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Honorary degree citation - Huguette Tourangeau*

By: Beverly McGuire, June 1994

Mr. Chancellor, I have the honour to present to you the internationally recognized opera singer and teacher, Huguette Tourangeau. Ms. Tourangeau is celebrated for her lifetime of dedication to the highest standards of performance and to the highest standards of vocal pedagogy.

C'est en 1961, dans le cadre du festival des arts de la Sir George Williams Students Undergraduate Society, que Madame Tourangeau a fait une de ses premières apparitions sur scène alors qu'elle étudiait au Conservatoire de musique du Québec à Montréal, dirigé à l'époque par Wilfrid Pelletier. Au nom de l'association, la présidente de la section culturelle, Roslyn Yarosky, lui écrivait peu après: «Nos meilleurs voeux de succès dans toute vos entreprises futures, en particulier vos études de chant et votre carrière». Quel à-propos!

Other encouragement followed. On the advice of Zubin Mehta, in 1964 Huguette entered and won the coveted first prize of the Metropolitan Opera Competition, the Fisher Foundation Award, and a contract for a 56-city North American tour with the Metropolitan Opera Touring Company. She also was awarded the Rockefeller Foundation Scholarship, and in 1965, a Canada Council Grant. Other awards followed; notably the Canadian Music Council 1977 citation "Le titre de l'interprète de l'année".

Also in 1964, Jean Gascon, Director of the Stratford Festival, engaged Huguette to sing the role of Cherubino in the "Marriage of Figaro", the Festival's first presentation of opera. Another young artist was engaged to conduct, the Australian piano prodigy, Richard Bonynge.

Their meeting led to the first collaboration of Huguette with Joan Sutherland, the wife of Maestro Bonygne, in the Seattle Opera production of "Lakme". The collaboration continued with more than forty staged opera productions in the major international opera houses of the world, seventeen complete opera L.P.'s and C.D.'s for Decca/London Records, and countless concerts, television and radio broadcasts in live and filmed performances, of which many are available on video.

Outre ses interprétations d'oeuvres du bel canto et du répertoire baroque, avec Dame Joan Sutherland et Richard Bonygne, Madame Tourangeau a partagé la scène, dans de nombreuses productions internationales, avec des artistes de renom comme Placido Domingo, Luciano Pavarotti, Samuel Ramey, James Morris, Montserrat Caballe, Kathleen Battle, Barbara Hendricks, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Tito Gobi, Renata Tebaldi, Edda Moser et Louis Quilico, sous la direction des célèbres chefs Sir Georg Sold, Wilfrid Pelletier, Alain Lombard, Pierre Hétu, Zubin Mehta et Hans Swarowsky, professeur de Mehta.

In 1972, Huguette began teaching while continuing her career. She and her husband, Barry Thompson, former Managing Director of the Edmonton and Vancouver Operas, have since pursued their research and teaching of classic Italian vocal techniques which they recognized as the fundamental reason for the success of all extraordinary singers. Since 1984, Ms. Tourangeau has taught in Montréal.

Mr. Chancellor, it is a privilege and an honour to present to you, on behalf of the Senate and by the authority of the Board of Governors, Huguette Tourangeau, so that you may confer on her the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.


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