Drop Down Menu

Operas On The Great Organ

(version française ici)



Original adaptations for organ played by two organists
Notre-Dame-de-la-Victoire Church (LÉVIS, Québec-Canada)


LE NOZZE DI FIGARO, KV 492 (1786) / The Marriage of Figaro
  1. Aria - Non piu, andraï, farfallone amoroso - Act I - Figaro [4’16]
      "You will not go there any more, amorous butterfly / Fluttering around inside,
      night and day / Disturbing the sleep of beauties"
  2. Aria : Voi che sapete che cosa è amor / Act II - Cherubino [2’50]
      "You, my ladies, who know what love is made of, see if it is in my heart?"

DIE ZAUBERFLÖTE / The Magic Flute, KV 620 (1791)
  3. Ouverture [6’53]
  4. Aria no 20 : Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen, wünscht Papageno sich - Papageno [1’56]
      "Papageno’s wish: a wife or a young lover"
      organ and celesta (variant /variation 1)
  5. Aria no 2 : Der Vogelfänger bin ich ja - Papageno [1’55]
      "I am the birdcatcher and I am indeed, always happy. Whoopie!"
  6. Aria no 20 : Ein Mädchen… / organ and celesta (variation 2) - Papageno [1’52]
  7. Aria no 17 : Ach, ich fühl’s, es ist verschwunden, - Pamina [3’23]
      "Alas, I feel that it has disappeared /Forever gone - love’s happiness!"
  8. Aria no 20 : Ein Mädchen… / organ and celesta (variation 3) - Papageno [1’57]

FANTASY ON THEMES FROM BISET'S OPERA CARMEN for organ with two organists (2011)
  9. Ouverture – air du Toréador [2’29]
10. Bugle-call and fife with a Chorus of street children [2’47]
      A military march is heard in the distance
11. Leitmotiv suggesting death [0’31]
      Running throughout the opera
12. Habanera* [1’43]
      Carmen with the cigarette factory girls (sopranos) , young men (tenors), workmen (basses)
      "Love is like a wild bird That none can ever hope to tame / And it is useless to chase it, if it won’t play the game"
13. Leitmotiv suggesting death (second time) [0’31]
14. My mother I behold! / Duett : Don José / Michaela (Act I) [2’24]
      "My mother I behold! / Again, I see my village home! O happy memories of old,
      Sweet recollections of my homeland… You fill my heart with strength and courage"
15. Seguidilla - Carmen & Don José [3’30]
      "Near to the walls of Sevilla and with my friend Lillas Pastia /
      I’ll soon dance the gay Seguidilla and drink sweet Manzanilla /
      But if alone, what can I do? For true joy begins when there are two;
      and so, to keep me company, I’ll bring my dear lover along with me!"
16. Alternatively [3’19]
      A) Card Song Acte III - Carmen
           "In vain, to evade the answer that we dare not hear / So mix the cards we try /
           And all is to no avail, for their meaning still rings clear / And they do never lie.
           If your page on high is a happy one/ Then shuffle and cut with no fear /
           The card you draw will shine joy on you./ But if you must die and fate has chosen you, /
           Then that fearful name will by twenty times appear: Death!"
      B) Toreador Song Acte III - Escamillo
           "I offer you a toast, Señors, for Toreros are like soldiers /
           They understand that combat is their pleasure / And it is a labour of love
17. Toreador Song with Chorus [1’07]
      "Toreador! On guard! And think that perhaps dark eyes are on you and that love awaits."
18. This flower that you threw to me / Don José (Act II) [1’38]
      "This flower that you tossed to me, I kept it still while in jail, and still the flower, though dead and dry
      A sweet perfume did it exhale; and, through many a silent hour / On eye lids closed, lay that flower /
      Whose rare perfume was my delight; / As saw I your face at dead of night! /
      Whence I began to curse your name, lo hate you then exclaim:
      So why thus must it be, that she be sent by Destiny!"
19. Leitmotiv suggesting death (Third time) [0’34]
20. Finale - Gypsy Song / (Act II) - Carmen, Frasquita, Mercedes [4’51]
      "Metallic sounds of sistrum bars, soon brought the Gitanes to their feet /
      lNow rattling, ringing tambourines / And twanging guitars now did meet /
      As hands compelled to play again / The same strange song, the same refrain."

castañets played by Charles-Alexis CÔTÉ
TOTAL PLAYING TIME (including pauses) 50’39”


This is the second in the series of recordings by organists, Claude and Robert Patrick Girard whose aim is to popularize the ‘King of Instruments’, the great organ. In this CD, we are treated to delightful arrangements from Mozart’s ‘The Magic Flute’ and Bizet’s ‘Carmen’ played by the two organists, together on one instrument.

There are many similarities between the organ and the symphony orchestra. One is the ability to sustain long notes or chords as do the woodwind and brass sections of the orchestra. The other is the comparable range of textures and timbres that the two share. Without attempting to compete with the scope and scale of the symphony orchestra which, in fact, served as inspiration for this project, the pieces presented here offer a new perception of these classics from the opera repertoire while at the same time, allowing the listener to rediscover the majesty of the great organ.

After the release in 2007 of our first CD in this successful series, Mozart… permettez-nous, we were encouraged to pursue other transcriptions from the opera repertoire. Needless to say, writing for organ requires a whole set of guidelines that go far beyond simply choosing this or that ‘organ stop’ to get the desired effect or register. One of the main obstacles was the elimination or obfuscation of extraneous, mechanical sounds as well as certain textures which, although characteristic of the organ, did not always correspond to what was required by the mood of the piece. A great deal of creativity and invention was often necessary in order to find a work around for these problems. For example, volume compensation, continuous re-working of the harmony and melody amongst the three manuals to either increase or decrease transparency. Another technique employed, was the selective use of pedals to reinforce certain accents and cadences as well as other compositional devices that allowed us to achieve the desired effect.

While working on the arrangements presented in this recording, one of our main preoccupations was to ensure that the original form and indications in the orchestral score. While this respect for authenticity was maintained in the Mozart, the very nature of Bizet’s Carmen Fantasy suggests that a certain amount of originality and improvisational freedom is permitted in relation to Bizet’s indications in the score.

In our version of the Carmen Fantasy, we deliberately strayed from the original to take a fresh look at Bizet’s famous opera. This extensive work, which is conceived for four hands and extends to over 800 bars, utilizes the well-known melodies in an innovative manner.

Rather than presenting a musical fresco of the popular arias in the standard way, we preferred to recreate the different moods of the work by inserting original material that evokes the three principal themes of the Fantasy. The famous Children’s Chorus along with the Habañera and the Seguidilla serve to create initially, a festive mood. The second and probably the most important of the three, is the underlying current of desire and love that is alluded to by the love songs of Carmen and Don Jose. Finally, the theme of death is created by a leitmotiv that appears three times, ominously breaking the continuity of the opera and seems to hover over Carmen, Don Jose, and the toreador in the arena. It is worth noting that this menacing leitmotiv is enhanced by the use of the magnificent reed stops on the Casavant organ at Notre-Dame-de-la-Victoire de Lévis Church.

Robert Patrick Girard, producer


CLAUDE GIRARD, the youngest member of the Girard family followed in the family tradition and succeeded his own father as organist at St-Patrice de Rivière-du-Loup Church. In fact, various members of the family have held this position uninterrupted since 1927. Claude is a well-known soloist and has given hundreds of recitals and has been heard frequently on Radio-Canada, Canada’s national French language broadcaster. He has recorded extensively and his latest CD is comprised exclusively of works of Marcel Dupré. As well as his activities as an organist, he is also a highly esteemed accompanist and teacher. Studies: His principal teachers were Adrien Girard (piano and organ) Antoine Bouchard and Antoine Reboulot, (M.Mus in performance, Laval University).

The producer and organist, ROBERT PATRICK GIRARD has been the resident organist at St. Dominique’s Church in Quebec City for many years. He has performed extensively in North America and Europe and has given hundreds of concerts on both sides of the Atlantic. He has often recorded for Radio-Canada and for many years, taught in the Quebec Conservatory System. This recording is the thirteenth in a long series that dates back to 1968. Studies: his father, Adrien Girard and his uncle, Willie Girard, Claude Lavoie, Conservatoire de Québec 1er prix; Marie-Claire Alain in Paris (3 years) and Anton Heiller, Hochschule für Musik, Vienna (Concert Diploma).

In 2011, during the first Quebec City Opera Festival, the Girard brothers presented the same programme as heard on this recording. Their recital, to which they gave the title, ‘Amours, délices et orgue’ was performed to great popular acclaim, several times throughout the festival.

L’orgue Notre-Dame-de-la-Victoire de Lévis

History and modifications of the Notre-Dame-de-la-Victoire organ: Mitchell, (1870), Casavant, Opus 475, (1912), Casavant, Opus 3803, (2000). In the August 8, 1870 issue of the Courrier du Canada, the Montreal organist, Paul Letondal described this instrument as being, “the nicest in all of British North America”. The organ was twice modified. In 1912, Casavant installed the original Mitchell pipe works on a new electro-pneumatic action and modernized the tonal structure into a more orchestral design. In 2000, a subsequent restoration saw the complete tonal revision of the instrument which included the meticulous restoration of the 35 Mitchell stops according to the original aesthetics and the installation of a new mechanical key action.


For more information, please visit, Organs in Quebec at:

Digital recording and editing
Philippe Gagné

Annie Gauthier

Pierre Girard

Pierre Grondines, musicologist
France Simard – Opernschule Hochschule für Musik Stuttgart
Leslie Snider – Conservatoire de musique de Québec

English Translation
Leslie Snider

Assistant to Organists
Lyne Lavigueur

Robert Patrick Girard

Arrangements, adaptations, compositions
Robert Patrick Girard (SOCAN)

We would like to thank the following people and organisations for their collaboration and support: The Church of Notre-Dame-de-la Victoire de Lévis, Casavant Frères, organ builders, The Conservatoire de Music of Québec who graciously loaned us their celesta, Charles-Alexis Côté , percussionist (Habanera) the many people who gave their support.

All adaptations, arrangements and original compositions are by Robert Patrick GIRARD
Robert Patrick Girard © 2012 All rights reserved - Made in Canada

Where to purchase this CD

service@rsbimedia.com 1-800 361 8153
Plus facilement : www.espace-emergence.com : par la suite mettre le nom de l’album ou des artistes.
ESPACE ÉMERGENCE offers i-TUNE service in over 50 countries.
Individual tracks in MP3 format are available for 0.99$ each or you may purchase the entire CD in digital format for $15.99.
You may also order a hard copy of the CD for : $19.99$ (plus shipping and handling)

At the rectory of Notre-Dame-de-la-Victoire Church in Lévis QC
18, Notre-Dame à Lévis (near the Alphonse Desjardins Historical House)
Tél. 418 837 8813

Also available at:
- Boutique souvenir de la Basilique de Québec
- SAGUENAY / LAC ST-JEAN (Conservatoire de musique – au profit de la Fondation du Conservatoire à Saguenay (418 698-3505 poste 239)
- Musée national (Plaines d’Abraham)
- Rivière-du-Loup (contacter Claude Girard 418 862 2334)


We would like to express our sincere gratitude and appreciation to our friends and supporters whose passion and unwavering enthusiasm for music and culture and whose generous financial support guaranteed the success of this project.

Jean-Noël Tremblay - Lévis
Johanne Blais - Ottawa
Pierre Rousseau LL.B., MBA, avocat - Québec
(également un excellent organiste)
Florence et Hubert Laforge - Ste-Foy
Claude Gagnon, honorable juge à la retraite - Québec
son épouse Yvonne Tremblay-Gagnon, artiste peintre - Québec
L’abbé Antoine Bouchard - Lévis
(conseiller très important lors de la restauration de l’orgue de Notre-Dame de Lévis en 2000)
E. Noël Spinelli, C.M.Q. - Lachine
Cécile Bédard, professeur de chant - Québec
Peter et Richard Simons, La Maison Simons - Québec
Le support d’un ami et conseiller indéfectible: Jacques Boucher - Montréal
Merci tout à fait spécial à Mikeline Raymond, une bonne visionnaire

Photos prises lors des lancements:

De gauche à droite: Leslie Snider (traduction anglaise, professeur de violoncelle au Conservatoire de Québec),
Régis Rousseau (directeur du Conservatoire du Saguenay et directeur des études des Conservatoires du Québec),
Claude Girard, organiste, Annie Gauthier, graphiste chez Simons et Robert Patrick Girard, organiste.

De gauche à droite: Martin Chouinard, homme d'affaires de la Rive-sud,
Robert Patrick Girard, organiste, Jean-François Lapointe, baryton
et Sophie-Marie Martel, soprano.