Karina Gauvin | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Karina Gauvin

Karina Gauvin. Soprano, b Repentigny, Que, 1966? Raised in Toronto by musical parents, Karina Gauvin began singing at an early age.

Karina Gauvin

Karina Gauvin. Soprano, b Repentigny, Que, 1966? Raised in Toronto by musical parents, Karina Gauvin began singing at an early age. She joined the Canadian Children's Opera Chorus at age eight, singing for seven years under conductor Derek Holman, and trained with Canadian mezzo-soprano Catherine Robbin in her teens. She undertook a degree in art history at McGill University before enrolling in the vocal program at the Conservatoire de musique et d'art dramatique du Québec (Montreal) in the late 1980s, where she studied with Marie Daveluy.

Prizes and Early Performances

Following graduation from the Conservatoire in the early 1990s, Gauvin spent a year studying with Pamela Bowden at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. She rose to national fame after winning the Maggie Teyte Prize Competition (Royal Opera House, Covent Garden) in 1992 and the lieder and audience prizes in Holland's International Vocal Competition 's-Hertogenbosch in 1994. The following year, Gauvin made her debut in Purcell's Fairy Queen at the prestigious Aldeburgh Festival and was the recipient of the Canada Council's Virginia Parker Prize. In 1995 she was also awarded first prize in the CBC Radio National Competition for Young Performers, and in 2013, her album Prima Donna was awarded the Juno for Classical Album of the Year, Vocal or Choral Performance

Opera and Recital Work

Gauvin quickly gained a reputation as an interpreter of Baroque and Classical opera. Her voice has been described as "pure and free of mannerisms and idiosyncrasies, ideal in the classical repertoire" (Opera Canada, 2002). In 2002 she performed the challenging title role in Handel's Alcina with the Montpellier Opera, under the direction of Christophe Rousset. Her success in that role led to a series of debut performances, including the lead in Johann Georg Conradi's opera Ariadne at the Boston Early Music Festival (BEMF) in 2003, a performance that was later recorded and nominated for a Grammy Award in 2006; and as Venus in the 2007 North American premiere of Lully's Psyché with the BEMF, which was also nominated for a Grammy. Other significant roles have included Iole in Handel's Hercules with the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, Eurydice in Gluck's Orphée et Eurydice with Les Violons du Roy, and Manlio in Vivaldi's Tito Manlio with l'Accademia Bizantina.

An active recitalist and oratorio specialist, Gauvin has appeared at London's Royal Opera House and Bishopsgate Hall, the Glenn Gould Studio, Roy Thomson Hall, and at New York's Lincoln Centre and 92nd Street Y. Recognized for mastering the works of Handel and Vivaldi, she also performs the music of Purcell, Porpora, Bach, Mozart, and Bizet, as well as twentieth-century composers Debussy, Poulenc, Britten, Berio, and Canteloube. Gauvin made her Carnegie Hall debut 19 Jan 2003 in Bach's Mass in B Minor under Peter Schreier, and in May 2006 she performed Mozart's Requiem and Bach's Magnificat with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Helmuth Rilling. Gauvin made her New York Philharmonic debut in December 2010 in performances of Handel's Messiah.

Gauvin has appeared with major orchestras across North America and Europe. A performance of Handel's Messiah with Les Violons du Roy and conductor Bernard Labadie in the late 1990s launched one of her most fruitful partnerships. Their collaborations include several recordings, a North American tour in 2005, and a performance of Messiah with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in 2004. She has also performed with the Toronto, Montreal, and Quebec symphony orchestras; Orchestre métropolitain, Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, the National Arts Centre Orchestra, the CBC Radio Orchestra; the Chicago, Philadelphia, Indianapolis, and San Francisco symphonies; the Los Angeles Philharmonic; and Musica Antiqua Köln.


Gauvin is highly regarded as a recording artist, and has more than 20 titles to her credit. In 2000 Gauvin garnered Opus and Chamber Music America awards for Fête galante, a CD collaboration with Marc-André Hamelin. Gauvin has won two Junos for her collaborations with Les Violons du Roy, including awards for best classical album in 2001 and 2003, for Handel's Apollo e Dafne - Silete venti and Mozart's Requiem respectively. In 2011 she received a Juno nomination for classical album of the year for Les Illuminations.

Selected Discography

Vivaldi. Motets for soprano. Les Chambristes de Ville-Marie, Gauthier conductor. 1997. Analekta FL 2 3099

Fête galante. Hamelin piano. [2000]. Riche Lieu RIC 2 9964

Handel. Apollo e Dafne - Silete venti. Russell Braun baritone, Les Violons du Roy, Labadie conductor. 2000. Dorian Recordings CD-90288

Mozart. Requiem. Les Violons du Roy, Labadie conductor. 2001. Dorian Recordings DOR-90310

Cantaloube. Chants d'Auvergne. Canadian Chamber Ensemble, Armenian conductor. 2002. CBC Records SMCD 5224

Conradi. Ariadne. Barbara Borden, Ellen Hargis sopranos; Matthew White countertenor; James Taylor, Julian Podger, Jan Kobow tenors; Marek Rzepka bass; Orchestra and Chorus of the Boston Early Music Festival. 2005. CPO 3492594

Lully. Psyché. Carolyn Sampson, Karina Gauvin sopranos; Aaron Sheehan tenor; Orchestra and Chorus of the Boston Early Music Festival. 2007. CPO 8171766

Britten. Les Illuminations. Les Violons du Roy, Zeitouni conductor. 2010. Atma Classique ACD22601

Further Reading

External Links