Corona Serenades: Q&A with Valérie Poisson, soprano (Canada)

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Meet Valérie Poisson, soprano (Canada), singer for Corona Serenades


Valérie Poisson is a lyric soprano from Quebec. She has been seen in Don Giovanni in Italy at the Lucca Festival with the AEDO orchestra, where she presented a furious, dejected, sensitive and loving Elvira. Born to psychologists and acquainted with tragedy, she is able to revive strong emotions in a healthy way. Valérie perfected her artistry in Germany and Italy with the support of scholarships and foundations. She has worked with such renowned teachers as Dorothy Stone, Valentin Lanzrein and Thomas Osuga, among others, from Japan and the United States. At Orford she has studied baroque music with Marie-Natalie Lacourisère and Suzie Leblanc. Valérie was trained at recognized institutions including the University of Ottawa, the Université de Montréal and Concordia and holds bachelor’s degrees in singing and composition. She has performed contemporary works by Frédéric Chiasson with saxophonist Louis-Philippe Bonin and is currently studying with Christiane Riel in repertoire ranging from baroque to contemporary, including the aria “Comme autrefois” from Les pêcheurs de perles. Valérie is particularly fond of bel canto, but her next assignment, the operetta Ora, is a contemporary work dating from 2016.

How has the health crisis affected you?

Financially, it has destablized my budget. I even changed cities. But psychologically, it has allowed me to clarify my personal goals, my various aspirations and the direction of my career. I am someone who has a lot of ideas and projects, so despite the fear and the uncertainties, I am taking advantage of this moment to better define my personal goals. The many hours of travel I saved also allow me to make time for myself. Obviously, you have to discipline yourself and think about how to get the most out of the situation. I consider myself privileged because I do not have the physical and psychological fatigue experienced by many people working in the health field. In my own way, while continuing my artistic work, I wish to find ways to contribute during this pandemic, such as with a project for a cooperative or for an organization or the homeless.

What are your five favorite operas and singers?

This question is difficult to answer, because having an interest in composition as well as music history, I do not consider that there is an opera that I would listen to more than another. The truth is that I like to listen to all types of opera, whether it is an much-performed opera like Carmen or something less known. I would say that for style, I prefer anything romantic. Bel canto writing like Bellini’s touches me particularly and I feel freer in this idiom. Vocally, I also try to specialize in French operas, but those after the baroque era. I also like the color and depth of German and the Slavic languages. I greatly admire the vocal virtuosity of certain singers who have crossed the ages like Beverly Sills. For example, in “O quante volte,” which is very fashionable at the moment, we add many ornaments with a baroque flavor as rapid vocalizations or high-pitched notes. I like singers who dare to think outside the box, but I also like to understand traditions. For me, each singer brings something unique, both in terms of personality and technique. If I listen to Beverly Sills or Natalie Dessay to remind me of lightness and sensuality, I will then listen to Maria Callas or Mariella Devia to explore another dimension of character or phrasing. I listen to Neue Stimmen, CMIM, masterclasses including those of Christiane Riel, DiDonato, etc. I could make a large list of singers with their qualities, but I also like to discover less-known names like Hanan Alattar.

What movies, TV shows and books would you recommend during this time of confinement?

I believe that everyone has an incredible chance to have time to work, enjoy life, find happiness and improve as a person. Depending on our stage of life, certain aspects become priority. In this period, why not take the opportunity to question yourself, find ways to grow personally and acquire new knowledge? For example, I take intensive German courses with the Goethe-Institut … and it’s quite a challenge! For the reading, there is Tout le monde vous dira non and À chacun sa mission by Monbourquette. Also, let’s take the opportunity to learn to communicate better, as in Boisvert’s S’affirmer et Communiquer.

For stress management, in addition to Carlson’s Quand le verre d’eau déborde, Renaud’s Le Guide anti-stress and Coudron’s rivStress, comment l’appoiser, À chacun son stress by Sonia Lupien, etc.

I share Boris Cyrulnik’s opinion on resilience, which maintains that in exceptional periods, the creativity that the arts allow is a path to recovery, and that art is a salvation in times of crisis. With all these upheavals, we must question ourselves in terms of time management and our heritage. Is it really normal to be so exhausted from work that there is little or no energy left for personal activities that provide important learning?

The reduction in working hours in certain areas allows us to deepen our interests and skills. It is very good to encourage artists to support our cultural heritage, but try to understand their passion, and this will allow you to discover a new world and develop another intellectual dimension, less traditional. I therefore advise people to listen to medici.tv, to less known radio stations or to ask those around you what and whom to listen to, but also to pose questions to artists, to understand their background, their ways of managing uncertainty. Dare to discover a new style of music, dance or other art. Finally, take the time to become interested in our planet, delve into the Shift Project or go see the National Geographic documentaries.

What other hobbies do you recommend during confinement?

I believe that along with stress management, diet and physical fitness are essential. Again, it all depends on the time and energy we have. But this period allows us to set the record straight, to question our lifestyle and to redefine our priorities. I suggest that we take advantage of this time to review how to improve our quality of life and our eating habits. For example, replace the spaghetti with fresh noodle-shaped carrots! Also, reconnecting with people seems a priority and it’s wonderful.

If we want to go even further, to help each other, I suggest encouraging the exchange of services or even simply giving. I personally do a lot of service exchanges through different personal courses or through  the Accorderie. Above all, don’t forget about physical fitness: join online groups that allow you to reconnect and encourage each other. Give yourself personal challenges. For people who work in the health field, do not hesitate to ask for help or a sympathetic ear. Finally, be available for others and compassionate.

Why did you join the CORONA Sérénades?

For me, it’s a concrete way to help artists, to promote La Scena Musicale, to encourage health workers, to be there for the sick, to encourage people to reconnect and give to others. The coronavirus affects in particular the respiratory system. As a singer, I use a “wind instrument.” I then hope to give a breath of fresh air to people in their daily lives, especially those who are suffering from significant psychological and financial repercussions. Finally, I especially want to help spread love. What better reason could there be to send others a message, carefully prepared, unique and full of strong emotions, as well as to offer gratitude for being involved in this project? Do not hesitate to ask me for pieces that speak of love!

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This page is also available in / Cette page est également disponible en: frFrancais (French)

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