Fabiola Toupin is fabulous singing Aznavour
Internationally renowned Trois-Rivières native masters French chansonnier’s songs
By Byron Toben
Wildly popular in French Quebec, but relatively unknown in the Anglo milieu, is the wonderful singer with the glamorous name, Fabiola Toupin. I saw her a few years ago at one of her rare Montreal visits to the Théâtre St-Denis and was impressed by her mastery of the Jacques Brel and Edith Piaf songbooks.
That was at the start of her South American tour, capping her many concerts in France. In addition, this Trois-Rivières native has appeared as Fantine in Les Misérables and in the Quebec folk opera Un éternal hiver (The Eternal Winter) by Lynda Lemay, herself a Trois-Rivières native, who has also sung Aznavour.
Les Filles de Trois-Rivières was the sixth Aznavour song on the list of sixteen delivered by Ms. Toupin at her recent appearance at the Théâtre Outremont in a tribute entitled La Bohème – Fabiola chante Aznavour. I immediately wondered whether the Parisian born actor/songwriter/activist had Toupin and Lemay in mind as two of the three filles in that song. Apparently, no. (Mr. Aznavour, now 94, gave his own last tour in 2014 and is now the Armenian Ambassador to Switzerland.)
Anyway, Ms. Toupin used her formidable soprano voice, balanced with husky overtones in the lower registers, to enchant with such songs as La Bohème, the lead off piece (not to be confused with Puccini’s opera) and ranging from such standards as La mamma to the concluding Il faut savoir. Some jazzy, some razz matazz, some lyrical, all in the French Chanson mode evinced by the aforesaid Brel and Piaf, not to overlook Serge Gainsbourg and to some extent, Westmount-born Leonard Cohen.
… Ms. Toupin used her formidable soprano voice, balanced with husky overtones in the lower registers, to enchant with such songs as La Bohème…
In addition to the sixteen-song set, three were added for the three encores by the enthusiastic audience. Ms. Toupin raised audience interaction to a level not seen since Al Jolson in the 1920s with his boardwalk into the crowd. She selectively chose three senior men to slow dance with as they grimaced like teenage boys.
Her polished presence, blending voice, hand and body movement throughout were further enhanced by the exquisite piano accompaniment of Catherine Mourais, who switched to a resonant guitar for a few appropriate songs such as, well, Deux guitares.
Fabiola Toupin concludes her 2017 Quebec tour on June 18 in Quebec City.
She will perform in Trois-Rivières on June 22 and July 1 and 16 (talk about a loyal ‘Homie’!) and in Lac Megantic on July 22.
Images: Cécile Batéjat
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Byron Toben is the immediate past-president of the Montreal Press Club