Michelle Rossignol

Michelle Rossignol, actor, director, artistic director (born 4 February 1940 in Montreal, QC; died 18 May 2022 in Montreal, QC). Michelle Rossignol studied theatre at Théâtre du nouveau monde and with Tania Balachova in Paris during the 1950s. A brilliant career covering a half-century established her as a major actor in Québec theatre, television and film. This spirited and energetic performer, known for her piercing gaze and leonine hair, appeared in numerous works on stage before turning to directing. She headed the Théâtre d'Aujourd'hui from 1988 to 1998.

Rossignol lent her unique, deep and sharp-edged voice, and her talent, to many new works. In Marcel Dubé's Les Beaux Dimanches (O Day of Rest and Gladness) (Comédie canadienne, 1965), she played Dominique, a modern daughter wanting an abortion, with her bourgeois parents portrayed by Janine Sutto and Jean Duceppe. She championed the revolutionary work of poet Claude Gauvreau in les oranges sont vertes (TNM, 1972), directed by Jean-Pierre Ronfard; she shone in Michel Tremblay's Sainte-Carmen de la Main (Compagnie Jean Duceppe, 1976) in the role of Carmen, a western singer who wishes to liberate herself; and in its television adaptation directed by André Brassard in 1980).

Rossignol's association with new works did not hinder her from performing that of standard authors: Racine, Claudel, Genet, Chekhov and others. She directed a dozen or so plays including Jovette Marchessault's Saga of the Wet Hens (TNM, 1981). After teaching at the National Theatre School (1971-86), she became head of the Theatre Division of the Canada Council (1986-88). Her successful transition to administration at the Théâtre d'Aujourd'hui ended when she took up the leading role in the premiere of Carole Fréchette's La Peau d'Élisa. She appeared again in Tout comme elle, which united 50 actors on stage, directed by Brigitte Haentjens (Sibyllines, 2006).

From the 1950s on, she participated in numerous TV dramas and series, and her character Manouche in Germaine Guèvremont's Le Survenant (1955-60) merited her a performance prize. She also performed on television, including in Un simple soldat (1957) by Marcel Dubé. After several years of absence from TV, she returned in the role of Véronique O'Neil in Lise Payette's successful television drama Des dames de cœur (1986-89), appearing with the same character in Un signe de feu (1989-91). She shot some 20 movies, notably with Arthur Lamothe (Poussière sur la ville, 1965), the Tremblay-Brassard duo, Jean-Claude Labrecque, Thomas Vamos, Jean-Claude Lord, Jean Beaudin and Anne-Claire Poirier (La Quarantaine, 1982).

Rossignol won the prix Victor-Morin from the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste (1982), the Trophée des Coopérants, the Prix Gascon-Thomas from the National Theatre School (1992), and was made an Officer of the Order of Canada and a Chevalier of the Ordre national du Québec (2001).

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