Charles Goulet

Charles (Émile Jean Julien) Goulet. Baritone, choir conductor, teacher, impresario, administrator, b Liège 4 Apr 1902, naturalized Canadian 1921, d Montreal 12 Mar 1976; D MUS (Montreal) 1937. He arrived in Montreal with his parents in 1906 and at six began studying the violin with his uncle, J.-J.

Goulet, Charles

Charles (Émile Jean Julien) Goulet. Baritone, choir conductor, teacher, impresario, administrator, b Liège 4 Apr 1902, naturalized Canadian 1921, d Montreal 12 Mar 1976; D MUS (Montreal) 1937. He arrived in Montreal with his parents in 1906 and at six began studying the violin with his uncle, J.-J. Goulet, and solfège and theory with his father, Jean Goulet. At 10 he started lessons in piano with Armand Bluteau and organ with Marie-Louise Laurier and later he studied piano again with Arthur Letondal. He played the violin in several ensembles including the Cercle symphonique St-Pierre. In 1922 he began teaching violin at Laval College, St-Vincent-de-Paul, and conducted a choir at St-Pierre Church as well as singing there. In November 1921 he had sung in public for the first time and because of his success his father had him take voice lessons from Salvator Issaurel. He played the piano in hotels and restaurants and was chorus master of the Assn des chanteurs de Montréal and in the spring of 1923 he conducted an orchestra for the first time.

Goulet decided to continue his musical education in Belgium and studied voice with Jules Massart and harmony and piano with Fernand Mawet in Liège. He was chorus master of La Legia, a male choir of 300 voices, and conducted it to a first prize in a competition at Le Havre. He was engaged by the Liège Théâtre royal, where he made his debut 9 Dec 1923 as Bustamente in Massenet's La Navarraise. In two seasons there he sang various roles including Silvio in I Pagliacci and Brétigny in Manon and took part in several premieres such as Tiarko Richepin's L'Atlantide. He was heard in Lille, Roubaix, Spa, and Louvain, as well as in Holland and Luxembourg. His performance in The Tales of Hoffmann brought praise: 'M. Goulet was perfect as Spalanzani ... This intelligent young artist has first-rate qualities' (Liège Express, 1 Mar 1925).

Returning to Montreal, Goulet continued to develop his choral skills as choirmaster 1925-37 of St-Henri Church. In 1928 he founded the Disciples de Massenet, a mixed choir which he was to conduct for 35 years in many concerts and several recordings. At the same time he was the leading baritone 1927-34 of the Société canadienne d'opérette, making his debut in Joseph Szulc's Flup. He was choirmaster 1937-68 of St-Louis-de-France Church, succeeding Joseph Saucier, and he also conducted the Assn chorale St-Louis-de-France.

With the doctor Antonio Pager in 1930 Goulet founded the Concerts Goulet-Pager, which presented Montreal appearances by Gigli, the Don Cossacks, Nino Martini, Conchita Supervia, Ruth Slenczynska, the Kurt Joos and Serge Lifar ballets, Chaliapin, the French stars Lys Gauty and Guy Berry, and, in 1937, Igor Stravinsky and Samuel Dushkin. During that time, Goulet also founded the artists' agency Les Concerts canadiens, which he managed for three years.

Along with Les Disciples de Massenet, the great accomplishment of Goulet's career was the Variétés lyriques; with Lionel Daunais he was its co-founder and co-director 1936-55. When Les Disciples de Massenet won first prize in 1951 at the Chicagoland Music Festival, Goulet was awarded first prize for choir conducting. He was secretary 1957-76 for the Council of Arts of Greater Montreal, (see also Conseil des arts de la Communauté urbaine de Montréal) and a member in 1974 of the Jeannotte Commission, a MACQ group entrusted with studying the state of music and opera in Quebec. Several of his articles appeared in Le Guide Mont-Royal and L'Illustration (1939). His doctoral thesis was titled 'L'art du chant choral.' At his death, he had completed his autobiography, Sur la scène et dans la coulisse (Quebec City, 1981). The St-Jean Baptiste Society of Montreal awarded him its silver medal 'Bene merenti de patria.'