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Véronique Gens

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Veronique Gens is generally considered among the most prominent sopranos on the opera and recital stages in the 21st century. She became associated with Baroque repertory early in her career, but soon branched out into the operas of Mozart and later into works by Berlioz, Fauré, Debussy, and Poulenc. Born into a family with largely medical backgrounds (her father was a prominent doctor), she began singing in a choir as a child but, choosing to study English, planned to become an interpreter. In her teens, however, she shifted her focus to music and went on to win first prize for early music at the Paris Conservatory. Conductor William Christie introduced her to Baroque repertory, and in 1986 she scored her first success with him when she appeared with Les Arts Florissants under his direction. Her further notable appearances included Purcell's The Fairy-Queen at the 1989 Aix-en-Provence Festival and Lully's Phaëton, in 1993, at the Opéra de Lyon. The following year there her portrayal of the Countess in Mozart's Marriage of Figaro received wide acclaim and catapulted her to international stardom. By this time, too, her recordings of The Fairy-Queen and Rameau's Castor et Pollux, made several years earlier, had also garnered positive notice. In the 1996-1997 season, she sang Mary in Berlioz's L'enfance du Christ. Easily among her most notable recordings was the René Jacobs-led 1999 release of Così fan tutte on Harmonia Mundi. In 2001 Virgin Classics released her rendition of the Berlioz song cycle Les nuits d'été, with the Orchestre de l'Opéra national de Lyon led by Louis Langrée. In 2004, she appeared in Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande at the Deutsche Oper Berlin. Gens has personally stated a preference for Mozart and, besides singing the Countess and Fiordiligi, has sung Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni) and Vitellia (La Clemenza di Tito). She considers Mozart the perfect bridge for her other favorites, Baroque repertory and French music from the 19th and early 20th centuries. Gens has sung with some of the most important European conductors throughout her career, including Claudio Abbado, Philippe Herreweghe, Marc Minkowski, and Jean-Claude Malgoire, who was instrumental in assigning her roles in her first Mozart operas. Besides Harmonia Mundi and Virgin Classics, Gens has recorded for L'Oiseau-lyre, Erato, and Archiv. She gave birth to a daughter in 2000. In 2006, Gens made the first of her Tragediennes solo recordings, with a third volume released in 2011.

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