Death of stalwart Covent Garden bass, 90

Death of stalwart Covent Garden bass, 90


norman lebrecht

July 13, 2019

The Canadian bass Joseph Rouleau, who sang at Covent Garden for quarter of a century, has died at a great age.

Joining the company in 1957, he sang leading roles opposite Joan Sutherland, Maria Callas, Luciano Pavarotti, Marilyn Horne and many other stars of his time. He also appeared at the Met, Paris and Toronto.

Returning to Canada, he In 1989, he became president of Jeunesses Musicales Canada for 25 years and founded the Concours musical international de Montréal.


  • Silversled says:

    May he Rest in Peace. An excellent singer and a nice man. One of those singers who are so good at the time, the opera goers tended to take him for granted.

  • Nick2 says:

    A quite stunning Boris.

  • David K. Nelson says:

    If you want to hear a remarkable piece of singing and vocal acting, track down Rouleau’s early 1970s LP for Decca/London of French arias, and listen to Massenet’s Dors, O cité perverse…Astres étincellants from Hérodiade. The excerpt from the French version of Verdi’s Don Carlo is also worthy of mention.

  • John Lanigan-O'Keeffe says:

    This extract does not demonstrate his mighty bass, Manoah being almost a baritone role. Harapha would have suited him better. This is a bit better and also shows his limits.

  • In 2005 I conducted the McGill Symphony Orchestra at Montreal’s Place des Arts in a concert performance of
    Wagner’s “DIe Walküre” Act 1 with Stefano Algieri as Siegmund and Jane Eaglen as Sieglinde.
    For the part of Hunding, the then 76 years old Joseph Rouleau accepted our invitation, and although he never sang that part before, he memorized it,
    sang it with immense expression and authenticity, with a diction that suggested a singer of rather German than French tongue, and he added
    some semi-staging to this otherwise concert-like performance with the kind of artistry which was not lost on anybody present on-and off stage.

    Joseph Rouleau’s dedication as Head of Canada’s Jeunesse Musicales and his involvement with several musical institutions, particularly in Montreal, is legendary, and the
    immense example he set not only for young singers, but in fact for all of us will never be forgotten.
    He was one of our most celebrated soloists and he will be in our thoughts throughout the coming season, particularly in the concerts with singers.

    Joseph Rouleau’s passing is a moment of great sadness, but also of saying a deep and heartfelt Thank You to a great artist and human being!
    Sharing my deepest sympathy with all who knew and loved him,

    Alexis Hauser