France Dion | The Canadian Encyclopedia


France Dion

(Marie Marguerite Aline) France Dion. Soprano, teacher, born Québec City 16 May 1929; died Boucherville 2 Jul 2011.

France Dion

(Marie Marguerite Aline) France Dion. Soprano, teacher, born Québec City 16 May 1929; died Boucherville 2 Jul 2011. Dion studied piano and voice 1953-4 with Maurice Mongrain and Rolande Dion at Laval University and, following Wilfrid Pelletier's advice, continued her vocal studies 1957-9 at the CMM with Dina Maria Narici, Raoul Jobin, Janine Lachance, Dick Marzollo, Otto-Werner Mueller, Marie-Thérèse Paquin, and Roy Royal. Subsequently she also studied with Madeleine Roch. She was a finalist in various competitions, including that of the Quebec Symphony Orchestra with whom she made her debut in 1958 in the Verdi Requiem and a concert performance of Madama Butterfly. On scholarships from the Québec and Canadian governments she went to Vienna to study opera with Ferdinand Grossmann and Augustin Kubizek. She settled in London, where the Sadler's Wells Opera engaged her for a tour of England and Scotland. She sang the Queen of the Night in The Magic Flute at the Glyndebourne Festival and, in November 1963, the title role in the English premiere of Verdi's Giovanna d'Arco in London. She also sang Manon at the Liceo in Barcelona.

In 1964 Dion returned to Québec to sing Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte. for the Théâtre lyrique de Nouvelle-France. After her Wigmore Hall recital in 1965 the London critics commended the intensity and conviction of her interpretation of a Mozart aria and the charm and finesse she brought to Ravel's Chansons grecques. For the Youth and Music Canada (YMC) she made a recital tour of Québec in 1966 and in 1967 she appeared in about 40 performances of the opera L'Amante Cubista by Roberto Hazon. Les Grands Ballets Canadiens engaged her in 1969 for their performances of Carl Orff's Triomphe d'Aphrodite and Pas Rompus set to the music of Glière's Concerto for soprano and orchestra at the Place des Arts (PDA), and in 1971 for the premiere of a Canadian ballet scored for soprano and percussion, Paul Duplessis's Hip and Straight. Dion accompanied the dance troupe on several tours of Canada, the US, and Europe. In 1972 in Québec City she sang Messiaen's Harawi, appeared for the Opéra du Québec as Flora in La Traviata, gave several recitals, among others, for the Concerts Couperin, and sang Ravel's Shéhérazade with the CBC Quebec Chamber Orchestra. For the CBC she gave several recitals and sang as the Countess in The Marriage of Figaro and Amor in Orpheus and Eurydice. She taught 1971-84 at the Institut Marguerite-Bourgeoys, 1972-81 at the University of Québec (UQAM) and 1984-6 at Collège Marie-Victorin. Dion began teaching at the University of Montreal in 1982 and taught there for almost 30 years.

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