Magazine article Opera Canada

Onstage: Pierre Lefebvre

Magazine article Opera Canada

Onstage: Pierre Lefebvre

Article excerpt

Pierre Lefebvre is passionate about his work and about life in general. Whether talking about his favorite operatic role (Hauptmann in Wozzeck) or his love of archaeology--in his few spare moments, he deciphers Egyptian hieroglyphics--his rugged face and twinkling eyes exude an infectious vitality. "I am a lucky person," he says, "and have been fortunate to have had such a successful career." He's quite right in his assessment The 49-year-old Canadian tenor has the next four years hooked in opera houses across Europe and the United States.

I spoke with Lefebvre in Spain after his resounding success as Franz in Les Contes d'Hoffmann. He talked about the demands of the production by Gian Carlo del Monaco (son of tenor Mario del Monaco): "It needs good actors and good singers, because there is not much onstage. We must fill it" In fact, Lefebvre feels that is the great challenge for opera singers today. "Singers must have more than a voice," he says. 'There has been an evolution in the opera world. And this is good. We must not turn back. But it is more difficult today because you also have to be an actor--except for singers like Gigli or Pavarotti. Then, of course, you do not have to do anything but sing!"

Born in Drummondville, Que., Lefebvre graduated in French literature from the Universite de Sherbrooke and then went to Rome, where he studied with Leo Ferri. He sang in the RAI chorus, and made his opera debut in 1981 as Rodolfo in La Boheme. "It was then that I realized my true vocation was to sing and act," he says. "It was the best way to get the most out of myself."

The tenor first concentrated on Italian opera: La Gazza Ladra, Giovanna d'Arco, Turandot, Tosca, all in Italy. Then Goro (Madama Butterfly) in Miami and Verona, and Bardolfo (Falstaff) at Salzburg and in New York. His Metropolitan Opera debut was in 1994 as Goro. Russian opera has also been important to him. He has often sung the Simpleton in Boris Godunov, and he reprised the role in May-June in Toulouse.

Gradually, Lefebvre recognized his future lay in character roles, and it was this repertoire that was "the key which led to other things." Overall, however, he says, "German repertoire has so much more for me. I have great satisfaction when I sing Strauss, Wagner, Humperdinck and Berg." An exception to this was the lead role in Berio's Un Re in Ascolta in Geneva this past January, when he garnered high praise: Le Temps wrote, "Lefebvre was superb."

There is also more Wagner in his future. Lefebvre has sung in Tan nhauser, Die Meistersinger von Nurnburg and Parsifal. …

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