created in Berlin during the 2021/2022 season. Follow the creative journey of the three artists as they develop this work from the ground up. Videos, photos, and journals will be posted to this website and to Instagram throughout the process. This work is made possible by the Canada Council for the Arts.
founded on
a simple idea.
Canadian mezzo-soprano Mireille Lebel grew up in Vancouver and is based in Berlin. She sings leading roles for lyric mezzo in opera houses internationally. While continuing to add roles to her core repertoire – in 2022 she will make a house and role début as Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier at Staatstheater Nürnberg conducted by Joana Mallwitz -, she produces and creates musical projects. In 2020 she co-founded the artistic collective Crown The Muse in Berlin with frequent collaborator, the soprano/pianist Rachel Fenlon. They were awarded a Canada Council Grant for their first collaboration, a staged two woman opera directed by Bruno Ravella.

Mireille graduated with a Bachelor of Music from the University of Toronto and a Master of Music from the University of Montreal and is the recipient of grants from the Canada Council and the Jacqueline Desmarais Foundation. Following her tenure as a young artist at the Atelier Lyrique de l’Opéra de Montreal, a grant from the Jeunes Ambassadeurs Lyriques sent her on an audition tour to Germany. She was engaged at Theater Erfurt where she became a member of the ensemble for 5 years singing roles such as Sesto (Clemenza di Tito), Orlovsky (Die Fledermaus), Haensel (Haensel und Gretel), and Idamante (Idomeneo).

Once the fest contract in Erfurt was complete, Berlin captured her imagination and Mireille relocated there as a freelance artist. Since then, she has worked in opera and concert with theatres in Europe and North America including Opera Atelier, Narodni Divadlo Praha, Theater Basel, Opera Theatre de Metz, Opera de Nancy, Opera de Nice, Vancouver Opera, Schwetzingen SWR Festspiele, Aix-en-Provence Festival, Schleswig Holstein Musik Festival, Les Violons du Roy, Collegium 1704, and the Houston Symphony. Her roles include Elle in La Voix Humaine (recorded for Vancouver Opera’s digital season 2020), Charlotte in Werther (recorded for Culture Box and French television), the title role in Carmen, Penelope in Il ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria, Nerone in L’incoronazione di Poppea, the title role in Gluck’s Orfeo, Nicklausse in Les contes d’Hoffmann, Siébel in Faust, and Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro. She has worked as a soloist with conductors Christoph Eschenbach, Bernard Labadie, Hervé Niquet, Jonathan Darlington, Jean-Marie Zeitouni, Rodolfo Richter, Jacques Lacombe, Yannick Nezet-Seguin, and regularly performs the music of composer Samy Moussa. She has recorded 6 opera discs with the Boston Early Music Festival on the CPO label, including the 2015 Grammy Winner La descente d’Orphée aux enfers, and continues to collaborate with them on live and recorded baroque opera projects.

Rachel Fenlon
Canadian soprano and pianist Rachel Fenlon proves that innovation and tradition do not have to be in conflict. Rachel performs recitals as soprano and pianist, accompanying herself, at concert halls and festivals internationally. Valued for her dazzling, flexible soprano, her curiosity and courage to experiment, Rachel performs programmes from Franz Schubert, Claude Debussy, and Olivier Messiaen, to contemporary composers such as George Crumb, Philip Glass, Sofia Gubaidulina, Samy Moussa and Nicole Lizee. Works written especially for her form an increasing part of her repertoire, including original song cycles by Matthias McIntire, Susanne Stelzenbach, Gavin Franser, and Danika Lorèn.

Rachel has performed self-accompanied recitals at festivals such as Festival de Lanaudière, the Oxford Lieder Festival, PODIUM Festival Matadepera, the Toronto Summer Music Festival, Kammermusik Festival Ahrenshoop, Bristol Song Recitals, GEDOK Festival Berlin, the Vancouver Opera Festival, and at venues such as the National SAW Gallery, the Late Night Liederabend Vienna, the Fox Cabaret, Oper Leipzig, the National Arts Centre Canada, Against the Grain Toronto, the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC Studios Vancouver), the Baumann Centre at Pacific Opera Victoria, and the Theater am Delphi Berlin.

In 2021-22, Rachel performs recitals at Settimane Musicali di Ascona, GEDOK Festival Berlin, Ottawa Chamberfest, Rittersaal Schlosss Tettnang, IDAGIO Global Concert Hall, Vancouver Opera, Virtuosi Festival Brazil, Randspiele Berlin, an artist residency at the Banff Centre, soprano soloist in Bach’s B Minor Mass with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, and the world premiere of the song cycle for self-accompanied soprano, piano and live electronics Sing Nature Alive From My Insides, commissioned and produced by New ART New MEDIA.

Having begun her career at Vancouver Opera as a young artist, Rachel continues to appear on the opera stage, and has appeared as a guest soloist with the Deutsche Oper Berlin (Heart Chamber), Vancouver Opera (Susanna: The Marriage of Figaro, Pamina: The Magic Flute, Zerlina: Don Giovanni, Mabel: The Pirates of Penzance), Oper Leipzig (La Donna e Cinema), and Pacific Opera Victoria (Guinevere: Camelot, Nannetta: Falstaff).

Rachel is a founding member of the new Berlin-based artist collective Crown The Muse, together with co-founder Mireille Lebel. Upcoming projects include a two woman opera staged by Bruno Ravella. This project is fully funded by the Canada Council for the Arts. Rachel is also a member of the Canadian Artist Collective New ART New MEDIA, and the founding host of “Classical (R)evolution”, an interview series on IDAGIO, currently in its second season.

Rachel lives in Berlin with her cactus Allen Ginsberg and writes poetry when the muses call.
Bruno Ravella
Bruno Ravella is an international opera director based in London, UK. Born in Casablanca of Italian and Polish parents, he was educated mainly in France, and made London his home as soon as he graduated.

Bruno has just had his Opéra national du Rhin directing debut with Verdi’s Stiffelio, the first French production of the piece and a co-production with the Opéra de Dijon.

.This Summer he directed Der Rosenkavalier at Garsington Opera, a co-production with Irish National Opera and Santa Fe Opera. This was his third production at this UK festival, following Falstaff in summer 2019, and in June 2015 Strauss' Intermezzo, both received with great public and critical acclaim.

Bruno had his American directing debut in 2019 with Rigoletto at Opera Theatre of St Louis. His Werther at the Opéra national de Lorraine in Nancy has been awarded the Prix de la critique Claude Rostand for best opera production of the season 2017/2018 in France outside Paris, and was revived in 2019 at the Opera de Quebec, and in 2021 at the Opéra de Montpellier. It will be seen at the Opéra de Marseille in March 2022. La belle Hélène brought him back to Nancy in December 2019 for his 3rd project there.

In 2017 he had his Italian directing debut at the Opera di Firenze/Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in Florence with Puccini's La Boheme. 2016 highlights include the double bill L'heure espagnole and Gianni Schicchi for the Opera National de Lorraine in Nancy, France, Verdi's Macbeth for Iford Arts and Cavalleria Rusticana/I Pagliacci for Hampstead Garden Opera in their new North London home.

Der Rosenkavalier at Garsington Opera is available to view online on Operavision from 20 October.
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