International Opera Star Soprano, Teacher, Organist
Marguerite Gignac is an internationally recognized soprano, who has performed in operas across North America and Europe.
Born in Windsor in 1928, Gignac studied at the Ursuline School of Music from 1939-1948, and from 1943-1947 was the primary organist at Sacré-Coeur Church in LaSalle, Ont.
Moving on to the Royal Conservatory of Music of Toronto, Gignac was awarded first honours and a cash scholarship of $1000.00 in the “CIL Singing Stars of Tomorrow” radio competition in 1952, against 44 competitors. Due to her success she was chosen to make a fourteen-city concert tour of Western Canada with singer Rex Battle.
Marguerite’s career continued to bloom after this. Ms. Gignac studied from 1952-1954 with composer, conductor and theoretician Roberto Lupi at the Villa Schifanoia in Florence and worked during the summer of 1953 with Ernst Reichert in Salzburg. The following summer she trained at Accademia Chigiana in Siena, touring with Lupi and the Teatro Nuovo orchestra. As her operatic career continued around the world Ms. Gignac performed as a soloist for the Grand Opera du Montreal and during the 1959-60 season she toured Quebec, the Maritimes, and France for the JMC and toured in the USA with the Goldovsky Grand Opera Theater, taking part in performances of Roméo et Juliette, Rigoletto, and Don Giovanni. After a concert at the Mont-Royal Chalet, critic Jean Paré wrote “Marguerite Gignac is an exceptional coloratura who combines technical mastery with a voice that has a rare mellow quality throughout its entire register” (La Presse, Montreal, 11 Aug. 1960).
In 1961 Gignac married US flutist William Hedges and settled in St. Paul, Minnesota, but still continued to perform abroad. She was Marguerite in the Opera Guild of Montreal’s 1963 production of Faust and Musetta in its 1966 La Bohème at the Place des Arts. Also, in 1966 she sang Philine in Mignon with the Théâtre lyrique de Nouvelle-France. After 1967 she appeared often as soloist with the St Paul Chamber Orchestra. Marguerite Gignac began to teach opera and singing at St. Catherine’s College in Minnesota as well at the University of Minnesota since 1963. She has continued to record and perform.
“Windsor Soprano wins top award”. Ottawa Citizen, April 21, 1952, p. 2.
The Canadian Encyclopedia. “Marguerite Gignac”. http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/marguerite-gignac-emc/
Gardiner, John. “Ford of Canada to Sponsor Marguerite Gignac, Soprano.” Windsor Daily Star (Windsor, Ontario), December 17, 1956, p.17 (no link available).