Rouleau, Joseph

Joseph Rouleau, bass, teacher (b at Matane, Qué 28 Feb 1929). Rouleau is renowned worldwide for his unerring theatrical sense and impressive vocal flexibility. He first studied in Montréal, then in Milan, Italy and the US with Martial Singer and Darius Milhaud. After singing with the Opéra national du Québec and the Minute Opera, Rouleau appeared with the Opera Guild of Montréal (1956) and with Covent Garden in London the same year. His association with that opera company lasted 20 years. In 1960 he sang with Joan Sutherland in Bellini's La Sonnambula, subsequently appearing with her in the same role at the Opéra de Paris and on tour in Australia. Rouleau's interpretation of Judas in Massenet's Marie-Magdeleine in 1976 was a triumph in New York City, and in 1984 he mounted the stage of the Metropolitan Opera. He has also performed in South America, South Africa, Israel and in the former USSR.

In Canada Rouleau premiered the role of Monseigneur Taché in Harry SOMERS's opera Louis Riel with the CANADIAN OPERA COMPANY (1967) and makes frequent appearances with the country's major orchestras in non-operatic performances. He began teaching at the Université de Québec in Montréal in 1980, and was elected president of the Mouvement d'action pour l'art lyrique du Québec (1977), an organization whose lobbying led to the creation of the OPÉRA DE MONTRÉAL. He has served as national president of JEUNESSES MUSICALES DU CANADA since 1989. He received the PRIX DE MUSIQUE CALIXA-LAVALLÉE (1967) and the Prix Denise-Pelletier (1990). In 1977 he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada and was inducted into the Canadian Opera Hall of Fame in 1992.

An untiring performer, Rouleau continues to travel extensively and to appear in various roles (such as that of Kalman Zsupan in Johann Strauss's The Gypsy Baron at the NAC in 2000), to act as juror at international voice competitions, and to preside over the activities of the Jeunesses Musicales du Canada, which instituted a national voice competition in his name.