My objective is perfection. I reach for it constantly, since I am certain never to attain it. What is important is to get closer each day.”

-Maurice Ravel

Pierrette Alarie (1921-2011)

2003 Lifetime Artistic Achievement (Classical Music)

Determination, discipline, ambition, and talent are the qualities that have led soprano Pierrette Alarie to a remarkable career in the world of opera.

Born in Montreal in 1921, Pierrette Alarie made her stage debut as an actress. Coming from a family of musicians, she began singing in 1940 while frequenting the studio of tenor Salvator Issaurel. There she met Léopold Simoneau of Quebec City, whom she would marry in 1946 and with whom she would go on to achieve numerous artistic successes.

In 1943 she continued her studies at the Curtis Institute of Philadelphia. Two years later, under the direction of celebrated conductor Bruno Walter, she made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera of New York in the role of Oscar in Verdi's A Masked Ball. In 1949, the Alarie-Simoneau couple joined the Opéra Comique and the Opéra de Paris. Madame Alarie's career took a new turn, and during the next ten years she was a featured performer at many leading European festivals.

Her career in North America is equally impressive. In 1954, she became one of the pioneers of Radio-Canada television through her contributions to the earliest televised classical concert programs. In 1959, she triumphed in the program L'Heure du concert in the North American premiere of La Voix humaine by Francis Poulenc.

Madame Alarie was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1967 and promoted to Companion in 1995. She is also a Chevalier of the Ordre des arts et des lettres de France and possesses an honorary doctorate from McGill University. Although she retired from the stage in 1970, Pierrette Alarie remains, for all Canadians, a grand figure of the operatic world, whose professionalism, kindness, generosity, and loyalty have touched all those who have known her.