Soprano Dominique Labelle, whose voice has been called “angelic,” “silvery,” and “vibrant,” could easily lay claim to the title “diva.” Instead, she simply calls herself a musician, and takes greatest pride not in her rave reviews, but in her work with colleagues and in her probing explorations of the repertoire from the Baroque to new music.
Throughout her career she has fearlessly plumbed the technical and emotional depths of music, turning in performances of “almost alarming ferocity” (San Francisco Chronicle), possessed of “conviction but without exhibitionism” (De Telegraf), that have “the audience hanging on every note” (Boston Globe). Her legendary musicianship and passionate commitment to music-making have led to close and enduring collaborations with a number of the world’s most respected conductors and composers, most recently Nicholas McGegan, Iván Fischer, Jos van Veldhoven, and the Pulitzer Prize winning composer Yehudi Wyner. She also treasures her long association with the late Robert Shaw.
Recent and upcoming engagements include Handel’s Messiah with Kent Nagano and the Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal, and with Gerard Schwartz and the Seattle Symphony Orchestra; Yehudi Wyner’s Fragments from Antiquity with the Lexington Symphony; Barber’sKnoxville, Summer of 1915 with the Boston Classical Orchestra; and ten performances in the spring of 2011 at the Göttingen Festival in Germany with Nicholas McGegan, including a Handel Gala that will celebrate his 20-year tenure as the festival’s artistic director. She and Mr. McGegan, with whom she has recorded and performed extensively, are also collaborating in performances of Handel’s Orlando and Alexander’s Feast, with San Francisco’s Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra.
Her recent appearances with Hungarian conductor Iván Fischer include the Countess Almaviva in Mozart’s Nozze di Figaro at Teatro Perez Galdos in Las Palmas and in Budapest, a Bach B-minor Mass in Washington, D.C., and a Bach St. Matthew Passion with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam.
In addition to her renowned Handel, Mozart, and Bach interpretations, she is drawn to contemporary music. She sings Seven Romances on Poetry of Alexander Blok by one of her favorite modern composers, Shostakovich, at the Mt. Desert Festival of Chamber Music in Maine in the summer of 2011. Her recent performance of Britten’s Les Illuminations with the New England String Ensemble and Susan Daveny Wyner was called “heated” and “voluptuous” by the Boston Globe. She has performed and recorded John Harbison’s The Rewaking with the Lydian String Quartet.
Dominique Labelle first came to international prominence as Donna Anna in Peter Sellar’s daring production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni, set in Spanish Harlem, which she performed in New York, Paris, and Vienna. She has also won great acclaim for her portrayal of Micaela in Bizet’s Carmen: “You would have to go back to the young Mirella Freni to find a Micaela to rival the golden-throated Labelle… her singing is enough to give you religion,” wrote Richard Dyer of the Boston Globe.
Among her numerous recordings of opera and concert repertoire is Monsigny’s Le Déserteur,with Opera Lafayette and Ryan Brown (Naxos), with whom she also performed in Gluck’sArmide at Lincoln Center’s Frederick P. Rose Hall and at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Of her performance in the title role, Anthony Tommasini wrote in the New York Times, “Singing with tender longing one moment and steely determination the next, Ms. Labelle conveyed Armide’s aching conflicts.” She can also be heard on recordings on the Virgin Veritas, Deutsche Harmonia Mundi, RCA Victor Red Seal, Koss, Denon, New World, Carus and Muisica Omnia labels. Her recording of Handel’s Arminio (Virgin Classics) won the 2002 Handel Prize.
Born in Montreal and trained at McGill and Boston Universities, Ms. Labelle enjoys sharing her technical and musical insights with young singers, and has taught master classes at Harvard University, McGill, Smith College, and the University of Massachusetts with more being planned. She is now Professor of Voice at the Schulich School of Music at McGill University, in Montreal.