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Joseph Fournier de Belleval, baritone (1892-1945)

Portrait of Joseph Fournier de Belleval

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Joseph Fournier de Belleval

Baritone Joseph Fournier de Belleval, probably born in Quebec in 1892, was active on the Quebec lyric stage for some fifteen years.

It was in Québec City that he first sang in major productions, such as L'Accordée de village, directed by Omer Létourneau (April 1917) and in RIP by Planquette (April 1918) at the Auditorium de Québec. In February 1919, in the Knights of Columbus Hall of Québec, he played the role of Macroton in L'Amour médecin (Poisse), performing alongside Ulysse Paquin. The baritone was often invited to perform for musical associations, notably for the Cercle Montcalm in November 1919 and the Cercle des Dames de Lévis in May 1920. On March 27, 1924, he starred in the operetta Vive la Canadienne, by Omer Létourneau, in the Knights of Columbus Hall and then again, in April, at the Palais Montcalm in Québec. With Honoré Vaillancourt's Société canadienne d'opérette, he performed in, among others, Le Carillon de Saint-Arlon (1924), Rêve de valse (1924), La Cocarde de Mimi Pinson (1925), Ordre de l'empereur (1925), Les Cloches de Corneville (1926), Le Beau Voyage (1926), Le Jongleur de Notre-Dame (1928) and La Dernière Valse (1929). He also played in some local productions, including performing with Paul Trépanier in Si j'étais roi, by Adolphe Adam, at Mont-Saint-Louis on May 12, 1927. In May 1932, he performed with Conrad Gauthier in Les Cloches de Corneville, at Mont-Saint-Louis.

His recording career spanned the entire 1920s. He first recorded 24 songs chosen primarily from the Parisian variety repertoire of the time and some light, lyric works by Denza and Barbirolli. These were recorded in two sessions (December 1921 and November 1922) at the Columbia studios in New York. In these same studios, he recorded another dozen songs in the same vein in February 1924. The following year, in Montréal, he recorded twelve songs for His Master's Voice, half of which were French versions of American hits. Between 1926 and the end of 1928, the baritone recorded, for Columbia in New York, some fifty other songs taken primarily from the French repertoire. In total, Fournier de Belleval recorded some one hundred songs in eight years, which demonstrates the popularity enjoyed by the powerful baritone.

In 1922, when he was editorial assistant of the periodical La Musique, published at Laval University, the French minister of public education named Joseph Fournier de Belleval Canadian correspondent for the Service d'étude d'action artistique. In the 1920s, Fournier de Belleval had a singing school at 3476 Saint-Denis Street in Montréal. In the middle of the 1930s, he branched off into the retail trade, creating the Association des marchands détaillants, working in this career until his death in Contrecœur, in Verchères county, on March 1945.

For more information on Joseph Fournier de Belleval's recordings, please consult the Virtual Gramophone database.

Robert Thérien, music researcher, Montréal