Suzie LeBlanc

Suzie LeBlanc. Soprano, teacher, actress, harpsichordist, born Edmunston, NB, 27 Oct 1961; honorary D LL (Mount Allison) 2009, honorary D CL (King’s College University, Halifax) 2008.  Suzie LeBlanc is of Acadian heritage, but grew up listening to and practicing classical music.  Influenced by her mother, soprano Marie-Germaine LeBlanc, she took lessons in piano and flute. LeBlanc's early performance experiences included singing in the choir Les Jeunes Chanteurs d'Acadie, under the direction of Sister Lorette Gallant.

Early years

In 1976 the LeBlanc family moved to Montreal where Suzie first heard baroque music during a concert at the Studio de Musique Ancienne de Montreal (SMAM). LeBlanc cites this experience as central to her decision to begin her post-secondary education at CEGEP St-Laurent, Montreal, where she studied harpsichord, with singing as a second subject (1979-81). Before finishing her degree, LeBlanc was encouraged by SMAM’s director to begin performing as a vocalist. She later joined the women’s trio Musica Secreta on their tour of Western Canada. During the tour, LeBlanc was offered a position singing soprano in a professional ensemble in Vancouver and so began what LeBlanc calls her “education on stage.” After three years, she moved to Europe to study voice and was eventually offered a singing part with The Consort Musicke for eight months, replacing British soprano, Emma Kirkby. In 1989 and 1990, LeBlanc recorded albums with The Consorte Musicke, including the music of De Wert and Monteverdi.

As a recording artist

After studying and performing in Europe, Suzie LeBlanc began to establish herself internationally as a specialist in baroque and classical repertoire, particularly in the realm of early music recordings. The light, sweet quality of her voice fits the stylistic qualities of early music singing, yet maintains a distinctive quality; “LeBlanc’s is a pure, clear vocal instrument, but used with an expressive delicacy that redeems it from being the overly chaste, even sterile timbre affected by the descendants of the Emma Kirkby school of singing” (Opera Canada, 2000).

She has contributed to an impressive number of recordings, from Sartorio to Messiaen, in collaboration with ensembles including Tafelmusik, The Purcell Quartet, New World Consort and Les Voix humaines. She has recorded many unpublished works, including Chants d’Acadie: Tout passé, a collection of mainly Acadian songs, which LeBlanc collected in Newfoundland, New Brunswick and PEI. Her journey to collect and record this album was captured in the documentary Suzie LeBlanc: A Musical Quest. Her album La Mer Jolie, Chants d’Acadie celebrates the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the French settlers. In the early 2000s, LeBlanc became involved with the Elizabeth Bishop Society of Nova Scotia, most notably in the creation of the Centenary Festival and the Elizabeth Bishop Legacy Recording. The legacy recording commissioned a number of Canadian composers (including Christos Hatzis, Emily Doolittle) to set Bishop’s poems to music. The final recording was completed in November 2012.

As a performer

Throughout her career, LeBlanc has appeared in recital with many leading early music ensembles and performers, including numerous collaborations with Canadian tenor Daniel Taylor. In 2000 she performed the title role opposite Taylor in L’Opera de Montreal's production of L’Incoronazione di Poppea and in the 2009-2010 season, they toured the United States and France with the Theatre of Early Music. She has performed at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, London’s Wigmore Hall, and the Konzerthaus in Vienna.

Other notable performances of LeBlanc’s include Monteverdi’s Orfeo in celebration of the University of Alberta’s centenary (2008) and the same year, a performance of Quebec singer-songwriter’s Gilles Vigneault’s Grand Messe during Quebec City’s 400th anniversary year.

As an opera singer she has performed for De Nederlandse Opera, Festival de Beaune, Opéra de Montréal, the Boston Early Music Festival, Tanglewood, Festival Vancouver, and Early Music Vancouver.

As an actress, LeBlanc played the lead character Elisabethin in the award-winning film Lost Song (2008), directed by Rodrigue Jean. She was also featured in a film version of Bach’s Coffee Cantata and More Than a Thousand Kisses (2001; Robert Chesterman, director).

As a Teacher

LeBlanc has taught master classes at Guildhall School of Music and Drama (1995), Bremen Musikschule in Germany (1995-7), and Baroque performance practice at Musikhögskolan i Malmö (1993-7) in Sweden. She has also taught at the University of Montréal (2000-9), McGill University (2008-9), and the Conservatoire de musique de Montréal (2009). In 2005 she became the artistic director of Le Nouvel Opéra.

Awards

In 2000, LeBlanc won the Opus Prize for album of the year for Star of the Magi, a collection of medieval and renaissance Christmas songs she recorded with Daniel Taylor. In review of the album, Classicstoday.com said the duo was a “marvel.” (2000) LeBlanc’s album featuring the music of Messiaen, Chants de terre et de ciel, won the 2009 Opus Prize for best recording of the year in contemporary music.

Discography

For a complete list of recordings, please visit Suzie LeBlanc’s website linked in the Links to Other Sites below.