Tourangeau, Huguette

(Marie Jeannine) Huguette Tourangeau. Mezzo-soprano, b Montreal 12 Aug 1940; deuxieme prix (CMM) 1964. She graduated in pedagogy and piano from the Marguerite-Bourgeoys College and in 1958 enrolled at the CMM for voice study with Ruzena Herlinger, repertoire with Otto-Werner Mueller, and declamation with Roy Royal. In 1962 she was soloist in Monteverdi's Vespro della Beata Vergine for the Montreal Festivals. In 1964 she made her debut as Mercédès in Carmen under Zubin Mehta, who encouraged her to take part in the Metropolitan Opera regional auditions. A finalist among the 5000 candidates, she won a $2000 prize from the Fisher Foundation and was engaged to sing 1964-5 with the Metropolitan National (touring) Company.

In the summer of 1964 Tourangeau sang Cherubino in The Marriage of Figaro under Richard Bonynge's direction at the Stratford Festival, and during the 1965-6 season she appeared in the title role of Carmen in 56 North American cities with the Metropolitan National Company and repeated the role with the New York City Opera. During Expo 67 she appeared as Siebel in Faust. Around that time she began to appear and record with Joan Sutherland and Bonynge. She was heard in Seattle (Mallika in Lakmé), London (Urbain in Les Huguenots), and San Franciso (Elisabetta in Maria Stuarda, Adalgisa in Norma, and Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus). At the Hamburg State Opera, in the title role (originally alto castrato) of Handel's Julius Caesar and then in Carmen, she was a marked success. In the fall of 1972 she appeared in Vancouver and Edmonton performances of Lucrezia Borgia.

On 28 Nov 1973 Tourangeau made her Metropolitan Opera debut as Nicklausse in The Tales of Hoffmann (the New York Times described her as 'splendid'). The same year, she sang Bertarido in Handel's Rodelinda at the Holland Festival. Tourangeau excels also in light opera, and in 1972, and again in 1973, with the Santa Fe Opera, she sang the title role of The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein. In June 1974 she joined Joan Sutherland in Australia for the inaugural season of the Sydney Opera House. Other important roles Tourangeau sang in the 1970s included Dorabella in the Metropolitan Opera's Così fan tutte (1975), Arsace in Semiramide for the Vancouver Opera (1975), Rosina in the Edmonton Opera's The Barber of Seville (1976), the title role in Carmen (16 performances) for the Sydney Opera (1977), and Elisabetta in Maria Stuarda at Covent Garden (1977, her debut there). In 1978 she sang Zerlina in Don Giovanni at the Metropolitan, in 1979 Orpheo in Orpheo ed Euridice at the Holland Festival, and Carmen with the Société lyrique d'Aubigny at the Grand Théâtre in Quebec City.

In 1977 Tourangeau became the first recipient of the Canadian Music Council's artist of the year award. Her voice is a flexible mezzo-soprano adaptable to the wide range of the mezzo repertoire, from Rossinian coloratura to the robust sound required by the trouser roles of German opera or the lyric mezzo of the French heroines. She began teaching voice in Montreal in 1984. Her husband, Barry Thompson, was manager of the Vancouver Opera 1975-8 and of the Edmonton Opera Association.

Huguette Tourangeau was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada in July, 1997.