This week’s OTF comes as many of my Quebec countrymen recover from their yearly celebrations of their National Holiday (June 24th). The title of today’s post, Québec sait chanter (loosely translated as Quebec can sing), refers to an old television show from my youth, where host Yoland Guérard would welcome great operatic voices, share anecdotes and would feature their voices in studio.

Guérard would often join forces with these singers because he was a fine bass himself! After briefly studying the bassoon at the Montreal Conservatory, he placed second at a radio song competition, and from there took vocal training seriously. In 1950, he won a scholarship and studied in Paris, soon making his stage debut in Lyon (as Méphisto in Faust) and singing numerous roles in light and grand opera in Europe and North America. Most noteworthy, he took over Enzo Pinza’s role in South Pacific when the show toured from 1954 to 1956.

There are a few YouTube clips featuring him, mostly late in his career; more as a variety singer and crooner-type rather than as a suave bass.

In French Canada’s “Golden Age of Television”, from say 1962 to 1975, he was mainly a television host and producer, which takes us back to our podcast, featuring singers that visited him on his show, as well as some of the emerging voices of today.

Names like Raoul Jobin (featured recently in our Roméo et Juliette OTF post), Robert Savoie, André Turp, Huguette Tourangeau and the husband and wife duo of Pierrette Alarie and Léopold Simoneau – most of whom featured today – had their turn on television with Mr. Guérard.

Young voices like Marianne Fiset, Manon Feubel, Karina Gauvin and Marie-Nicole Lemieux were either not yet born or in diapers when the show was on the air, but they all have certainly earned their place on the greatest concert and operatic stages.

This may be a footnote in history, but American bass George London was born in Montreal and only moved to the US permanently in his teens – so he deserves a spot on this all-Quebec roster. Because we featured her so many times before, I didn’t add Maureen Forrester to this montage.

The final selection – Act Five from the original French version of Verdi’s opera Don Carlos – has the distinction of having many of the principal roles sung by French Canadians – the aforementioned Savoie (not heard here because his character dies in the previous act), Turp, Rouleau and soprano Edith Tremblay (best remembered by some of us as the anthem singer at the old Colisée in Quebec City) are part of this BBC radio broadcast performance.

(I plan to offer the entire opera sometime this summer, so more on that one later).

Biography hyperlinks of featured artists embedded herein.

I think you will love this music too.

I Think You Will Love This Music Too – Montage #315
“Québec sait chanter”

Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904)
“Mesicku na nebi hlubokém” (Song to the Moon) from Rusalka, op. 114 [B.203]
Marianne Fiset
Orchestre de la Francophonie
Jean-Philippe Tremblay, conducting

Georges BIZET (1838-1875)
"Je dis qui rien ne m'épouvante" (Michela's aria) from Carmen (1873-74)
Manon Feubel
Orchestre Symphonique de Laval
Jacques Lacombe, conducting

Daniel-François-Esprit AUBER (1782-1871)
"Ah pour un jeune coeur... O tourment du veuvage" from Le cheval de bronze, S.25
Huguette Tourangeau
Orchestre de la Suisse Romande
Richard Bonynge, conducting

Léo DELIBES (1836-1891)
"Lakmé! Lakmé! C'est toi! / Ah! c'est l'amour endormi / Dans la forêt près de nous / Ô douce enchanteresse, parle, parle toujours!" from Lakmé (1883)
Pierrette Alarie & Leopold Simoneau
Orchestre des Concerts Lamoreux
Pierre Dervaux, conducting

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759)
"Streams of Pleaseure ever flowing / Thither let our Hearts aspire" from Theodora, HWV 68
Karina Gauvin & Marie-Nicole Lemieux
Il Complesso Barocco
Alan Curtis, conducting

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883)
"Leb wohl, du kühnes, herrliches Kind! / Der Augen leuchtendes Paar / Loge, hör! Lausche hieher!" (Wotan's Farewell) & Feuerzauber from Die Walküre, WWV 86b
George London
London Symphony Orchestra
Erich Leinsdorf, conducting

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)
Acte V from Don Carlos (Original French Version, 1867)
Joseph Rouleau, André Turp
Richard Van Allen, Edith Tremblay
Robert Lloyd
BBC Concert Orchestra
John Matheson, conducting

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