Malenfant, Anna

Anna Malenfant. Contralto, teacher, composer (under the name of Marie Lebrun), b Shediac, near Moncton, NB, 16 Oct 1905, d Montreal 15 Jun 1988; honorary D MUS (Moncton) 1975. She began her singing career in Moncton in Gilbert & Sullivan's The Mikado. A bursary took her in 1924 to Boston to study with Rose Stewart at the New England Cons, then to Paris to work 1925-6 with Félia Litvinne, and to Naples for lessons 1927-9 with Massimiliano Perilli. Returning to North America she sang for a year for radio station WITC, Hartford, Conn, under the name of Louise Malmont. She continued her studies 1930-9 in Montreal with Salvator Issaurel. She sang at the Windsor Hotel in 1930 and, with Ludovic Huot and Lionel Daunais, founded the Trio lyrique in 1932. Active in public concerts and on radio, she was a soloist 4 Feb 1935 with the CSM and later appeared with that orchestra in Verdi's Requiem, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, Debussy's La Damoiselle élue, and other works.

With the Variétés lyriques her first assignment (1937) was the title role in Carmen, opposite Raoul Jobin. The following year she sang Charlotte in Werther, with Jacques Gérard. In 1943 she was Marina in Boris Godunov, with Ezio Pinza and artists from the Metropolitan Opera at the St-Denis Theatre, and in 1944 she performed for the Ladies' Morning Musical Club. From then on she devoted her time mainly to recital work and teaching. In 1958 a Canada Council grant enabled her to go to Rome to perfect her knowledge of vocal technique with Maria Canelli and Tito Schipa. Her voice may be heard in the NFB production Chantons maintenant. Among her pupils are Constance Lambert and Colette Merola. She has composed songs inspired by her native region, some of which were published under a pseudonym (Huit Chants acadiens de Marie Lebrun, Archambault 1955). The following comment appeared in La Presse (Montreal, 31 Oct 1934): 'The vocal authority of this singer, who sings as naturally as others breathe, is generally acknowledged. Her voice, which is of unusual beauty and amplitude, is used with extraordinary accuracy and authority.' Her collection of about 900 vocal scores, and of her compositions, is held at the BN du Q.