Yannick-Muriel Noah: Following her heartby 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