Planned Pink Floyd opera in Montreal born from time Roger Waters spit on fan there in 1977

– There are not many places where ’s is mentioned in the same breath as Mozart, Verdi and Puccini. But when it comes to adoration of and their progressive rock brethren, Montreal is no ordinary city.

On Thursday, the Opéra de Montréal announced that to mark the city’s 375th anniversary next year, it will stage the world premiere of Another Brick in , an opera based on the British group’s 1979 album .

The company’s upcoming season will include Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Verdi’s Aida and Puccini’s La Bohème, but at a news conference attended by Waters, the classical composers played second fiddle to the 72-year-old rocker.

Stage director Dominic Champagne called The Wall “one of the great works of the 20th century” and said working with Waters is “a dream come true.” Composer Julien Bilodeau called it an “enormous privilege” to be adapting the songs from The Wall, most of which were written by Waters, to the stage. “I am working with poetry,” he said.

The news conference was held at the Olympic Stadium, where Pink Floyd played a 1977 concert that became legendary not for the quality of the , marred by poor sound, but for the band’s reaction to the rowdy, 80,000-strong crowd. At the time, it was the largest audience ever to attend a stadium rock concert in — more people, even, than attended the Olympic closing ceremonies the year before.

Reviewers noted that the band stopped at one point and admonished the crowd for making too much noise as they tried to play a softer song. “Shut up and stop your bloody screaming,” one band member said, according to the Montreal Star’s account. What reviewers missed, however, was when an angry Waters spat on a fan trying to get on stage.

The incident so unsettled Waters that he later mused about building a wall between himself and the fans, a germ of an idea that two years later became The Wall.

Waters acknowledged that his memory is foggy of the July 1977 night when “I famously spat on one of you,” as he put it.

‘Some kid was scrambling up the front, and I think I spat on him. Who knows whether I did or not?’

“What I think happened was that I was pissed off, or disaffected about playing to a large number of people who, with all due respect to the population of Montreal, were completely f—ing drunk,” he said Thursday.

“Some kid was scrambling up the front, and I think I spat on him. Who knows whether I did or not?

“Very soon after whatever happened that day, I realized I was in the wrong place, at the wrong time, doing the wrong thing, and I needed to express the fact that I didn’t feel human, and I wanted to feel human.” The result was The Wall, “a show that involved building a huge wall between me and the people that I was trying to communicate with.”

He said he is pleased that a work that had its conception with his “appalling act” will now “find its way back home” to entertain opera-goers at Montreal’s Place des Arts in March 2017. He was initially dismissive of the idea, as, in his experience, rock and classical music do not mix well, but he said he was moved by what he has heard so far.

A Pink Floyd opera owing its creation to a spitting incident at the Olympic Stadium is an oddly fitting way for Montreal to mark its 375th anniversary.

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Montreal was the first North American city to embrace Pink Floyd, the beginning of a passionate love affair with English progressive rock. Throughout the ’70s and ’80s, Quebecers lapped up records by Genesis, King Crimson, Emerson Lake and Palmer and Yes, and packed arenas to see bands that played smaller clubs in other North American cities.

Even today, the music remains a fixture on the city’s main rock radio station, CHOM. Christian Émond, 45, an electrician at the Olympic Stadium, could not believe his ears when he heard Waters was appearing at a news conference just down the hall. “He’s my mentor. I do work as a sound engineer. I play music. I learned to play by listening to Pink Floyd,” he said. “People here have that music in their hearts. It’s rock ’n’ roll.”

Soon it will also be opera, performed in the 3,000-seat Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier concert hall. Tickets for some of the seven performances went on sale Thursday, ranging in price from $57.75 to $147.25, a far cry from the $10 fans forked out in 1977. As Montreal celebrates 375 years of history, the time the spit hit the fan will not be forgotten.

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Len Sidaway/Montreal GazetteLen Sidaway/Montreal GazetteThis Pink Floyd concert at Montreal's Olympic Stadium in 1977 would be the inspiration for the group's album The Wall.

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