Damase DuBuisson, singer (1879-1945)

Damase Champagne was born in Québec in 1879 and began his theatre career there in 1896 playing male leads. In 1898, he married Blanche Fournier, a Québec singer; the two performers made a career together, both taking the surname DuBuisson.

The DuBuissons spent a year in Québec as part of Mr. Grévin's troupe (of which Elzéar Hamel was also a member), before making their professional debut in Montréal in 1899, at the Eldorado, the most chic concert café of its day.

In 1900 or 1901, Damase and Blanche DuBuisson played alongside one another in productions of operas and operettas such as Carmen, Les cloches de Corneville and La mascotte in Sohmer Park, under the direction of Ernest Lavigne. That same year, the couple toured Saint-Pierre and Miquelon twice with the Henri Miro troupe.

In 1902, the couple's biggest hit song, "Le papillon et l'hirondelle," made them a popular attraction at the Bijou theatre (then located on de La Gauchetière Street, in Montréal). Damase DuBuisson's flair for comedy led him to perform in popular vaudeville comedies at the Bijou theatre, alongside various singers, including Albert Roberval, Louis Vérande, and Lucien Boyer.

In 1903, he returned to Québec, where he performed in a series of operettas, alongside his wife, as well as Rose Delyus, Juana Laviolette, and Victor Occellier. He also played at the Théâtre national and the Théâtre Les Nouveautés. In 1906, Damase DuBuisson and Ernest Ouimet founded the Cinéma Ouimetoscope. Two years later, Damase DuBuisson opened the Nationascope, the first theatre to show animated films in the province of Quebec.

In 1909, following another period in Québec, the DuBuissons returned to Montréal, and were hired by Montesano and Alphonse Demers. Damase took over artistic direction at the Théâtre Les Nouveautés, and the couple performed and sang in various plays there. This led to tours with Albert Roberval, Albert Duquesne, Paul Coutlée, and Elzéar Hamel. At the Théâtre canadien-français (located at the corner of Sainte-Catherine and Saint-André streets, in Montréal), Damase DuBuisson introduced a number of operetta performances with a troupe that included Jeanne Maubourg, Simone Rivière, Darcy, Armand Robi and Hector Pellerin.

From 1911 to 1915, he held the post of artistic director at the Nationascope. In September 1916, at the urging of Roméo Beaudry, Damase DuBuisson recorded 14 musical selections for Columbia Records in New York. This recording includes popular Paris café songs of the day ("Mon p'tit cœur," "La petite innocente") as well as songs about French-Canadian regiments posted in Europe ("Le rêve de Bibi," "Bibi s'en va-t-en guerre," "Bibi en baloune") by Quebec composer Almar Perrault.

During the 1920s, Damase DuBuisson was featured at the main theatres in Montréal and Québec. In 1926, he recorded 10 songs for his friend Roméo Beaudry's Starr label. The DuBuissons performed frequently on the radio in the 1930s, notably in the soap opera "Le curé de village" (CKAC, 1932-1935), by Robert Choquette. In 1934, Damase DuBuisson became artistic director of the theatre section of Montréal's unemployment insurance office. Damase DuBuisson passed away in February of 1945.

During his 40-year career, Damase DuBuisson performed in over 800 dramas, comedies, and operettas.

Source: Unpublished research notes by Robert Thérien, music researcher, Montréal

Selected recordings available

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