Coordinator of the Vocal Sector and Assistant Professor
Office: 613-562-5800 ext. 3423
Work E-mail: criel@uOttawa.ca
Appreciated for more than the sheer beauty of her voice, Christiane Riel is recognized for the generosity and intensity of her interpretations. The heroines of Puccini, Verdi, and those of the French romantic repertoire encompass the very heart of her remarkable career. After a triumphant debut with the Canadian Opera Company, Ms. Riel has enjoyed an international career throughout Canada, the United States, and Australia. A "heartbreakingly believable" Madama Butterfly, Ms. Riel’s Cio-Cio-San is acclaimed worldwide in over 18 different productions. Since 1997, despite her professional engagements, she has devoted significant time to vocal instruction regularly giving master classes at universities, conservatories and young artists programs throughout Canada. Summer programs like Opera Nuova and the Highlands Opera Studio have also requested her expertise. From 2009 to 2013, Christiane taught voice at the universities of Wilfrid-Laurier and Western Ontario. Armed with a Graduate Diploma in Management of Cultural Organizations from HEC Montreal, Ms. Riel displays a broad understanding of the artistic, logistical and administrative components of the lyric art form.
Following studies at the Conservatoire de Musique de Montréal, she was a resident artist at l’Atelier Lyrique de l’Opéra de Montréal for two years. In 1987, she was invited to join the ranks of the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble in Toronto. These two professional training programs permitted her to explore the different facets of her craft: touring, concerts, recitals, and, indeed, opera where she was, often, assigned lead roles on the main stage. These included, among others, Antonia in Les Contes d’Hoffmann in her very first year with the COCE. As well, she participated in the creation of new Canadian works developing the title role in Zoéby Richard Désilets as well as that of Moon/June in The Unbelievable Glory of Mr. Sharp by Andrew McDonald.
Her career took a major turn when she was called to step in at short notice to perform the role of Elisabeth in the original French version of Verdi’s Don Carlos at the Canadian Opera Company, thus drawing the attention of the Canadian press. Since then, Christiane has performed with opera companies throughout Canada and the United States in such roles as Contessa in Le nozze di Figaro, Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, Micaëla in Carmen, Marguerite in Faust, The Governess in The Turn of the Screw, Hanna Glawary in The Merry Widow, Rosalinda in Die Fledermaus, Mimì in La Bohème, Liù in Turandot, Nedda in I Pagliacci, Desdemona in Otello and Alice in Falstaff to name but a few. More recently she added to her repertoire the title roles in Puccini’s Tosca and Manon Lescaut garnering warm applause and kudos for her poignant portrayals.
It is especially for her interpretation of the role of Cio-Cio-San in Madama Butterfly that Ms. Riel has earned the widest acclaim. Described as "heartbreakingly believable" she has been chosen for this role in productions including those at the San Francisco Opera, New York City Opera, Canadian Opera Company, West Australia Opera, Minnesota Opera, Edmonton Opera, Calgary Opera, Manitoba Opera, Virginia Opera, Utah Opera, Pacific Opera Victoria, Nashville Opera, Saskatchewan Opera and in concert with Seiji Ozawa and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Each performance has launched staggering ovations from the audience and rave reviews from the critics.
As comfortable in concert as she is in opera, Ms. Riel frequently appears as soloist with symphony orchestras, choral ensembles and in recital often broadcast on national radio. Notably, she has sung with L'Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, l'Orchestre Métropolitain, l’Orchestre Symphonique de Québec, Symphony Nova Scotia, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and Victoria Symphony in such diverse works as the Verdi Requiem, the Stabat Maters of Rossini and Dvorák, Poulenc's Gloria and Mendelssohn's Elijah.
Since 1997, despite her professional engagements and desiring to transmit her extensive knowledge of the voice, Christiane Riel has devoted significant time to vocal instruction in her own studio. A keen interest in better understanding the function of the vocal apparatus prompted her to take university courses on the anatomy and physiology of the voice as well as master classes with Richard Miller. Amongst her students are beginners as well as young professionals and university graduates seeking to perfect their art. Over the past few years while performing at different engagements throughout Canada, Ms Riel has successfully given master classes at several Universities and Conservatories. Recently, it was members of L’Atelier Lyrique de l’Opéra de Montréal that have benefited from Christiane’s tutelage. Summer programs such as Opera Nuova and Highlands Opera Studio have also requested her expertise as a member of their faculty. In September of 2009, Christiane enthusiastically joined the university teaching fraternity; firstly, at Wilfrid-Laurier University (2009-2010) and then at The University of Western Ontario (2010-2013).
Furthermore, during the course of her career, Ms. Riel has been invited by different educational and cultural organizations such as the Universities of British Columbia and McGill, the Brian Law Opera Scholarship Competition, Ottawa, the Canadian Music Competition and the Ontario Arts Council for whom she acted as an advisor and jury member evaluating examinations, competitions, grants and bursaries. Also, in an advisory role, Christiane has participated in various forums discussing the future and viability of opera throughout Canada. This piqued an interest in arts administration culminating in her recently successful completion with excellence of a Graduate Diploma in Management of Cultural Organizations from HEC University, Montreal. This additional perspective coupled with her extensive performing and teaching experience has given her a substantive comprehension and appreciation of the lyric arts.
Awards and achievements
1996, 1991 ― Conseil des Arts et des Lettres du Québec Grants.
1990 ― The Chalmers Performing Arts Training Grants, Ontario Arts Council.
1987 ― 1st Prize, Young Canadian Mozart Singers Competition.