OP0059. CARMEN, recorded 1950, w.Cluytens Cond. l'Opéra-Comique Ensemble; Solange Michel, Martha Angelici, Raoul Jobin, Michel Dens, etc. (Holland) 2-EMI 65318, w.64pp Libretto-Booklet. Long Out-of-Print, Final copy! - 724356531826
“…in no other recording [of CARMEN] is the fluency, the endless subtlety of Bizet’s word-setting so vividly demonstrated…. this is an extraordinary, nay unique recording….a milestone in the saga of CARMEN on record.”
- Rodney Milnes, OPERA ON RECORD, Vol.1, pp.467-68
“The LP era of Carmen was launched with two wonderful complete sets that remain touchstones of excellence. On the first, everything works beautifully and wondrously, with just enough spirit to sustain interest but without any element dominating the rest, enabling us to fully absorb the creators' masterful work without any distraction. The soloists project sufficient personality to vitalize their roles without preening for individual attention, the music is played with a sure but light touch, pacing is fleet but never rushed, enunciation clear, the monaural sound well-balanced and bright, emotions moderated but intelligible, choruses sharp and enthused but not mechanically precise, dialogue abridged and naturally conversational. No aspect stands out and some of the singing may seem somewhat bland compared to the competition, but that's really the point – above all else, there's a splendid sense of ensemble, with all forces united to contribute to a common artistic goal. Overall, the spirit of light opera – and diffident French artistry – comes shining through. Everything is confidently in place without any distractions. Although I would hate to have to do it, if I ever had to choose a single favorite CARMEN, this just might be it. Time and again, it fills me with appreciation for this ever-fresh masterwork…. the quintessential French recording of Carmen.”
- Peter Bachmann
"Solange Michel presents a Carmen of the old school. Her voice is really more contralto in quality and her diction suggests not so much a sensual gipsy as an actress at the Comedie-Française. Nevertheless, there is something fascinating and endearing about her portrayal. One simply could not find anyone today who sounds like her – and yet she was the favourite Carmen at the Opéra-Comique, where she sang the role at the 2,500th performance there and went on to notch up 500 of her own! Michel Dens is a swaggering Escamillo and Martha Angelici a convincing Micaëla. Of course, with such heavy competition where CARMEN on CD is concerned, this set is valuable principally as a document of the opera's performing tradition."
- GRAMOPHONE, Sept., 1995
“Raoul Jobin, the leading French Canadian tenor of the 1930s and 1940s, studied in his native Québec and then at the Paris Conservatoire, making both his concert and Paris Opéra débuts in 1930. After a spell back in Canada, he returned to the Opéra in 1934 and was a valued member of the company thereafter. He made his Covent Garden début in 1937 and from 1940 to 1950 was regularly engaged at the Metropolitan in New York, also singing with other companies in North and South America. He sang at the Opéra-Comique from 1946. Although he was best known in the French repertoire, Jobin also appeared with success in Italian rôles and the lighter Wagnerian parts. He taught singing in Montréal from 1957 and made his final stage appearance the following year. His exciting voice can be heard on many recordings.
Michel Dens ranks with Robert Merrill and Pavel Lisitsian as one of the great lyric baritones of the period after the Second World War. Born in Roubaix, he studied the violin as a boy and planned to go into the textile business, but was urged to take his singing seriously, studied at the local Conservatoire and made his début in 1934 at Lille as Wagner in FAUST. After learning his craft in such cities as Bordeaux, Grenoble, Toulouse, Marseille and Monte Carlo, he arrived in 1947 at both the Opéra and the Opéra-Comique in Paris. As a guest artist he sang at many opera houses in France, Belgium, Switzerland, Canada and North Africa. Gifted with a high-lying voice of great beauty and flexibility, he was equally at home in the French repertoire and in such Italian rôles as Rigoletto and Figaro. He was also a wonderful singer of both French and Viennese operetta, and could even handle Tauber’s rôles in Lehár’s works convincingly. Dens had a long career and was still singing well at the age of eighty. Fortunately he made a vast quantity of recordings.”
- Tully Potter
“André Cluytens was among the leading French conductors of his time. His father, Alphonse, was conductor at the Royal French Theater of Antwerp. André became his assistant and a choirmaster there. When an illness prevented Alphonse from conducting, André made his performance début in 1927. After that experience he devoted his efforts to orchestral and opera conducting rather than choral work, and he became a resident conductor in the house.
In 1932 he accepted a position as the musical director of orchestral concerts at the Capitole de Toulouse, and he became a French citizen. In 1935 was appointed the opera director in Lyons. He was an assistant of Josef Krips in a summer series in Vichy and, once again, was called on to substitute when that conductor could not perform. He became musical director of the Lyons Opera in 1942, conductor of the Conservatoire Concerts and the French National Radio Orchestra in Paris in 1943, and in 1944 conducted at the Opéra de Paris. From 1947 to 1953 he was music director of the Paris Opéra-Comique, and in 1949 was appointed as principal conductor of the Conservatory Concerts. He retained that position for the rest of his life. In 1955 he was invited to conduct LOHENGRIN at the Bayreuth Festival, the first French person to appear on the podium there. He débuted in the United States in 1956, and in Britain in 1958, when he substituted for Otto Klemperer. He formed a close relationship with the Vienna State Opera, which he first conducted in 1956, becoming a permanent guest conductor in 1959. In 1960 he became conductor of the Belgian National Orchestra in Belgium, also holding that post until his death. He also formed a close link with the Berlin Philharmonic, with which he made a notable recording of the Beethoven symphonies. However, he was primarily known for French repertoire, premiering works by Françaix, Jolivet, Messiaen, Milhaud, Tomasi, Büsser, and Bondeville. He was invited back to Bayreuth in 1965.”
- Joseph Stevenson, allmusic.com