The Canadian contralto Marie-Nicole Lemieux was born in Quebec in 1975 and trained at the Chicoutimi Conservatoire and in Montréal, with early successes including the Joseph Rouleau Competition and the Queen Elisabeth International Music Competition in 2000; her professional operatic debut was as Cornelia in Handel’s Giulio Cesare with the Canadian Opera Company two years later.
Noted for her effervescent stage-presence and adroit comic timing as well as for the size and flexibility of her voice, Lemieux is particularly in demand for the role of Mistress Quickly in Verdi’s Falstaff (her performance of the role at Covent Garden in 2018 was described as ‘booming and exuberant’ by the Financial Times and ‘wickedly commanding’ by The Independent), though her repertoire also includes Handel (Bertarido in Rodelinda, Polinesso in Ariodante), Rossini (the title-role in Tancredi and Eduige in Guillaume Tell) and dramatic mezzo roles such as Verdi’s Ulrica and Azucena and Saint-Saens’s Dalila. She also won considerable acclaim in the high-lying role of Cassandre on John Nelsons’s multi-award-winning recording of Berlioz’s Les Troyens in 2017, which The Times described as ‘the finest on any complete recording’.
Lemieux’s solo recordings include an all-Rossini album, Sì, sì, sì, sì! (‘The Quebecois singer recalls the great Marilyn Horne in this repertoire’ – Sunday Times) on Erato, and Ne me refuse pas, a collection of French Romantic arias on Naïve Classique which was shortlisted for a Gramophone Award in 2011.