When we were in grade school my sisters and I travelled from St Sauveur to this convent to do our end of year music exams. It was and still is a foreboding place. Nuns dressed in black delighted in rapping errant digits with long wooden pointers. Then it was ‘guess the interval?’ The fun part. In 2005, the U of Montreal bought the property from the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, sank $6 million into it and then just as the university was running out of money along comes developer Kétania who wants the convent for condos. That’ll be some laundering op as I expect each unit will have its own washer/dryer.
The people of Outremont are livid. I bet they’re sorry they didn’t opt out of amalgamation. There’s kind of a pathetic story at cyberpresse.ca where the Heritage Montreal people have asked the Catanians (politely) to please respect the Quebec patrimony of the convent interiors. Among its historically important features is the colonnaded chapel painted by reknown church and theatre decorator Guido Nincheri. (Hey boys, dis is gonna make a really nice whorehouse, with pole dancers.) Don’t get me wrong, some of my best friends are —- (& danseuses de genoux) and I adore opera. And what if Catania inadvertently cuts down the surrounding forest, oops! they will needing a place to park the hummers. Also, its handy to the cemeteries, for those future residents who run afoul of the mob. But the apologists (university, city etc) for Catania say some of its historic features will inevitably be lost in the conversion, after all the developers aren’t art historians. Really? I googled Catania, its a city in Sicily and it still has its 18th c. monastery. I doubt the Catanians would stand idly by if their monastery were threatened. Here’s a smug blurb about it from their tourism site : sounds lovely.
The Monastery – The present building dates back to the 1700s. The impressive doorway on the left gives access to a courtyard from where the east and south wings of the building, designed by Antonino Amato, can be admired. The opulent decoration recalls that of the contemporary Palazzo Biscari (see above). The monastery now houses the Faculty of Literature and retains of its original structure a nice oval-shaped refectory, now main lecture-hall. Come to Catania
In other news, some of us went to Place des Arts last night to see Verdi’s ‘Simon Boccanegra’ the people’s doge of Genoa. The mayor should go, that is if he can find the entrance. The entire block around PDA (not to mention the inside renos) is all dug-up and fenced-off making it fairly inaccessable. The opera was excellent but the hall was half-full. This city needs a new doge.
P.S. Next time around Quebecers should consider voting for the PQ. They are less corrupt than the Libs. Property prices would come down and people could afford the Catania condos.