Boky, Colette

Colette (Marie-Rose Élisabeth) Boky (b Giroux). Soprano, b Montreal 4 Jun 1935; premier prix voice (CMM) 1962. In 1953 Jean Deslauriers heard her at an amateur competition and advised her to study voice, which she did 1953-5 at the École Vincent-d'Indy, and later privately with Laurette Bailly. She won first prize in a 1958 competition organized by the Montreal radio station CKVL, then studied in the summer of 1959 at the RCMT opera workshop and 1959-62 at the CMM with Raoul Jobin, Roy Royal, Otto-Werner Mueller, Dick Marzollo, and Rémus Tzincoca. In May 1961 she made her stage debut in Chicoutimi, Que, as Rosina in a Théâtre lyrique de Nouvelle-France production of The Barber of Seville. She sang the title role in Lakmé in Quebec City with the same company the following year. After winning the 1962 Prix d'Europe she continued her studies in Paris with Janine Micheau and Jobin, and the same year won second prize and a medal at the Geneva International Competition for musical performers. She made her European debut in 1964 in Haydn's L'Apothicaire, performed first in Versailles and then at the Théâtre de France in Paris.

At the Bremen Opera 1964-5 Boky sang Despina in Così fan tutte and the title role in Stravinsky's Le Rossignol. In 1965 she was Sandrina in Mozart's La Finta giardiniera at the Salzburg Festival and took the leading soprano role in Rossini's La Scala di seta at the Munich Festival (the latter production repeated at the Schwetzingen festival). In the same year she sang Frau Fluth in a film version of Nicolai's The Merry Wives of Windsor and the leading soprano role in Gounod's Le Médecin malgré lui, directed by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle at the Cuvilliés Theatre in Munich. She also was a soloist in orchestral concerts on Bavarian Radio.

In 1966 Boky sang several roles with the Volksoper in Vienna and appeared in Carl Orff's Carmina burana with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. She also appeared that year in Haydn's The Creation, with the Munich Bach Choir and Orchestra under Karl Richter (performing not only in Munich but also, on tour, in Montreal and New York), and in the title role in Offenbach's La Belle Hélène at the PDA with the Théâtre lyrique de Montréal.

Boky's 1967 Metropolitan Opera debut, as Queen of the Night in The Magic Flute, made her an international star. In 1967 she also sang her favourite role, Manon (in the Massenet opera), with the Théâtre lyrique de Nouvelle-France in both Quebec City and Montreal, and the roles of Rosina (The Barber of Seville) and Olympia (The Tales of Hoffmann) with the COC in Toronto and Montreal. She was a guest of numerous symphony orchestras in Canada and the USA. In 1973 she repeated Manon with the Opéra du Québec and sang the title role in La Belle Hélène for Festival Ottawa. She returned to Festival Ottawa the following year to sing Adèle in Rossini's Le Comte Ory, and in 1976 for the company's revival of La Belle Hélène, with performances in Ottawa and, in honour of the US bicentenary, in Washington, DC. That same year she sang the title role in Thaïs in Nice. Meanwhile, her career had flourished at the Metropolitan Opera. By 1978 she had sung more than 25 leading roles there, notably Juliette in Roméo et Juliette, Marguerite in Faust, Violetta in La Traviata, Gilda in Rigoletto, Lucia in Lucia di Lammermoor, Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier, the four soprano roles - Olympia, Giulietta, Antonia, and Stella - in The Tales of Hoffmann, and Adina in L'Elisir d'Amore. She also appeared in the Metropolitan Opera's 1978 live telecast of the Bartered Bride. She has repeated her best roles with companies in Hartford, Conn, Miami, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, and San Francisco, has appeared in numerous concerts and opera performances on CBC and BBC TV and has given radio recitals, particularly of French song and Lieder, in which she excels.

Boky began teaching at UQAM in 1981 and was artistic director 1986-8 of its opera studio, staging Poulenc's Dialogues des Carmélites in 1987. She was awarded the 1971 Prix de musique Calixa-Lavallée, and the 1986 Prix Denise-Pelletier from the Quebec governement. In 1974 on CBC TV she was the subject of 'Portrait d'une artiste,' a program distributed internationally to French TV networks.