Opera Scotland

Joseph Rouleau Suggest updates

Joseph Alfred Pierre Rouleau.

Born Matane, Quebec, 28 February 1929.

Died Montreal, 12 July 2019.

Canadian bass.

Joseph Rouleau studied singing in Montreal with Pauline Donalda and Martial Singher, then in Milan with Mario Basiola. He sang Philip in Montreal (1955) and quickly made his US debut in New Orleans. He took up a contract at Covent Garden the following year. He continued to sing with the Royal Opera almost annually over the next thirty years, giving over 1000 performances, in a range of 49 operas.

Other houses in which he worked include the Paris Opéra, the Liceu in Barcelona and the Bolshoi in Moscow, where he sang Méphistophélès in Faust and Philip in Don Carlos. He toured the USSR on three occasions. At Wexford he sang the General in The Gambler (Prokofiev). Another important French role he performed was the title part in Don Quichotte. He created the role of Bishop Tache in Louis Riel by Somers (Toronto 1967).

His debut at Covent Garden was as Colline (1957), and his repertoire there included Mozart (Commendatore); Rossini (Don Basilio); Donizetti (Raimondo); Bellini (Rodolfo La sonnambula, Oroveso); Berlioz (Pope Benvenuto Cellini); Musorgsky (Boris Godunov, Dosifei); Verdi (Banquo, Sparafucile, Ramfis, Lodovico, both Philip and the Inquisitor in Don Carlos); Puccini (Colline, Timur).

He first sang with Scottish Opera in its opening season, as Arkel, a part he repeated several times thereafter. He returned regularly as Méphistophélès, Boris Godunov, Narbal, the Commendatore, Lodovico and Pogner, making his last appearances once more as Arkel.

With the London Sinfonietta he sang in Stravinsky's Renard at the 1969 Edinburgh Festival, repeating the part on tour in 1974.

Of his recordings, perhaps two are especially worthy of note. He sings Assur on the Semiramide set made with Joan Sutherland and Marilyn Horne in 1966. And when the BBC made the first recording of the original version of Don Carlos in French, Rouleau sang Philippe. That recording is now available from Opera Rara.

Roles in Scotland

Raimondo Bide the Bent, the Ashtons' chaplain
Lucia di Lammermoor 1961
Arkel King of Allemonde, grandfather of Golaud and Pelléas
Pelléas and Mélisande 1962
Pelléas and Mélisande 1972
Pelléas and Mélisande 1973
Pelléas and Mélisande 1978
Méphistophélès the devil
Faust 1964
Boris Godunov Tsar of Russia
Boris Godunov 1968
Narbal adviser to Dido
Trojans 1969
Trojans 1972
Ghost of Hector Priam's eldest son
Trojans 1969
Trojans 1972
Singer 4
Renard 1969
Commendatore an elderly aristocrat
Don Giovanni 1970
Lodovico envoy of the Venetian republic
Otello 1972
Veit Pogner a goldsmith
Mastersingers of Nuremberg 1977

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