Jean-Philippe Fortier-Lazure: Jeunes Ambassadeur Lyriques
by Adrian Rodriguez
“Just do it” is the secret mantra of Jean-Philippe Fortier Lazure. The Ontario-born tenor uses the watchword before going on stage. As he sees it, the key to his success has been to keep a positive mindset. “I’m always a bit nervous about making mistakes, but the truth is, we singers are often over-prepared! There’s nothing wrong with showing people your best. If you’re the best person in the room, you’ll win, and if you’re not the best, you won’t. You just have to do your best!”
His positive philosophy of just plain going for it has paid good dividends. He collected second prize at the Canadian Opera Company (COC) studio ensemble competition in 2013 and won a Governor General’s Performing Arts Award in 2014, allowing him to work under the tutelage of legendary Canadian bass Joseph Rouleau. Last year he was selected as an ambassador of singing at the 2016 Jeunes ambassadeurs lyriques (JAL). The chosen ambassadors are introduced to managers and agents from opera houses around the world and are provided with financial and logistic support to help them launch their careers.
In 2016, JAL made it possible for Fortier-Lazure to participate in the International Christmas Opera Forum in Minsk (Belarus), held at the National Academic Bolshoi Opera and Ballet Theatre. “It was an incredible experience. I had singers at my side that were from all over the world: Italy, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Russia, America, and so on. They were all invited from their respective opera houses or directly by the Minsk Opera House to perform in this Gala and represent their countries. It was quite a special evening!”
A special relationship
Fortier-Lazure’s professional relationship with Joseph Rouleau began in 2012. The Canadian opera veteran was engaged to sing the role of Arkel in the production of Pélleas et Mélisande by the Atelier Lyrique de l’Université de Montréal. Rouleau acted as a mentor to all the young singers. Jean-Philippe was performing his first major operatic role, Pélleas, alongside the older man, who played his grandfather! The most important lesson he learned from Rouleau was during rehearsals. “He would always arrive 15 minutes early to revise his score. Even if he had sung that opera hundreds of times, he would arrive early!”
This mentorship dynamic has continued off-stage and they remain in touch. “Joseph Rouleau has been a special person in my life. I won the Governor General’s Performing Arts Mentorship Award in 2014. During that summer, Mr. Rouleau and I spent two weeks working together every day to prepare the repertoire for my upcoming contract with the Canadian Opera Company. We’d work from 9 am until about 1 pm. Afterwards we’d go for lunch and have long conversations about his career, his successful colleagues’ best practices, and all the incredible adventures he’s experienced on stage. I have someone who I can speak freely to about my career and ask questions in complete confidence, because he wants me to succeed.”