The Atelier lyrique de l'Opéra de Montréal was founded in 1984 with the goal of ensuring successive new generations of Canadian opera artists by offering a high-calibre training program combined with professional activities that serve as a practical introduction to opera-related careers. The program is open to some ten singers, vocal coaches and, on occasion, stage directors. Artists are selected in pan-Canadian auditions held each year in Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver. The internship lasts from one to three years. Since it was founded, the Atelier lyrique has welcomed one hundred and seventy-five young Canadian artists. Several of them now lead careers on national and/or international stages, most notably, Phillip Addis (2002-2005), Julie Boulianne (2003-2006), Renaud Doucet (1996-1998), Etienne Dupuis (2002-2005), Manon Feubel (1990-1992), Marianne Fiset (2005-2007), Gordon Gietz (1989-1991), Marie-Josée Lord (1999-2002), Michèle Losier (2003-2005), Annamaria Popescu (1987-1990), Oriol Tomas (2007-2010), etc.
From the rehearsal studio to the limelight
Artists accepted into the Atelier lyrique undergo intense training and acquire extensive experience in the profession while taking advantage of musical, theatrical, and linguistic resources offered in collaboration with the Opéra de Montréal. Training is centred on individual and group rehearsals led by renowned coaches. Each week, the young artists work with trainers—rehearsal pianists, voice teachers, vocal coaches, or conductors—for an average of thirty hours. This year, trainers Claude Webster (Head Vocal Coach), Lyne Fortin, Martin Dubé, Esther Gonthier, Mathieu Lussier, Michael McMahon, Marie-Ève Scarfone, and Alain Trudel will be working with the Atelier members. In addition, each year, members benefit from master classes, held privately or before an audience, led by guest opera artists such as Liz Upchurch, Tom Diamond, François LeRoux, John Norris, Oriol Tomas, David Lefkowich, Lena Hellström-Färnlöf, etc. Classes in French, English, and Italian conversation are also offered. The Atelier works with a kinesiologist and a specialist in the Alexander Technique to ensure its artists are in good health and good physical shape, and also offers career management seminars.
In order to familiarize themselves with the workings of the profession, the young artists of the Atelier lyrique take part in Opéra de Montréal productions. In doing so, not only do they learn the great works of the operatic repertoire, they also get the chance to make their professional debut in roles suited to their ability. At the same time, they become more at ease with working their way into the professional milieu. Each year, opera fans are thereby given the pleasure of discovering Atelier lyrique members in various productions. In addition, in order to give members the opportunity to appear on stage as often as possible, the Atelier collaborates with a number of professional orchestras; for example, this season: the McGill Chamber Orchestra (La voix humaine / Trouble in Tahiti), Les Violons du Roy (Zémire et Azor), and the Orchestre symphonique de Laval and Orchestre symphonique de l’Estuaire (Messiah). In 2014-2015, the Atelier will again be involved in the creation of a new work, as it begins workshopping a new opera by composer Tim Brady and librettist Guillaume Corbeil, which will be premiered in collaboration with the Société de musique contemporaine du Québec in 2016-2017, under the direction of Walter Boudreau. The Atelier is also presenting a series of concerts on tour in the more intimate surroundings of the City of Montreal's Maisons de la culture, namely performances of its show Les amoureux célèbres, written and directed by Marie-Lou Dion, which will be performed ten times as part of a Conseil des Arts de Montréal tour. Lastly, the Atelier arranges auditions with directors of opera companies—allowing members to gain some recognition in the artistic community—along with meetings and seminars with resource people who provide advice on career management.
For the 2014-2015 season, 13 young artists are taking part in the Atelier lyrique program:
Alexandra Beley, mezzo-soprano (1st year); France Bellemare, soprano (2nd year); Jacques-Olivier Chartier, tenor (1st year); Pasquale D’Alessio, tenor (1st year); Maxime Dubé-Malenfant, pianist (1st year); Christopher Dunham, baritone (1st year); Cécile Muhire, soprano (1st year); Aaron Sheppard, tenor (2nd year); Magali Simard-Galdès, soprano (1st year); Pascale Spinney, mezzo-soprano (1st year); Florie Valiquette, soprano (3rd year); Josh Whelan, baritone (2nd year); Dylan Wright, bass (1st year).
Canadian or Landed Immigrant candidates* who have completed their studies, and are pursuing a career in opera are selected through auditions held in Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver. The final selection takes place in Montreal. The standards are high, as the artists will be called on to take part in Opéra de Montréal productions as of the first year of their internship. When selecting candidates of comparable quality, the administration favours candidates who are age 28 or under. In-depth training in vocal technique and solfeggio is essential for singers. The young artists are remunerated over the course of their internship and benefit from the training free of charge. Occasional financial aid is available to help them in their efforts to begin their careers. Information on national auditions and a registration form can be downloaded from the website.
* Candidates must be Canadians Citizens or have Landed Immigrant status at the time of application.
2013-2014: Hänsel et Gretel (Humperdinck)
2012-2013 : The Old Maid and the Thief / Amahl and the Night Visitors (Menotti)
2011-2012 : Rossini et ses muses
2010-2011 : The Consul (Menotti)
2009-2010 : Nelligan (Gagnon)
2008-2009 : Cosi fan tutte (Mozart)
2007-2008 : L’heure espagnole (Ravel) / Le secret de Suzanne (Wolf-Ferrari)
2006-2007 : Il mondo della luna (Haydn)
2005-2006 : The Turn of the Screw (Britten)
2004-2005 : Didon et Énée (Purcell)
2004-2005 : L'Arche (Isabelle Panneton)
2003-2004 : Elia (Silvio Palmieri)
2003-2004 : La bohème (Puccini)
2002-2003 : The Magic Flute (Mozart)
2001-2002 : Amelia Goes to the Ball (Menotti)
2000-2001 : Il segreto di Susanna (Wolf-Ferrari)
1999-2002 : Opera (excerpts)
1998-1999 : Soirée à l'opérette
1997-1998 : Soirée à l'opérette
1996-1997 : Un amour fou pour l'opéra
1995-1996 : Operafollia
1994-1995 : Opera (excerpts)
1993-1994 : Resurrezione (Handel), The Telephone (Menotti), The Old Maid and the Thief (Menotti)
1992-1993 : La cantate du café (Bach), Il segreto di Susanna (Wolf-Ferrari)
Marie Maous, program coordinator
514.985.2222, extension 2271