French-Canadian mezzo soprano Huguette Tourangeau has died at the age of 79. Perhaps best known to audiences as a frequent recording partner of Joan Sutherland’s, Tourangeau was unsurprisingly a virtuosic singer with abundant gifts. Her smoky, sizable instrument was allied with an artistic bravery that made for exciting recordings, with Tourangeau considered something of a cult diva by fans who thought she never really emerged from Sutherland’s shadow.

Huguette Tourangeau Huguette Tourangeau

Born August 12, 1938 in Montreal, she studied at the Conservatoire de musique du Québec à Montréal in 1958. Her operatic debut occurred in 1964 as Mercédès in Carmen, conducted by Zubin Mehta. That same year, Tourangeau won the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, as well as singing Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figarowith Richard Bonynge at the podium, soon to be a frequent collaborator along with Sutherland.

It was in the following year that she toured 56 cities throughout the United States as Carmen with the Metropolitan National Company. Not long after that she began performing regularly with Bonynge and Sutherland, with notable recordings including Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda, Handel’s Rodelinda, Massenet’s Esclarmondeand Meyerbeer’s Les Huguenots. A recital disc of...