One of the most highly acclaimed voices in the world, celebrated in Paris, Vienna and Amsterdam, gifted with deep vocal substance and a myriad of colours in which the incandescent temperament of a tragedienne is embodied, she can work wonders – and perhaps even miracles, with Mozart or Gluck. The great Quebec soprano Karina Gauvin returns to the Festival, in the company of Les Violons du Roy and Nicolas Ellis.
Founded by Bernard Labadie and currently under the musical direction of Jonathan Cohen, Les Violons du Roy is an ensemble of fifteen musicians devoted to the repertoire for chamber orchestra, with a special emphasis on music from the Baroque and Classical eras. They perform the latter repertoire using historical copies of period bows. In addition to their regular concert series in Quebec City and Montreal, their numerous North American tours have included regular stops in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. The ensemble has performed in Asia and throughout much of Europe, in venues that include the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and the Berliner Philharmonie. Recordings by Les Violons du Roy have been awarded three Junos, one Félix Award and two GRAMMY nominations. Altogether, these recordings comprise thirty-six titles on the Dorian, ATMA, Virgin Classics, Naïve, Hyperion, Erato, Decca Gold, and Analekta labels.
Artistic Director, conductor and founder of the Orchestre de l’Agora, Nicolas Ellis also serves as Artistic Partner with the Orchestre Métropolitain and Yannick Nézet-Séguin.
He has appeared as a guest conductor with Les Violons du Roy, the National Arts Centre Orchestra, Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, Orchestre symphonique de Longueuil, Orchestre symphonique de Québec, Orchestre Métropolitain, Symphony Nova Scotia, McGill Chamber Orchestra, Ottawa Symphony Orchestra, and Royal Conservatory Orchestra in Toronto. He has enjoyed the opportunity to perform with artists including Jean-Guihen Queyras, Anthony Roth Constanzo and Charles Richard-Hamelin.
Nicolas Ellis completed his master’s degree in conducting at McGill University under Alexis Hauser, also honing his art at the Aspen Music Festival with Robert Spano. In the summer of 2019, he participated in the Verbier Festival Academy, where he served as Assistant Conductor to Valery Gergiev.
Ellis founded the Orchestre de l’Agora in 2013. The ensemble’s mission is to reinvent the role of classical musicians in society by empowering them to collectively strengthen their impact on the world through their talent and commitment. The orchestra has forged partnerships with Les Porteurs de musique and the Share the Warmth Foundation’s music program, giving lessons, concerts, and workshops for children from underprivileged communities and playing in venues that generally have poor access to music, such as psychiatric centres, prisons, women’s shelters, and seniors’ homes. The Orchestre de l’Agora’s concerts have been recorded and broadcast several times on ICI Musique and CBC Music, including its recent production of Benjamin Britten’s The Turn of the Screw in collaboration with the Atelier lyrique de l’Opéra de Montréal. On April 22, 2020, the Orchestre de l’Agora donated $138,000 to Earth Day Canada, the Sierra Club, and the Nature Conservancy of Canada through Gala de la Terre, a major fundraising event, with the aim of protecting the St. Lawrence River and Estuary. In February 2020, the Orchestre de l’Agora was also the Orchestra-in-Residence for an intensive workshop on bel canto repertoire in collaboration with the Atelier lyrique de l’Opéra de Montréal.
Nicolas Ellis is the recipient of the 2017 Fernand Lindsay Career Award and was designated Radio-Canada’s Classical Breakthrough Artist (“Révélation classique”) for 2018–2019. He is also laureate of the 2015 Heinz Unger Award conferred by the Ontario Arts Council.
Known for her expertise in the Baroque repertoire, Canadian soprano Karina Gauvin sings Bach, Mahler, Britten and music of the 20th and 21st centuries with equal alacrity. Her prestigious awards include the designation “Soloist of the Year” by the Communauté internationale des radios publiques de langue française, First Prize of the CBC National Radio Competition for Young Performers, the Virginia Parker Prize and the Maggie Teyte Memorial Prize in London.
She has sung with many of the world’s leading symphony orchestras, including the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, San Francisco Symphony, Chicago Symphony, New York Philharmonic and Rotterdam Philharmonic, in addition to several Baroque orchestras, including Les Talens Lyriques, the Venice Baroque Orchestra, the Accademia Bizantina, Il Complesso Barocco, the Akademie Für Alte Musik Berlin, Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Les Violons du Roy. She has performed under conductors Charles Dutoit, Michael Tilson Thomas, Bernard Labadie, Christophe Rousset, Alan Curtis, Sir Roger Norrington, Kent Nagano, Semyon Bychkov, Helmuth Rilling, and Yannick Nézet-Séguin, and has given recitals with pianists Marc-André Hamelin, Angela Hewitt, Michael McMahon, and Roger Vignoles.
She has performed the title roles in Alcina (Handel) with Les Talens Lyriques and in Georg Conradi’s Die Schöne und getreue Ariadne with the Boston Early Music Festival. Other roles include Seleuce in Handel’s Tolomeo under Alan Curtis, with whom she also collaborated in recordings of Handel’s operas on the ARCHIV/Deutsche Grammophon, Virgin, and Naïve labels, among others. She has appeared in Tito Manlio (Vivaldi) in Brussels and at the Barbican in London, in Ezio (Handel) in Paris and Vienna, in Giulio Cesare (Handel) also in Paris and Vienna, and in Juditha Triumphans (Vivaldi) conducted by Andrea Marcon at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. Her performances with the Boston Early Music Festival Orchestra earned her two GRAMMY nominations in 2007 and 2009.
Her extensive discography—more than 30 titles—has garnered numerous awards, including a Chamber Music America Award for her recital recording Fête galante with pianist Marc-André Hamelin, as well as several Opus Awards.
Karina Gauvin’s recent engagements include a European tour and recording of Ariodante (Handel) on EMI Virgin Classics, a European tour and recording of Giulio Cesare on Naïve, both with Il Complesso Barocco conducted by the late Alan Curtis. She has also sung Debussy’s Le Martyre de saint Sébastien and Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 with the San Francisco Symphony conducted by Michael Tilson-Thomas. In 2009, she recorded Britten’s Les Illuminations with Les Violons du Roy, conducted by Jean-Marie Zeitouni, and has just completed a tribute album to Anna Maria Strada del Pò, with Alexander Weimann and Arion Orchestre Baroque.
She recently also sang the role of La princesse in Ravel’s L’Enfant et les sortilèges with the Rotterdam Philharmonic and Yannick Nézet-Séguin, as well as in Bach’s St John Passion with Les Violons du Roy and Bernard Labadie, performed on tour in Canada and at Carnegie Hall in New York.