Joan Patenaude-Yarnell. Soprano, b Ottawa 12 Sep 1941. She began her studies in Ottawa and was a winner at the Ottawa Music Festival in 1957. She then studied voice in Montreal with Raoul Jobin and Bernard Diamant and coached with Charles Reiner. She attended the École Vincent-D'Indy and, 1961-3, the McGill Opera Studio. She won first prize in the 1963 CBC Talent Festival and in 1964 was awarded a Metropolitan Opera scholarship which enabled her to study at the Kathryn Turney Long School in New York. She made her COC debut in 1964 as Micaela in Carmen (with Mignon Dunn and Jon Vickers) and subsequently sang in many productions for the Stratford Festival, the Edmonton Opera Association, and the Manitoba Opera Association, and for CBC radio and TV. She made her US debut in 1968 with the New York City Opera and remained with that company until 1970, returning in 1974 to sing Violetta in La Traviata. She then appeared with several US and European companies including the San Francisco Opera Spring Opera where she later sang in the world premiere of John Eaton's Cry of Clytemnestra in 1981 She also sang in the premiere, 8 Aug 1974 in Albany, NY, of José Raul Bernardo's La Niña, and in the North American premiere, in 1975 at Lincoln Center, New York, of Piccinni's Didon, revived for her by Newell Jenkins.
In 1976, for an concert program entitled Great Ladies of Shakespeare (which she had initiated in the USA and Canada in 1975), Patenaude commissioned from Harry Somers the 18-minute scena Love in Idleness, for soprano, piano, and stage props, based on the scene between Titania and Bottom in A Midsummer Night's Dream. She premiered the Somers 14 Sep 1976 in Wigmore Hall in London. She appeared with the Warsaw State Opera in 1977 and 1978, and sang the Countess in The Marriage of Figaro with the COC touring company in 1978. Sponsored by the US State Dept, Patenaude and her then accompanist, Mikael Eliasen, gave recitals throughout the Orient in 1979 and 1981. That year she toured in Australia where she sang Poulenc's La Voix humaine at the Sydney Opera House and was soloist under the baton of Sir Charles Mackerras, Barry Tuckwell and Daria Atlas.
In 1983 she appeared in Canada sponsored by the Canada Council Touring Office. Her performances of Poulenc's La Voix humaine in Edmonton and in his La Dame de Monte Carlo in Halifax, were recorded by the CBC. That same year she sang Alice Ford in Verdi's Falstaff at the Cleveland Opera House. In 1985 she performed the program 'Gershwin's Lady: A Tribute to Eva Gauthier 1885-1958' at New York University and for ARMuQ's annual conference in Montreal.
Patenaude has taught in the Opera Dept of the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia beginning in 1989, and during the summer has been a member of the voice faculty of a number of schools in the USA, Europe, and in Isreal. She has given master classes at various universities in North America and in Southeast Asia and has served on the juries of the George London Awards, the Canadian Music Competitions, and the S.C. Eckhardt-Gramatté Competition. Her article 'Training the young professional singer' appeared in Opera Canada (vol 29, Summer 1988). She began teaching privately in 1986 in New York, and her students have included Steffanie Pierce, the 1989 winner of the Montreal International Music Competition.
Following the death of her husband, the US baritone Bruce Yarnell, who died in a plane crash in 1973, she established the Bruce Yarnell Award.