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Micheline Tessier (Soprano)

Born: July 21, 1932 - Paris, France
Died: February 25, 2006 - Montreal, Canada

The French/Canadian Soprano, teacher, administrator, (Hélène) Micheline Tessier, was born in Paris of Canadian parents; lauréat voice (AMQ) 1950, BES (Quebec Ministry of Education) 1970. She studied voice with Roger Filiatrault at the École normale de musique in Westmount (1945-1949) and privately (1949-1953). With a Sarah Fischer Concerts Scholarship (1951), and grants from the Amis de l'art (1952) and the Quebec government (1955, 1957), she continued her training in New York (1953-1957), mainly at Mannes College with Martial Singher (voice), Paul Ulanowsky (repertoire), and Otto Guth and Rudolph Fellner (repertoire and opera). She was a member of the Juilliard Opera Theatre.

During the summers of 1955 and 1956 with the Marlboro Festival in Vermont, Micheline Tessier performed cantatas by Rameau and Bach and the soprano part in Arnold Schoenberg's Quartet No. 2, and sang Lieder of Adolf Busch with Rudolf Serkin at the piano. She was a finalist in the Metropolitan Opera Auditions of the air, and also, by unanimous consent of the jury, received the first-prize medal at the 1957 Geneva International Competition for Musical Performers. That summer she sang Elvira in 10 performances of Don Giovanni for the Montreal Festivals, and in 1958 she appeared as Nanetta in Falstaff for the Opera Guild.

While under contract to the Detmold Landestheater in Germany (1959-1960), Micheline Tessier's roles included Violetta in La Traviata, Dorotha in Weinberger's Schwanda, and Karolka in Janáček's Jenufa. She sang in other German cities, especially Hannover where she was acclaimed for her performance in La Traviata: 'Micheline Tessier captivated the audience...the evening's success was due to her convincing artistry' (Hannoversche Presse, February 1960).

On her return to Montreal, Micheline Tessier worked with Bernard Diamant, made her debut at the Canadian Opera Company (Micaela in Carmen, 1961), gave recitals 1962-1963 for Community Concerts, and performed on CBC radio and TV. With the tenor Jean-Louis Pellerin and the bass Gaston Germain she formed the Trio canadien Bel Canto which toured from 1963 to 1965 for the Jeunesses musicales of Canada (Youth and Music Canada). She sang leading roles in TV productions of Igor Stravinsky's Pulcinella, Menotti's The Telephone, and Leonard Bernstein's Trouble in Tahiti.

Soloist with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra in 1958 and 1963, the Orchestre Symphonique de Québec, the McGill Chamber Orchestra, and the National Arts Centre Orchestra, Micheline Tessier also sang in 1965 with the Bordeaux Symphony Orchestra. At the Théâtre lyrique de Nouvelle-France she appeared with great success as Musetta in La Bohème (1962), Tosca (1963), Cio-Cio-San in Madama Butterfly (1964), and Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte (1970). She sang Eudoxie alongside Richard Tucker in a 1964 Carnegie Hall concert performance of Halévy's La Juive. In December 1968 she went to the USSR, sang Tosca and Cio-Cio-San in the opera houses of Odessa, Tbilisi, and Yerevan, and gave a recital of French songs on Moscow TV.

By 1971 Micheline Tessier was concentrating primarily on teaching voice and stage techniques. She taught from 1967 to 1969 at the École normale and from 1969 to 1974 at the University of Quebec, where she staged chamber operas by Schubert, Chabrier, Roussel, and Delibes. After teaching from 1974 to 1976 at the Lionel-Groulx Cegep, she was head of the music department of the Marguerite-Bourgeoys College from 1976 to 1981. She was then actively involved within the Jeunesses musicales of Canada in Montreal as director general from 1981 to 1985, and artistic director from 1985 to 1990. She was a member of the board of directors of the Canadian Music Council from 1977 to 1982 and its president from 1982 to 1983 and also president from 1983 to 1984 of the Canadian Conference of the Arts. In 1960 she married Gilles Potvin.


Source: The Encyclopedia of Music in Canada 2006 Historica Foundation of Canada
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (October 2004, March 2009)

Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works




Mireille Lagacé


BWV Anh. 21



Anna Magdalena Notenbüchlein

Links to other Sites

Tessier, Micheline (The Canadian Encyclopedia) [English/French]


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