“ … his brilliant top voice shook the rafters. His final act E lucevan le stelle had members of the audience literally in tears.”
Times Colonist, Victoria, B.C.,
Tenor Marc Hervieux’s story is one that could convince grown-ups to believe in fairy tales again. Is it really possible that this down-to-earth, 40 year-old Québecois singer who exudes sincerity and bonhomie is a renowned tenor with invitations to perform at the world’s leading opera houses? And can it be that the Marc Hervieux who grew up in Montréal’s working-class district of Hochelaga-Maisonneuve in a home where country music trumped opera, is the same Marc Hervieux who has given command performances for everyone from George W. Bush to Carl Gustav XVI, the King of Sweden?
The answer is a resounding “yes”, but Hervieux is unfazed by the celebrity factor and insists that, “I didn’t set out to be a star, I wanted to be a singer.” His modest attitude belies the fact that he receives invitations from the likes of Zubin Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic, and Valery Gergiev at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg. The tenor has also been a principal artist at New York’s Metropolitan Opera since 2006, and has performed opposite such opera greats as Renée Fleming, Bryn Terfel, Lyne Fortin, and Anna Netrebko.
Marc Hervieux’s career has reached a level he could not have imagined during his early years as a graphic designer, when he sang occasionally with a rock band. He insists, however, that the fame is the just the icing on the cake, and that he commits himself fully to the task at hand, regardless of whether he is performing on one of the world’s legendary stages or that of his hometown opera company. “I don’t decide that I should sing better because I’m at the Met. I try to do my best all the time”, says Hervieux.
Despite the heady successes of this relatively late-bloomer who only learned to read music at age 24, Hervieux remains refreshingly true to his roots and maintains a close connection with his old Montréal neighbourhood. Every Christmas for many years, he has returned to sing midnight mass at the church Très-Saint-Nom-de-Jésus, specifically Minuit, chrétiens (Oh, Holy Night) – a tradition that is recreated on his classical recording debut for ATMA, Le premier Noël, which reached top ten status among classical CDs in Canada soon after its release in the fall of 2009.
Hervieux is living proof that a privileged upbringing is not a prerequisite for success. While he encourages young people to dream big and go beyond perceived limitations, he takes his own success in stride and puts it into perspective: When his agent called to tell him that his latest pop recording had gone gold, holding its own at the top of the charts alongside Michael Jackson, his response was, “That’s great, that’s fantastic, but I didn’t expect any of that.”
Perhaps it is this ability to remain true to himself that allows Hervieux to comfortably inhabit both the classical and popular music worlds. A quick search on Google brings up videos of the tenor singing everything from Gounod’s demanding arias from the opera Faust, to the theme from Love Story. Though he had already established an enviable international operatic career, it was his 2005 role as the Businessman in the wildly popular Franco-Québécois rock opera Starmania that has made him a household name among people who had never set foot inside an opera house. Likewise, his collaborations with Québec legend Ginette Reno and pop star Patsy Gallant, among others, opened doors to audiences that many classically-trained singers would ignore. And unlike the recent crop of tenors who are pre-packaged for mass-market appeal, Hervieux has a true depth of talent that rivals that of any of the great opera stars on the world stage today. “Tenor Marc Hervieux is even more commanding here, his singing in the central role of Cavaradossi thrilling and absolutely first class. This is a fully mature vocal performance of the role, consistent with the best international standards.” (Calgary Herald)
Though Marc Hervieux says he doesn’t have a grand scheme for his career, he admits that he chooses his projects very carefully according to an important criterion: “I want to be happy with what I do. I try to respect that impulse and be true to the things that are meaningful for me, like family. I have no regrets!”
© Luisa Trisi, 2010