Jean-Paul Jeannotte (1926-2021)

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Tenor Jean-Paul Jeannotte passed away in Montreal on Sept. 9 at the age of 95. A refined musician, he was also a professor, notably at Université Laval, and an administrator in various Quebec cultural organizations for many years. Appointed Officer of the Order of Canada in 1987 and inducted into the Canadian Opera Hall of Fame in 1994, his accomplishments are now recognized by several generations of musicians and music lovers in Quebec and around the world.

Initially trained in Montreal, he continued his vocal studies in Paris after the Second World War under the tutelage of Madame d’Estainville Rousset, and later with Pierre Bernac, before making his professional debut in Cherbourg in the role of Vincent (Mireille, Gounod) in 1947. The following year, he made his debut in Montreal with the Variétés Lyriques in Edmond Audran’s opéra-comique La Mascotte. Particularly passionate about the French repertoire, he kept it at the heart of his musical activities, both in opera and in recital, throughout his career. 

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Considered one of the most important Pelléas of his generation, a live recording made by the Radiodiffusion-Télévision Française in 1955 at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, with Françoise Ogéas as Mélisande and Gérard Souzay as Golaud, testifies to his great qualities as a performer. The French critic René Leibowitz wrote of this particular performance: “The choice of the young French-Canadian tenor seemed to me to be particularly fortunate. His Pelléas has often moved me by the intelligence of his dramatic interpretation.”

An exceptional recitalist, Jeannotte shared the stage with Francis Poulenc, among others, and formed an extremely rich artistic partnership with Canadian pianist Jeanne Landry. Together they toured extensively in North America, Europe and the Soviet Union on numerous occasions. Several recordings made by the CBC, notably selections of French mélodies composed by Gabriel Fauré, Charles Gounod and Reynaldo Hahn or the complete Die schöne Müllerin by Franz Schubert, testify to their great musical kinship. He composed a few mélodies himself, including the cycle Propos intimes, recorded by André Turp and Colombe Pelletier. 

After a brilliant international career, Jean-Paul Jeannotte remained extremely active in the field of artistic administration. He was named vice-president and then president of the Union des Artistes, member of the board of directors of the SMCQ, of the management of the Place des Arts as well as of the Opéra du Québec. Greatly involved in the creation of the Opéra de Montréal, alongside Joseph Rouleau and Robert Savoie, he was its first artistic director, a position he held for nearly a decade.

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


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