Simoneau, Léopold

Léopold Simoneau, tenor, teacher, administrator (b at St-Flavien, near Québec City 3 May 1916, d at Victoria 24 Aug 2006). One of Canada's great 20th-century vocal performers, he was widely regarded as the most elegant Mozart tenor of his time noted for his clear and precise tone and for his interpretations of other lyric repertoire. In 1941, while studying with Salvator Issaurel, he made his debut with the Variétés lyriques. In 1943 he performed his first role in a Mozart opera, Basilio in Le Nozze di Figaro.

On various occasions (the last being in 1970), Simoneau sang with his wife, Pierrette ALARIE. He recorded all the major Mozart tenor roles, notably Così fan tutte with Herbert von Karajan. Named advisor to the Ministère des affaires culturelles du Québec, he prepared a report that led to the creation of the Opéra du Québec in 1971. That same year Simoneau was made an Officer of the Order of Canada, and in 1996 he was elevated to the rank of Companion. He was invested as an Officer of France's Ordre des arts and des lettres in 1990. He and Alarie were also active as teachers, notably at the BANFF CENTRE and the Canada Opera Piccola, which they founded in Victoria, BC in 1982. Simoneau and Alarie jointly received several awards and distinctions, including honorary doctorates from McGill University in 1994. Simoneau also received the Governor General's Performing Arts Award in 1992, and was made a Knight of the National Order of Québec in 1997. His essay L'Art du bel canto was published in Montréal in 1995.