I discovered yesterday something quite interesting: one of the versions of one of my favourite silent horror movies, The Phantom of the Opera, has my former opera teacher as the singer in the soundtrack. The Phantom of the Opera, Special Collector's Edition, which is maybe the most easily available high-quality versions of the classic movie in the UK (according to this guy, a Phantom buff), used a score interpreted by I Musici of Montreal, with the voice of Claudine Côté for the songs (mainly Faust arias),which was originally used back in the early 1990s. I loved that version, even though I only knew Claudine by reputation then. You can find more about it here.
With my love of horror stories and my love of operas, I was bound to discover the story. I first came to the Phantom through Gaston Leroux's original novel, rather than any cinematic version, or the Andrew Lloyd Webber's cheesy, marshmallow musical (which I used to like, but not anymore). It is a shame that the musical is now its most famous version, because the novel was a great read and the 1925 silent movie was both a very faithful adaptation and an entertaining, terryfying horror flick. The novel also made me discover Faust.
So yes, I love The Phantom of the Opera, but I wanted this post to be more about Claudine than the Phantom. Getting info about the silent movie made me remember that I once was friend with her, which makes it weird to see her name on Amazon or imdb. Back when she did the soundtrack, she was quite a famous soprano in Québec, having sung with Pavarotti right after she graduated. Now she is criminally underrated. When I started university in Montreal, I was looking for a new singing teacher (well, "new", I had only started a few months earlier) and got Claudine's phone number through a friend (small world, but it is true that she was from Saguenay like myself). She was living close to my flat, she was a respected singer, so she was the obvious choice. It was nice to do something different than literature and it was really a great hobby. Since I knew close to nobody in Montreal, the lessons cured me for any feeling of loneliness. Claudine taught me quite a lot and it is in great parts thanks to her that I still have a pretty good singing voice and a relatively good Italian pronunciation. She was also a great person to talk to, always smiling and enthusiastic. And a cat lover. She loved cats so much, she was adopting half the alley cats in her neighbourhood. She even saved the animals of a pet shop near her place when its building went on fire. So she was a generous person too. (And thinking about it, my wife would love her, as she was also an almost vegetarian for ethical reasons). I still remember her tone of voice when was calling me, always starting the conversation with "Bonjour Guillaume, c'est Claudiiiiiiiine", with the "i" prolonged, I think it was due to her line of work. She had gained an "accent chantant".
So I only have nice memories of her. I never got into contact with her after the three years it took me to do my degree in Montreal. I left for England in 1999 and never managed to get in touch with her after that. It is a shame really, as she was important to my artistic/dilettante life at the time. But hey, I can still listen to her, I can even find her voice here in England. So not all is lost.
2 hours ago