Simoneau, Léopold

views updated

Simoneau, Léopold

Simoneau, Léopold, eminent Canadian tenor, pedagogue, and administrator; b. St.-Flavien, near Quebec City, May 3, 1916. He was a student of Emile Larochelle in Quebec City (1939–41) and of Salvator Issaurel in Montreal (1941–44). In 1941 he made his operatic debut as Hadji in Lakmé with the Variétés lyriques in Montreal. In 1943 he sang Don Curzio at the Montreal Festival. After winning the Prix Archambault in 1944, he studied with Paul Althouse in N.Y. (1945–47). He also pursued his career, winning extraordinary success as Ferrando and Tamino in Montreal in 1945. During this period, he also sang in the U.S. In 1949 he made his Paris debut as Mireille at the Opéra-Comique; he continued to sing there, as well as at the Opéra, until 1954. In 1953 he made his first appearance at Milan’s La Scala. In 1954 he sang with the Vienna State Opera on its visit to London. He soon acquired a notable reputation as a Mozartian. He also sang widely in the U.S. and Canada as a soloist with the leading orchs. and as a recitalist. On Oct. 18, 1963, he made his Metropolitan Opera debut in N.Y. as Ottavio, but remained on its roster for only that season. In 1964 he chose Ottavio as his farewell to the operatic stage at the Place de arts in Montreal. He sang for the last time in public as a soloist in Messiah with the Montreal Sym. Orch. on Nov. 24, 1970. From 1963 to 1967 he taught at the Montreal Cons. In 1967 he became deputy head of the music division of the Ministry of Cultural Affairs of Quebec. In 1971 he served as the first artistic director of the Opéra du Quebec. He taught at the San Francisco Cons. of Music from 1972, and also at the Banff School of Fine Arts from 1973 to 1976. In 1982 he settled in Victoria, British Columbia, and founded Canada Opera Piccola. In 1946 he married Pierrette Alari . In 1959 they were the first recipients of the Prix de musique Calixa-Lavallée. In 1971 he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. The French government made him an Officier of the Ordre des arts des lettres in 1990.


R. Maheu, Pierrette Alarle, L. S.: Deux voix, un art (Montreal, 1988).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

More From