Magazine article Opera Canada

Emile Belcourt: June 27, 1926-August 3, 2017

Magazine article Opera Canada

Emile Belcourt: June 27, 1926-August 3, 2017

Article excerpt

Emile Belcourt was one of Canada's most versatile vocal artists. Born into a French-Canadian family in Lafleche, Saskatchewan, he graduated as a pharmacist but decided to join the chorus of Glyndebourne Opera in 1950 before moving to Vienna, where he studied as a baritone. He

sang in Germany (Ulm and Bonn) for three years before receiving his first major break in 1962, when conductor Sir Alexander Gibson engaged him to sing the role of Pelleas for Scottish Opera's inaugural season. He returned to Scottish Opera on many occasions, most notably as Cassio in Verdi's Otello and as Shuisky in Boris Godunov. The Scottish Opera debut led directly to engagements with Royal Opera, Covent Garden, where he debuted as Gonzalve in Ravel's L'heure espagnole in 1963. Later that year, his debut with Sadler's Wells (now, English National Opera) as Pluto in Offenbach's Orpheus in the Underworld marked the beginning of a 30-year career with the company.

Belcourt preferred singing in the language of the audience, and so, was very comfortable at ENO with its English language mandate. There, he performed an incredibly wide variety of roles, but was especially celebrated in operetta: Die Fledermaus, Offenbach's Bluebeard and La Vie Parisienne, and Hie Merry Widow. …

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