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La Scena Musicale - Vol. 14, No. 10 July 2009

Yannick-Muriel Noah: Following her heart

by Joseph So / July 8, 2009

MIMC Second Prize and Chalmers Award winner Canadian lyrico-spinto soprano Yannick-Muriel Noah would have taken a very different career path had she not listened to her inner voice. The Madagascar-born Noah was studying architecture at Carleton University, but realized she’d rather be making music. This interest started at a young age and she studied clarinet and played saxophone in the school band. But most of all, Noah loved to sing. “My first teacher told me I had an operatic voice,” she said.

Her acceptance into the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio while finishing her Bachelor’s was life changing. Noah remembers with gratitude that “they took a chance on me even though I was very green!”

From the start, hers was a voice of great potential. I recall her COC summer concert singing “Pace, pace mio Dio,” an audacious aria choice. Her voice had a gleaming, rich sound: truly one to be reckoned with.

Noah made her full-length production debut as Clotilde in the COC’s staging of Norma. As a member of the Ensemble, she learned and covered many roles without actually singing them on stage. Her big break came when she filled in for two performances of Tosca, wowing audiences and critics alike.

Since her first season with the COC, Noah has gone on to compete in over twenty vocal competitions. Competitions fulfill her need to connect with an audience, helping her hone her craft in public. Although Noah admits to feeling nervous in front of the judges, she quite enjoys a competitive environment to push herself and test her mettle. In 2007, Noah placed second in the Belvedere Hans Gabor Competition in Vienna to American Angela Meade, who also won in Montreal.

“It was my first competition in Europe, and it freed me, as I wasn’t scared of being judged. I learned how open I could be onstage,” she said. Her success there led directly to a debut in La Wally in Klagenfurt which was hailed “a resounding success,” her voice “voluminous and beautifully unfolding,” and her acting “sensitive” and “touching” (Opernglas, Hamburg. Nov. 2008). She has been re-engaged as Aïda in May 2010, but not before Madama Butterfly at the COC this fall.

With the opera world hungry for big lyrico-spintos, it may not surprise that Noah is being offered these heavier roles at a young age. An intelligent singer, Noah is aware of the dangers of ‘too much, too soon’, but with her big, vibrant sound, she finds Verdi, Puccini and verismo a good fit. She is also attracted to the enigmatic Marietta in Die tote Stadt. The upcoming COC Butterfly will be her biggest sing: “what really hit me when I saw the Met Butterfly was the intensity of emotions—I’m exhausted just thinking about it! I’ll have to learn quickly how to give, but also keep enough to last to the end.”

Married and a mother of two daughters—10-month-old Olwynn and 5-year-old Sierra—Noah has the maturity to balance family life with the increasing demands of a career. With her exceptional gifts as a singer combined with the proper guidance and advice of her teacher (Darryl Edwards) and coaches, and with any luck, a future agent who has her welfare at heart, we’ll be seeing Yannick-Muriel Noah on opera stages for years to come. n


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