Marguerite Pâquet

(Jeanne Mathilde) Marguerite Pâquet. Contralto, teacher, b Quebec City 10 Nov 1916, d there 29 Nov 1981; B MUS (Laval) 1939. She began to study voice with Sister Saint-Jean-de-l'Eucharistie at the Collège Jésus-Marie de Sillery and at the same time performed as a soloist at St-Dominique Church.

Pâquet, Marguerite

(Jeanne Mathilde) Marguerite Pâquet. Contralto, teacher, b Quebec City 10 Nov 1916, d there 29 Nov 1981; B MUS (Laval) 1939. She began to study voice with Sister Saint-Jean-de-l'Eucharistie at the Collège Jésus-Marie de Sillery and at the same time performed as a soloist at St-Dominique Church. She sang on radio stations CHRC and CKCV and took part in CBC programs. She studied later under Pauline Donalda in Montreal and in 1949 she sang Inez in Il Trovatore for the Opera Guild. That year also she obtained the LaFlèche Trophy awarded by Radiomonde.

With scholarships from the Quebec government 1952-4 and the French government 1954-5, Pâquet studied in Paris and began to develop her career throughout Europe and the USA. She continued voice training with Giuseppe Boralevi and Pierre Bernac and studied stage techniques with Georges Wague. In 1953 she began appearing regularly on French radio and TV and in 1954 sang Suzuki in Madama Butterfly at the Théâtre municipal de St-Brieuc.

She was one of the artists selected by Nadia Boulanger to perform under her direction during the marriage ceremony between Prince Rainier of Monaco and Grace Kelly; Boulanger later came to have an important influence on her career. She became a regular soloist for Boulanger and a member of a vocal quartet at the American Cons at Fontainebleau. For eight seasons she appeared regularly at the Menuhin Festivals in Bath and Gstaad. She also accompanied Boulanger to the USA and Canada in 1958, and also for three months in 1962 to perform Lili Boulanger's Psaume 130 in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh.

Pâquet was praised by the critic Maxime Belliard following a recital 23 Nov 1956 at the Salle Gaveau for her 'keen sense of colour and infinitely convincing diction' (Jours de Paris). She took part in the concerts of the Amis de la musique de chambre and sang Mrs Peachum in the French premiere of Britten's version of The Beggar's Opera and Pamela in Ivan Semenoff's opera Le Corsaire. She sang at various festivals in the provinces and was a soloist with choirs in Montpellier in Bach's St Matthew Passion, in Angers in Charpentier's Te Deum, and in Metz in Milhaud's Pacem in terris. In 1959 she went to South America with the Ensemble vocal et instrumental Roger Blanchard. Later she sang the role of Don Quixote's housekeeper in Man of la Mancha, a Jacques Brel production in which Brel took the leading role. The work was presented in Brussels in its European premiere 4 Oct 1968 and in Paris, and was recorded the same year (Barclay 80381).

Pâquet returned to Quebec City briefly in 1958, as soloist in Verdi's Requiem conducted by Wilfrid Pelletier, and again in 1959 when she recorded recitals for the CBC. When she was invited by Raoul Jobin in 1970 to teach singing at the CMQ, she once again took up residence in her native city.

With the Roger Blanchard ensemble Pâquet recorded 1956-66 Gluck's Orphée et Eurydice (2-Epic 6019) and 8 LPs of music of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance issued on Epic, Music Guild, Nonesuch and Archiv. She also performed for the recording Ceremonial Music of the French Baroque (1965?, Nonesuch H-71039).


Further Reading

  • Samson, Marc. 'Après 18 ans de carrière européenne,' Quebec City Le Soleil, 26 Jun 1971

    Bonenfant, Yolande. 'Marguerite Pâquet, artiste lyrique,' Personnalités féminines (Chicoutimi 1975)