Wirth prize winner

The 2021/22 winner of the Wirth Vocal prize at McGill’s Schulich Schoolof Music is Innu soprano Elisabeth Saint-Gelais.  She performed in the RBA at noon on Wednesday, accompanied by Louise Pelletier.  It was impressive.  She has power to burn and a rather lovely voice and, not so common among young dramatic sopranos, considerable control across her registers.  She also displayed considerable linguistic skill in French, German and Czech though I’m completely unqualified to comment on the quality of her Anishinabe.


She started off with two songs from Berlioz’ Nuits d’été which were a good indicator of what was to come.  She has a big, full, almost mezzo-ish sound.  The Vier Lieder, Op 27 of Strauss followed.  These often trip up young singers but Saint-Gelais navigated them extremely well with, for example, real heft in “Heimliche Aufforderung” and lyricism in “Morgen”, all without going squally in her upper register.


A sense that she is something of a stage animal came over in a nicely dramatic, and humorous, account of Barbara Assignaak’s “NMAKAAN’JIK KIKZOOTAADWAK” in which we were told that Saint Germain’s character, a crow, is counting out blueberries for her lover.  Two pretty Duparc songs and a lovely rendering of Dvořák’s “Song to the Moon” closed out a highly satisfying recital.


Definitely one to watch!

Photo credits: Karen E. Reeves

1 thought on “Wirth prize winner

  1. Pingback: Best of 2022 | operaramblings

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