Marie-Nicole Lemieux (born June 26, 1975) is a Canadian coloratura contralto. She first came to the world's attention in 2000 when she became the first Canadian to win first prize at the Queen Elisabeth International Music Competition in Belgium. Since then Lemieux has established herself as one of the finest contraltos currently singing on the classical music stage, appearing with some of the world's best orchestras and singing with many great opera companies. Lemieux is admired for possessing an unusually flexible and beautiful contralto voice that does not have the heaviness that is often associated with her particular voice type. For this reason, Lemieux has become a favorite among lovers of Baroque opera and she is noted for her portrayal of characters in the operas of Handel and Vivaldi in particular. Her voice is admired for its richness, warmth and resonance and for its expressiveness and use of many different tone colours. Lemieux is also praised by critics for the great personality she exudes on stage and for her exceptional communicative power.
Marie-Nicole Lemieux was born in 1975 in Dolbeau-Mistassini, Quebec. In 1994, Lemieux entered the Chicoutimi Conservatoire de musique and began studying voice with Rosaire Simard. After graduating with a degree in voice in 1998, Lemieux continued with graduate studies at the Conservatoire de musique du Québec à Montréal with noted teacher Marie Daveluy. Lemieux graduated with a Masters in voice in 2000 and found almost immediate success. In the span of three weeks, Lemieux won first prize at both the Jeunesse Musicale du Canada's Joseph Rouleau Competition in Montreal and the Queen Elizabeth International Music Competition for opera in Brussels in 2000. Lemieux also took second prize in the separate competition for Lieder at the Queen Elizabeth International competition. Lemieux's success was immediately followed with invitations to perform and/or audition with many of the world's finest orchestras and opera companies.
Lemieux has done concert and recital work with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Montreal Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre National de France, Orchestre national du Capitole de Toulouse, Orchestre symphonique de la Monnaie, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, The Academy of Ancient Music, the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Les Musiciens du Louvre, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Ensemble Matheus, Les Violons du Roy, Ensemble orchestral de Paris, Modo Antiquo, the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, The National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa, the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, the Québec City Symphony, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra among others.
She has sung with many of the world's best conductors including: Richard Bradshaw, Franz-Paul Decker, Charles Dutoit, Paul Goodwin, Bernard Labadie, Sir Neville Marriner, Kurt Masur, Marc Minkowski, Kent Nagano, John Nelson, Gianandrea Noseda, Peter Oundjian, Michel Plasson, Federico Maria Sardelli, Michael Schonwandt, Marc Soustrot, Yoav Talmi, Ilan Volkov and Pinchas Zukerman among others.
In 2002, Lemieux made her professional operatic debut in the role of Cornelia in Handel's Giulio Cesare with the Canadian Opera Company. An auspicious debut as the other cast members in that production included such opera greats as Daniel Taylor, Ewa Podles, Isabel Bayrakdarian and Brian Asawa.
In 2005, she made her debut with the Staatsoper Berlin, performing in Monteverdi's Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria under the baton of René Jacobs. Later that same year, she performed the role of Mitrena in the world premiere of Vivaldi's Motezuma at the De Doelen Centre in Rotterdam.
In 2007, she made her debut with Opéra de Nancy in the title role of Handel's Giulio Cesare, her debut with Opéra de Genève as Polinesso in Handels's Ariodante, and her debut at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées as Genevieve in Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande, under the baton of Bernard Haitink. She also performed the title role in Vivaldi's Orlando furioso at the Edinburgh Festival.
In 2008, Lemieux sang the title role in Albert Roussel's Padmavati at the Théâtre du Châtelet, Genevieve in Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande at the Berlin State Opera, the title role in Handel's Orlando at De Nederlandse Opera, Mistress Quickly in Verdi's Falstaff at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, and Marthe in Gounod's Faust at the Opéra de Orange.
In 2009, Lemieux is scheduled to perform Geneviève in Pelléas et Mélisande at the Theater an der Wien, Mistress Quickly at the Bavarian State Opera and the Glyndebourne Festival, and Zita in Gianni Schicchi at the Opéra de Montréal among other engagements.
- 2008 - Schumann Frauenliebe Und-Leben, Naïve Classique (France)
- 2008 - Nisi Dominus Vivaldi Stabat Mater, Naïve Classique (France)
- 2006 - Vivaldi : Griselda, Naïve Classique (France)
- 2005 - L'heure exquise, Naïve Classique (France)
- 2004 - Brahms : Lieder, Analekta (Canada)
- 2004 - Händel : Rodelinda, Deutsche Grammophon (Germany)
- 2004 - Vivaldi : Orlando Furioso, Naïve Classique (France)
- 2003 - Scarlatti : Salve Regina - Vivaldi : Stabat Mater & Concerti Per Archi, Analekta (Canada)
- 2002 - Händel : Cantates italiennes et autres oeuvres, Analekta (Canada)
- 2001 - Mozart : Requiem (version Levine), Dorian Recordings (U.S.A.)
- 2000 - Recording of the laureates of the International Queen Elisabeth Competition, Cyprès (Belgium)
- 2000 - Berlioz, Mahler et Wagner, Cyprès (Belgium)
- 2008 - Opus Award, Concert of the Year (for « Marie-Nicole Lemieux, Encountering a Voice »)
- 2007 - Opus Award, Expansion Overseas (Canada)
- 2006 - George Solti Prize, Excellence of a Young Discographic Career (France)
- 2006 - Belgian Press Association, Young Soloist of the Year (Belgium)
- 2005 - Opus Award, Recording of the Year – Classical Musique, romantic, postromantic et impressionnist (Canada)
- 2005 - Victoires de la musique classique in Paris, Best Recording of the Year de l'année (France)
- 2003 - Opus Award, Concert of the Year 2003 in Medieval, Renaissance et Baroque music (Canada)
- 2003 - Juno Award, For the album « Le Requiem de Mozart » (Canada)
- 2001 - Opus Award, Discovery of the Year (Canada)
- 2001 - La Presse, Personality of the Year leased by the Montreal newspaper. (Canada)
- 2001 - Virginia-Parker Prize, Granted by the Canada Council for the Arts (Canada)
- 2000 - Queen Elisabeth Competition : First prize, Queen Fabiola's prize and Special prize of the Lied (Belgium)
- 2000 - Joseph-Rouleau Prize, (Premier Prix)Concours national des Jeunesses musicales du Canada (Canada)
- Official Website
- Boulev'Art Artist Management
- Feature article on Marie-Nicole Lemieux from La Scena Musicale
- Ne me refuse pas - CD review