Wednesday, March 7, 2012
|Photo by Jen Joyce Davis|
Acadiana has long been a wellspring of world-class musicians — in zydeco and Cajun, rock ’n’ roll, swamp pop, country and blues. But opera? Eh, not so much.
Enter André Courville. The 25-year-old valedictorian of Cecilia High School’s class of 2004 is a hot property in an art form that is so competitive, so hard to break into, that few ascend to its dizzying, oxygen-bare summit. Courville is making the trek. His sherpa, a dazzlingly clear and strong bass-baritone voice.
Courville recently took top prize in the Metropolitan Opera National Council’s district (New Orleans-Shreveport-Mobile) competition and second place in the regional (Gulf Coast region and Puerto Rico) competition. For 60 years the Met National Council has conducted such regional auditions to find America’s most talented opera singers and help develop them into world-class voices. Think of it as Major League Baseball’s farm system for vocal artists. Courville was hailed by judges for his fearless style and “magnetic stage presence.” Roughly 1,500 singers from across the country compete annually. André Courville rose with the cream to the top.
“It’s really a big honor for me,” Courville says. “Many of the world’s foremost singers, among them Renée Fleming, Jessye Norman, Samuel Ramey and Deborah Voigt have received awards from the National Council.”
When he isn’t traveling the world for performances, auditions and study, Courville serves as the music director and organist at Our Lady of Fatima Church in Lafayette, a job he says suits him perfectly. “It gives me the flexibility I need to travel around the world to perform and audition,” says Courville, who began studying voice as a freshman in high school before going on to major in vocal performance at Loyola University in New Orleans.
Even before high school, Courville’s extraordinary musical gifts were already on display.
“I heard him conducting the church choir in Henderson when he was only 12 years old and I was amazed,” says Geraldine Hubbell, Courville’s voice coach and a member of the Executive Committee of the Acadiana Symphony, a group with which both she and Courville routinely perform.
A Met National Council award not only looks great on a résumé, it often opens the curtain to the most prestigious opera stages in the world, especially for a singer in Courville’s vocal range, which comprises more select company.
“I was very pleased to place so high. It’s not as common for a bass-baritone to place above sopranos and tenors,” he admits. “I was overwhelmed by all the people who came up to me after the competition. People were shocked that a big bass sound could come out of a thin guy like me.”
For the record, Courville is 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighs 140 pounds or, as a middle-aged guy battling the bulge would say, a lucky SOB who better enjoy it while it lasts.
“André is blessed with a special talent in many areas of music — singing, piano and organ, church music, conducting and opera,” gushes vocal coach Hubbell.
|Photo by Danny Izzo|
But opera is so much more than merely carrying a tune, albeit an incredibly complex, challenging tune that makes “The Star-Spangled Banner” sound like a nursery rhyme; it takes acting chops, too, and a proficiency in foreign languages — Italian principally, but French and German as well. Courville says he learned a crucial aspect of his craft whole working in New York City with world-renowned soprano Martina Arroyo.
“Ms. Arroyo taught me the invaluable lesson that a great opera performer puts just as much energy into acting as they do into singing,” he says. “I practice [voice] every day, but I also devote countless hours to character development and role preparation.”
Between now and achieving opera stardom, Courville can be heard and seen at 7:30 p.m. April 20 when he performs Beethoven’s Mass in C at Fatima with Chorale Acadienne. He will also perform the role of Don Aflonso in Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte in July in NYC and the title role in Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro in Vancouver in August.
In the meantime, you can catch André Courville on Sundays behind the organ at Fatima. If his musicianship doesn’t do you some good, the Mass probably will.
The village now says the ordinance will likely be overturned and authorities will more vigorously enforce existing leash laws.
Lower oil prices also might slow the growth of oil production in parts of the U.S., Canada and elsewhere because it will no longer be so profitable.
Bill Cassidy cast an early ballot Tuesday, seeking to draw renewed attention to a race that has fallen off newspaper front pages and away from people's minds as they plan holiday meals and shopping schedules.
A Lafayette woman faces up to 20 years in prison for running up more than $1 million in unauthorized charges to her company credit card.
Signs that our state’s banking industry is undergoing a downsizing in 2014 were further confirmed today with the FDIC’s latest figures showing a third straight quarter in which Louisiana lost more banks and earned less money.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
State police say a 47-year-old Lafayette man, who collected more than $83,000 in disability benefits, is accused of operating two businesses out of his home at a time when he claimed he had no income.
Battered all night by Baltimore's relentless pass rush, Drew Brees could feel his protection collapsing and Terrell Suggs getting ahold of him as he urgently unloaded a pass to the right flat toward tight end Jimmy Graham.
After a convincing defeat at the polls on Nov. 4, Earl “Nickey” Picard has decided to let bygones be bygones with his former right-hand man Brian Pope, announcing his support for his former employee’s runoff bid to become Lafayette’s next city marshal.
Tuesday's Blogs from the Bog!
Odell Beckham on the catch; chaos in Ferguson; snowstorm set to snarl travel and more national and international news for Tuesday, November 25, 2014.
Saturday the athletic department did everything possible to ensure the 2014 Ragin’ Cajun seniors remembered fondly their last home game. Rain and lightning never arrived but turbulence did in the form of the Appalachian State Mountaineers.
Even stranger than the Republican Party’s decision to hold a “unity rally” earlier this month for Congressman Bill Cassidy in a Baton Rouge bar, Huey’s Bar, was the fact that the establishment was named after Louisiana’s most famous Democrat.
Bar Code is not a gay bar.
After failing to pass a medical marijuana bill last year, state Sen. Fred Mills, R-Parks, is telling supporters he will return in 2015 with legislation that focuses on different applications like oils and pills.
Voters, obviously, are not yet tuned into the 2015 ballot, despite the intriguing races it will host.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Saints Street cottage or River Ranch condo
By now, the story of how longtime LSU coach Dale Brown discovered Shaquille O'Neal has been told many times: Brown happened upon a massive 13-year-old at an army base in Germany, stayed in touch with him and eventually became like a second father.
Fate simply wasn't ready to give the New Orleans Saints a break from longtime nemesis Steve Smith.
Facing opposition from a powerful industry, the governor and many in the Legislature, a New Orleans-area flood board's lawsuit against dozens of oil, gas and pipeline companies seemed doomed early on.
"I want to take an opportunity to thank the people of Lafayette for allowing me to serve you for the last three years as your school superintendent."
After Thanksgiving, the small town of Moreauville plans to confiscate and kill all rottweilers and pitbulls, including a service dog.
Lafayette Police have had a busy day.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration will use $130 million in patchwork financing from a tax amnesty program, insurance settlement, uninsured motorist penalties and other excess funds to close most of the state's midyear budget deficit.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu said she disagrees with President Barack Obama's actions on immigration, hoping the latest controversy doesn't worsen her campaign difficulties.
Two bedroom in Lafayette or two bedroom in Kaplan
Sennond trunk show at kiki
Gay-rights advocates challenging Louisiana's same-sex marriage ban announced Thursday that they have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review their case before it is heard by a federal appeals court.