OP3302. COLAS ET COLINETTE (Quesnel), w.Pierre Hétu Cond. CBC Symphony Orchestra; Léopold Simoneau, Pierrette Alarie, Claude Corbeil & Claude Létourneau. (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL 33-718, Recorded in la Salle Claude Champagne at l'Ecole Vincent d'Indy, Montréal, from Private Collection of Pierrette Alarie. [A charming 18th Century operetta, beautifully recorded!] Transfers by Yves St Laurent.
"Joseph Quesnel was a French Canadian composer, poet, and playwright. Among his works were two operas, COLAS ET COLINETTE and LUCAS ET CÉCILE; the former is considered to be the first Canadian opera.
In the autumn of 1779 Quesnel embarked on the French privateer Espoir for North America. According to tradition he was in command of this vessel which was carrying war supplies and munitions to help the American colonies in their revolt against Britain. Whatever the case, the ship was captured off Newfoundland by the Royal Navy and taken to Halifax, N.S. Quesnel avoided imprisonment but had to remain in British North America until the end of hostilities. He arrived in Montréal bearing a safe conduct issued by Governor Haldimand."
- John E. Hare, Dictionary of Canadian Biography
"Léopold Simoneau was the epitome of the French tenor, meaning that he had a light voice, beautiful diction and a mastery of musical nuance….By the time he made his Met début as Don Ottavio in Mozart’s DON GIOVANNI, in 1963, Mr Simoneau was acknowledged as one of the world’s leading performers of the role….After initial voice studies in Québec City, he moved to Montréal…where he met Ms Alarie….they were married in 1946…."
- Anne Midgette, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 29 Aug., 2006
“Pierrette Alarie-Simoneau sang in UN BALLO IN MASCHERA, among other operas at the Metropolitan Opera in the 1940s. A coloratura whose light, lyric voice was often described as silvery or crystalline, Mrs. Alarie-Simoneau was known for her dynamic stage presence and refined musical interpretations. She and her husband, the renowned lyric tenor Léopold Simoneau, often performed together and were long considered the first couple of Canadian opera. Mrs. Alarie-Simoneau, who before her marriage in 1946 was billed as Pierrette Alarie, was a winner of the Metropolitan Opera Auditions of the Air in 1945. She made her Met début on 8 Dec., 1945, as Oscar in Verdi’s UN BALLO IN MASCHERA. She remained at the Met for three seasons, appearing 26 times between 1945 and 1948. Her other rôles there included Xenia in Mussorgsky’s BORIS GODUNOV, Blonde in Mozart’s ABDUCTION FROM THE SERAGLIO and Olympia in Offenbach’s LES CONTES d’HOFMANN. Reviewing her Olympia in THE NEW YORK TIMES in 1946, Olin Downes wrote, ‘She has a brilliant coloratura, and good stage business in the representation of the stiff gestures of the mechanistic doll’.
Mrs. Alarie-Simoneau also sang with the New York Philharmonic, the Paris Opéra-Comique and the Salzburg, Aix-en-Provence and Glyndebourne Festivals. Her rôles over the years included Rosina in Rossini’s BARBER OF SEVILLE and the title rôles in Delibes’ LAKMÉ, and LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR.
Pierrette Marguerite Alarie was born in Montréal on 9 Nov., 1921. Her father, Sylva, was a choirmaster; her mother, Amanda, a singer and actress. Pierrette began acting on local stages as a child and as a teenager sang popular songs on Canadian radio. She later studied at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia with the distinguished soprano Elisabeth Schumann. After retiring from the opera and concert stages, Mrs. Alarie-Simoneau worked as an opera director and teacher. In 1982 she and her husband Leopold Simoneau founded Canada Opera Piccola, a training company in Victoria.”
- Margalit Fox, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 19 July, 2011