A Tribute to Jeanne Lamon - A Dear Friend, Treasured Colleague and Collaborator for more than 35 Years
On March 8, 2021, Jeannette and I received our last direct communication from Jeanne Lamon. It references an important event in our lives:
"What I wouldn’t give to sit in the audience for an OA performance of Armide...better yet, in the pit. That was truly a peak experience for me, that performance in Versailles. I will never forget it.
Thank you for all the wonderful memories.
Jeanne Lamon took part in Opera Atelier’s very first production at the Royal Ontario Museum as part of the Bach Tercentenary. OA was little more than a dream at the time, and we produced Bach’s Coffee Cantata in the lecture hall of the ROM. Jeanne, with her characteristic generosity, assembled a small ensemble to accompany us, and refused any remuneration herself.
Decades later, Jeanne and the entire Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra arrived in Paris on November 15, 2015 to play in Opera Atelier’s production of Lully’s Armide at the Royal Opera House/ Versailles. Tafelmusik arrived just days after the Bataclan Terrorist Attack which put major historic sites in Paris and Versailles into lockdown. But the Royal Opera House decided to proceed with our production as an act of solidarity - a refusal to be terrified in the face of terror.
The opportunity to perform Lully’s masterpiece about the Muslim Warrior Princess, Armide, and the Christian Knight, Renaud, was a life changing event - particularly, given the circumstances.
Upon our return to Toronto, we received the following email from Jeanne, and we have kept it ever since as a memento of an extraordinary shared experience. It seems a fitting tribute to Jeanne, to share this email with you in its entirety.
"Dear Marshall and Jeannette,
I want to thank you for this experience we just had. And to apologize for not doing so in person after the last performance. I was so choked up…closer to bawling…that I had to hide from the crowds. Something, or many things, about this touched me very deeply and whenever I think about Colin singing “Trop malheureuse Armide, hélas!”, or the dancing in the passacaille, or that amazing choir from Versailles, or ANY part of the 5th act…the list goes on…the tears well up.
What a gorgeous opera, what a gorgeous production! If I ever doubted that playing baroque music would help the world, I know now that it absolutely does in very deep ways.
Of all the horrors Isis represents, is it perhaps the scariest that they forbid all music? A whole society where music is banned cannot produce humane human beings. It’s impossible. But I digress.
Thank you, Marshall and Jeannette, for everything you’ve done to make this experience possible. I hope you have some time to come down from whatever planet this has put you on…
With love and gratitude,
We send love and support to Christina Mahler, and to the entire Tafelmusik family.
Top Image: Photo by Sian Richards.