• 17 November 2021
  • Jacques Goudreau
  • News

Quebec and Canada have given the opera world several distinctive and exceptional talents who have excelled as leading artists of the international stage, while striving locally as agents of change in the democratization of their art. The following is a brief portrait of seven such Canadian artists: seven voices you will want to hear and get to know, the voices of prominent figures still very active on this country’s operatic scene.

Marie-Nicole Lemieux (born in 1975)

Marie-Nicole Lemieux’s deep, powerful, and robust voice is easy to recognize. In 2000, this Quebec singer was awarded First Prize at the prestigious Queen Elisabeth Competition in Belgium, opening the doors to an international career. The same year, she made her OSM debut and began forging a bond with the Orchestra that continues to deepen to this day. Lemieux was Artist-in-Residence with the OSM during the 2020–2021 season. An artist equally proficient in opera and art song with piano or orchestra, her rich, expressive performances are greatly enjoyed by audiences wherever she goes.

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Étienne Dupuis (born in 1979)

Photo by Julien Faugère

Quebec baritone Étienne Dupuis devotes himself entirely to opera and currently leads an international career. After completing his studies at McGill University and serving a residency with the Atelier lyrique de l’Opéra de Montréal until 2005, he rapidly went on to conquer audiences in major venues throughout the world, from the Met in New York to the Opéra de Paris and, naturally, with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal. Recently, he performed in an Opéra de Montréal production of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin alongside Australian soprano Nicole Car, his life partner. Dupuis’ lyric baritone voice has deepened over the years, enabling him to embrace roles in the Verdi repertoire.

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Julie Boulianne (born in 1978)

Photo by Andréanne Gauthier

Julie Boulianne’s performances are internationally acclaimed. Originally from Dolbeau-Mistassini, she completed studies at The Juilliard School and McGill University. Her agile, expressive mezzo-soprano voice with its rich and colourful timbre suits a very broad repertoire, with special affinities for Mozart, Rossini, Handel, or Berlioz. She has sung many times with the OSM and performs throughout the world, both in recital and on the opera stage.

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Barbara Hannigan (born in 1971)

Photo by Marco Borggreve

A native of Nova Scotia, Barbara Hannigan is an internationally renowned conductor and soprano who trained in Toronto, Banff, Orford, as well as in The Hague, Netherlands. She is regarded as a specialist of the contemporary repertoire, having premiered more than 80 new works during her career. Her performances often show her in extravagant costumes and stage designs, and are known to be invested with great vocal and physical power.

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Karina Gauvin (born in 1966)

A regular performer with the OSM, soprano Karina Gauvin is one of Canada’s highest-profile artists. Born in Repentigny, she went on to study in Toronto, Glasgow, and Montreal, and won Second Prize at the OSM Competition. Her numerous recordings and awards—Opus Awards, the Virginia Parker Prize, the Diapason d’or, and several others—and countless international engagements are the product of a diligent work ethic and extraordinary vocal skills. Primarily known for her performances of Baroque works, Karina Gauvin is equally gifted for music from the 18th and 19th centuries. Her innate sense of theatricality lends her tragic roles and interpretations remarkable depth.

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Gordon Bintner (born in 1988)

Originally from Regina, bass-baritone Gordon Bintner became fascinated with singing from a very young age, deciding at 18 to move to Montreal to study at McGill University. His passion and discipline led him to the top step of the winner’s podium at the 2011 OSM Competition, propelling him to a career throughout Canada and the world. Gordon Bintner also possesses a physical stage presence that enables him to convey great charisma, poise, musicality and expression, making him a much sought-after performer in opera productions.

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Michèle Losier (born in 1978)

Mezzo-soprano Michèle Losier’s radiant, captivating voice has opened the doors to major venues throughout Europe and Canada. Acclaimed as a “vocal treasure,” her impressive career reflects her great versatility, both in recital and on the opera stage. Born in Montreal, she spent her childhood in Saint-Isidore, New Brunswick, before returning to study in her native city. She won Grand Prizes in both the Canadian Music Competition (2001) and the Canadian Jeunes ambassadeurs lyriques Competition (2004). Also in 2004, Michèle Losier was awarded Second Prize at the OSM Competition.

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Many of these leading figures of the opera stage have an OSM Competition prize to their credit. Dedicated this year to the voice, the OSM Competition, now it its 82nd edition, is held from September 13 to November 17 in collaboration with ICI Musique. As part of the first prize, ICI Musique will grant a professional audio recording in one of Radio-Canada’s studios and the broadcast on ICI Musique.