Even before hearing Rose Naggar-Tremblay’s sumptuous voice, I was reading her blog, fascinated by her intelligence, authenticity, and outstanding writing talent.
Clearly, such an artist had a lot to offer to the lyrical stage. During the last few months, she had many opportunities to display her rich contralto voice on stage, and her talent has been rewarded in international competitions. Indeed, this multi-talented artist, who describes herself as a ‘lyrical singer-songwriter’, never ceases to amaze us.
During her training at the Opéra de Montréal’s Atelier Lyrique, this statuesque six-foot-plus singer—endearingly nicknamed La Grande Rose artist—who distinguished herself by her keen interest in cultural outreach. While there she used her creative energy to write booklets and create shows for younger audiences. As soon as she left the Atelier, Rose was ready to travel: “Travel is in my DNA”, she says. “My father was born in Germany, my mother in Egypt, stories of estrangement have cradled my childhood.” At McGill University, she earned a minor in European culture and literature, and took creative writing… in Italian! “Writing was a refuge during my music studies. When life goes too fast, I like to go back to it because it allows me to take stock of the experience. For example, when I recently went back to write poetry, I realized how much I had absorbed in the last year. The rhythms, the colours had changed and I could track it to the music I had performed: this comes from Respighi!”
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Wisely, she took her studies in European culture in anticipation of a future career and also as a way to establish common ground with the people she would meet overseas. Her first trip was extremely fruitful. A scholarship from the Jeunes Ambassadeurs Lyriques lead to contracts in Germany, Italy, Korea, Bulgaria and the Netherlands. In October 2021, a few days after winning First Prize in the opera category in the George Enesco Paris Competition, she made her European debut in the title role of Carmen at the Sofia Opera (Bulgaria).
Back home in November 2021, Rose was awarded First Prize at the Montreal Symphony Competition. Most notably, she was also awarded the prize for best interpretation of a Canadian work with Healing, a song cycle for which she wrote the texts and co-composed with Éric Champagne.
The hot summer of 2022 has been intense for Rose. After she was nominated Radio-Canada’s Révélation 2022-2023 she gave many concerts in the Montreal area including an acclaimed performance of Respighi and Mahler songs at Lanaudière where she participated in a forum for young artists. When we met there in August, she was absorbed by her new EP which will be recorded in September. Under the intriguing title “Je me souviens à toi”—I commit myself to your memory, it will feature a cycle of six or seven songs, music and texts by Rose, telling a story where Paris figures at the start and arrival point. “Paris has always been a dream. Paris is where we find ourselves.” This time, instead of accompanying herself on the piano, she decided to create real chamber music, with a pianist, double bass and string quartet.
Rose refuses to be confined to a specific repertoire or to the mezzo-soprano aria book. She enjoys singing early music, contemporary works, Bach, Mozart and Rossini in the lower register: “Give me a Malcolm, Isabella, Tancredi, Bradamante, I will jump in!”
“I do not believe in vocal branding but I have decided to ‘come out’ as a contralto. I am shaping my career in saying NO. On a recent audition tour in Europe, I received proposals for ten engagements and accepted two.” She has bookings planned until 2025. Meanwhile, at the end of August, she was bringing her stunning presence and her songs to the Fashion and Design Urban Festival in Montreal: “I am very excited about this! We will dance!”
*this text was originally published in the fall 2022 print version of Opera Canada magazine. Click here to subscribe and support Opera Canada.
Speed Round with ROSE NAGGAR-TREMBLAY
Trust in your gut feelings
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ILAST NOTEWORTHY BOOK I READ…
By Byung-Chul Han
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‘Those who leave’ on the search for identity, migratory journeys, especially women.