Canadian bass Joseph Rouleau, a Royal Opera House stalwart, has died in Montreal at the age of 90.

Joseph Rouleau

Born in Matane, Quebec in 1929, Rouleau began taking voice lessons from the age of 17. He studied with French baritone Martial Singher at the Conservatoire de musique du Québec à Montréal, completing further vocal study in Milan in 1952. In 1955, Rouleau travelled to New York City to take part in the New Orleans Experimental Theatre of America competition, winning a series of engagements with New Orleans Opera. After returning to New York, the bass auditioned for and was offered his first contract by the Royal Opera House’s visiting director. He sang with the company in Cardiff, Manchester and Southampton before his house debut as Colline in La Bohèmein April 1957. It marked the beginning of an enduring association that would see the bass appear in 48 principal roles for the company over the next three decades. The company would later bestow on him its Silver Medal in recognition of his thirty years of service.

Joan Sutherland became a regular collaborator not long after Rouleau’s Covent Garden debut, which led to both singers...