It was on the evening of June 30 that the steel bird officially spread its wings for a sound and light epic that will be presented until September 4 at the Massif de Charlevoix. Aboard the station’s chairlifts, transformed into a huge nocturnal carousel, spectators of the Flight of the Mechanical Bird flew over the forest at the height of the peaks on a 6 km course, unique in the world.
The thick fog of the last few days has dissipated in time for this premiere evening. The fantastic journey opens under a starry sky, at the top of the mountain, where the “nest” of the Iron Bird lies. The descent begins at dusk, aboard an aerial gondola from which the spectacular landscapes of this corner of the country pass by, made up of mountains, forests and waters as big as the sea. confuse with the stars and hordes of fireflies.
In weightlessness, transported by the dreamlike music of Philippe Brault, which magnifies the experience and the rhythm, our bird flies towards the river. A few sound effects – creaks and animal cries – accompany this flight up the mountainside which begins gently. The first thrill of this 10-minute segment takes place at the foot of the mountain, as the beast plunges into the St. Lawrence, grazing fish and cetaceans in the light.
From the base of the mountain, spectators continue the journey on foot, lantern in hand, along lively paths that lead to the second portion of the journey, twice as long as the first. It is in this rise that most of the paintings of light, projected on the sky or on the ground, are concentrated and that the “oh!” and the “ah!” » on board the chairlift
The concept, deployed over almost an hour, took shape in the imagination of a child, that of the lighting designer Martin Labrecque, co-creator and light designer of The Flight of the Mechanical Bird, as well as more than 200 other productions for theater and Cirque du Soleil. During a day of skiing, the son remarked to his father that the ski lift was similar to a merry-go-round. It was enough to make the idea germinate.
“I thought it would be nice to do this at night and light up the forest to use this infrastructure over four seasons,” says the creator. The project was brought to the discussion table of Atelier Occhio, which brings together four stage artisans and Cirque collaborators: Stéphane Mongeau, Yves Aucoin, Olivier Kemeid and Martin Labrecque.
As the experience was not offered anywhere else, the collective quickly sought to assess the feasibility of its project. Three years ago, he contacted the owner of Le Massif and co-founder of Cirque du Soleil, Daniel Gauthier, to get his opinion. You couldn’t knock on a better door: the Massif was looking for entertainment to enhance its summer offer following the inauguration of Club Med at the foot of the mountain. The idea was adopted.
Quickly, the composer Philippe Brault joined the creative process. His enveloping music is essential to the magic of this long immersive and contemplative sequence shot, where the viewer is taken care of from start to finish. “We were inspired by the beauty of the place and the particularities of the terrain to create. It was new for everyone and we didn’t know how our respective approaches could evolve in this environment,” notes Martin Labrecque.
The terrain is steep, subject to bad weather, vast: daunting challenges for any creator, despite the years of experience brought together in Atelier Occhio.
The spectators enter into this magic which alternates between darkness and dazzling, the effects of surprise and appeasement.
The show is weather dependent. However, light rain, clouds or fog would in no way have been obstacles for the mechanical beast, which only heavy rain, thunderstorms or strong winds prevent from splitting the sky, specifies the lighting designer. Rain or drizzle also modulate the light differently to create unique experiences every evening.
The route can be approached, as desired, from the top of the mountain or its base. This last option is probably more interesting to soak up the atmosphere from the start, since the descent allows you to downshift gradually. This segment, less spectacular, however seems incomplete compared to the rise where certain tables overlap less skillfully on the sonic level. The experience is uneven and the plot, not very present despite the simplicity of the story – that of a bird which leaves to fish for the food that it will bring back to its chicks. Adults will have to surrender candidly to the moment, which their children will have no difficulty in doing.
We understand that this scene of several kilometers in nature is not the easiest to dress and that it will be refined over time. The Flight of the Mechanical Bird is nevertheless a must during a journey in Charlevoix. It is already announced that the magic will be renewed in the summer of 2024. Since some time slots are sold out this season, we recommend booking your tickets in advance on the site, where we also offer a package including a three-course dinner at the Camp Boule mountain bar which sets the table for a memorable evening.