2004 Lifetime Artistic Achievement (Classical Music)
Internationally renowned bass Joseph Rouleau has sung on the world's most prestigious stages. Charismatic and visionary, he has graced the Quebecois operatic arts with his unshakable commitment, teaching, and firm resolve to bring the message of music to youth.
Joseph Rouleau was born in Matane, Quebec, in 1929. After following classical studies atCollège Jean de Brébeuf, he enrolled in political science at Université de Montréal. In 1947, he studied voice with Édouard Wooley and Albert Cornellier. In 1949, he won the Prix Archambault and became the first singing student to be admitted to the Conservatoire de musique du Québec in Montréal. In 1952, he pursued voice studies in Milan with Mario Basiola and Antonio Narducci.
In 1955, he won the New Orleans Experimental Theatre of America competition and made his debut in the United States in the role of Colline (La Bohème by Puccini). In 1956, he joined the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden (London) where, over 30 years, he took part in 850 performances in over 48 operas.
He won international claim with the greatest orchestras, in festivals throughout the world and with celebrated directors such as Visconti, Ronconi, and Chéreau. He has sung with, among others, Pavarotti, Domingo, and Maria Callas. He participated in three grand tours of the Soviet Union, singing the parts of Boris Godounov and Philippe II (Don Carlos), Basilio (The Barber of Seville), and Mephistopheles (Faust).
His impressive discography includes Semiramide (Rossini), Boris Godounov (Mussorgsky), Romeo and Juliet (Gounod), L'Enfance du Christ (Berlioz), Grands Airs d'opéra français, Renard (Stravinsky), Aïda(Verdi), II Trovatore (Verdi), Don Carlos (Verdi), and the songs of Félix Leclerc. He has performed on television and radio, and recorded several video performances including L'Africaine(Meyerbeer), Don Carlos (Verdi), and Who'sAfraid of Opera?
Despite his remarkable international career, he has remained deeply connected to Canada, always striving to promote the lyric arts in this country. Since 1989, he has embraced the cause of Jeunesses Musicales du Canada, as president of the board of directors. He was a key contributor to the creation of the Orchestre Métropolitain du Grand Montréal and the Opéra de Montréal, and to the establishment of the Centre Pierre-Péladeau. As voice professor at Université du Québec à Montréal, from 1980 to 1998, he founded an opera workshop and shared with young artists his knowledge of the stage and of repertoire. This year, Université du Québec à Montréal bestowed upon him, on the occasion of his 75th anniversary, the status of professor emeritus.
Among the prizes and distinctions awarded Joseph Rouleau are the Prix Calixa-Lavallée, Officer of the Order of Canada, a silver medal at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, a 100th anniversary medal of the Metropolitan Opera (New York), a Félix as best artist of the year (ADISQ), the Prix Denise Pelletier for the performing arts, a member of the Panthéon canadien de l'art lyrique, Grand Officier de l' Ordre du Québec, a Prix Opus, and a Félix for the recording of Boris Godounov (ADISQ).