The Vancouver Island baritone best known for his title performance as Louis Riel will be inducted Sunday into the Canadian Opera Hall of Fame.
Bernard Turgeon, who has sung more than 150 roles on stages around the world in his 60-plus year career, will be recognized for his "invaluable contribution" to the Canadian opera scene. He joins 53 other inductees.
Born in Edmonton in 1931, Turgeon began training under his mother, a graduate of the Conservatoire de musique du QuÃ©bec. He continued studying under tenor Jean LÃ©tourneau and won a scholarship to study at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto in 1951.
Turgeon performed in the Canadian Opera Company's first productions in 1952, as well as CBC's first televised opera, Carmen.
He is best known for performing the title role in Harry Somers's Louis Riel with the Canadian Opera Company in 1967 - a role that he recreated for a CBC television production in 1969 as well as a gala performance at the Lincoln Center in New York City in 1975. He has also performed internationally. The baritone was the first Canadian to be a principal singer on contract with Sadler's Wells Opera in London and also appeared in operas broadcast on the BBC. In recognition of his artistic contributions to Great Britain, he was instated at London's Museum of Performing Arts. After three national tours of the Soviet Union in the 1970s, he was invited back to perform "wherever, whatever and whenever he wanted to," according to a statement.
In the academic realm, Turgeon designed voice and opera programs at the Banff School of Fine Arts, the University of Alberta, the University of Victoria and McGill University.
Turgeon continues to sing, coach, teach and consult clients from various fields.
After being diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1994 and surviving, he studied hypnotherapy at Concordia University. He also holds a master practitioner's licence in neurolinguistic programming, a study of how people think and experience the world. He is also the former vice-president of the Vancouver Island MÃ©tis Society.
The OpÃ©ra de MontrÃ©al hosts the gala induction event, which will feature 15 Canadian singers, as well as the OpÃ©ra de MontrÃ©al Chorus and the Orchestre MÃ©tropolitain.
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