120 Songs for the Marquis de Sade with music by Peter Hannan and libretto by Peter Hinton premiered in Vancouver in March 2002.  It was produced by Modern Baroque Opera. Musical direction was by Marc Destrube, with stage direction by Peter Hinton and Kate Hutchinson.

In October 2013, Vancouver New Music produced a concert of excerpts from operas they had been involved with producing. This is the excerpt from 120 Songs for the Marquis de Sade. The excerpts are introduced by James Fagan Tait, who provides a rather thorough synopsis of the opera as he goes. Music Director is Marguerite Witvoet.

120 Songs for the Marquis de Sade remount

120 Songs for the Marquis de Sade is an opera written in 2001 by Peter Hannan (music) and Peter Hinton (words). It was produced, with much accompanying notoriety and publicity in 2002 by Modern Baroque Opera , having received the Alcan Performing Arts award for production at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre. 

We are interested in pursuing a remount at this point.

Sade struck us as a character whose story would lend itself to operatic treatment. He was a person of wild extremes of personal behaviour, whose life story and work we still find shocking, almost 200 years after his death. 

We wanted to find out what made Sade so problematic for his time, and what makes him continue to be an irritant to popular thought today. We wanted not to present him as a sexy older roue who was simply censored by an earlier more puritanical age, but investigate the paradoxical threat and necessity,when politic meets sexuality and society attempts to legislate free thought and desire. 

The form that we arrived at-120 songs-was inspired by the encyclopedists of the l8th century and specifically Sade's 120 Days of Sodom. 



The Next Step

The work that was produced in 2002 was written very quickly- from conception to opening night was less than 2 years. We were very inspired, and produced a work that had a definite raw energy. The work seemed to have huge potential that simply needs refining.

At this point, we are interested in making significant revisions to the work that will clarify, refine, and improve the work dramatically and musically.

The first production that we did had a cast of 12 singers and a small role for a child. The band was 13 players. We are planning to reduce the band size to 7 or possibly 8 players (string quintet, keyboard, and electric guitar with possible percussion) and possibly reduce the cast size by a couple of singers.

We are now working towards a remount of the piece

Peter Hannan bio

Hannan has completed more than 60 commissions, both acoustic and electronic for widely diverse musical situations, including pieces for Vancouver Symphony; Icebreaker London; Stratford Festival and operas for National Arts Centre; Modern Baroque Opera; Vancouver New Music.

His most recent recording Rethink Forever won “Best Classical Recording” at the 2011 Western Canada Music Awards. He also has many other CD releases with positive Canadian and international press and web reviews, and numerous radio recordings - CBC Radio; BBC Radio; WDR Koln; Radio Bremen; Radio France; NOS Radio, Holland.

Peter Hinton bio

Peter Hinton is one of English Canada’s most respected directors, dramaturges and playwrights. He was Artistic Director of English Theatre at the National Arts Centre of Canada  2005-2012. Previous positions include: Associate Director at Theatre Passe Muraille (1987-1990), Associate Director and Head of New Play Development at The Canadian Stage Company (1990-1993), Artistic Director of Vancouver’s Playwright’s Theatre Centre (1996-1997) Dramaturge in Residence at Playwrights Workshop Montreal (1998-2003) and Associate Artist with The Stratford Shakespeare Festival (2004-2007). He has directed over 100 productions of new plays, classical texts and operas and is proud to have developed new works by John Mighton, Marie Clements, Blake Brooker, Normand Chaurette, Allen Cole, Margaret Atwood, Gloria Montero and Greg MacArthur to name a few. 

At the National Arts Centre, he is proud to have presented the first all Canadian Season in the history of the company, (2006-2007) and the following year Mr. Hinton partnered with Britain's Royal Shakespeare Company, to produce the world premiere of Margaret Atwood's stage adaptation of her novel, The Penelopiad. This collaboration marked the first partnership between the Royal Shakespeare Company and a Canadian Theatre company.

Mr. Hinton was named an officer of the Order of Canada in 2009.



The following is material from the original production in 2002. 





Excerpts from the CBC radio recording of 120 Songs for the Marquis de Sade 

1 Compendium 

2 Switching parts 

3 Marseilles 

4 Orgy 

5 Poison 

6 Forget and deliver me 

7 Some wounds 

8 Montreuil's appeal 

9 Dancing craze 

  Michael Douglas Jones as the Marquis de Sade

Michael Douglas Jones as the Marquis de Sade

  Sade confronts Pelagie, Madame de Sade, played by Phoebe MacRae

Sade confronts Pelagie, Madame de Sade, played by Phoebe MacRae



  Karin Konoval as Madame de Montreuil  ,   Sade's mother-in-law

Karin Konoval as Madame de MontreuilSade's mother-in-law

  Christine Duncan as Sade's mother 

Christine Duncan as Sade's mother 

  Lee Aaron as Madame Fleurieu and Laurence Cotton as Coulmier 

Lee Aaron as Madame Fleurieu and Laurence Cotton as Coulmier 

  Daniel Gundlach as  Breteuil

Daniel Gundlach as  Breteuil

  A tender moment between Pelagie, and the now immensely fat Sade. 

A tender moment between Pelagie, and the now immensely fat Sade.