OP1446. LAKMÉ, recorded 1952, w.Sébastian Cond. l’Opéra-Comique Ensemble; Mado Robin, Agnès Disney, Libero de Luca, Jean Borthayre, Jacques Jansen, etc.; LAKMÉ – Excerpts, recorded 1929-31, incl. Leila ben Sédira, Miguel Villabella & Robert Couzinou. (E. U.) 2-Naxos 8.1111235/36. Transfers by H. Ward Marston. - 747313323524
“Coinciding with Erna Sack's career was that of the French soprano Mado Robin (1918-1960), a charming, modest singer who sang to the C above high C although she never commercially recorded the note. Robin's specialty was to interpolate a high B flat into her LUCIA Mad Scene as well as Dell 'Acqua's ‘Chanson Provencale’, Benedict's ‘Carnival of Venice’ (the version conducted by Benedetti), and the ‘Romance Waltz’ by Strauss. If you can't find these particular arias, rest assured that there was never an absence of altissimo excursions when Robin sang - most of her many aria and birdsong recordings have high Gs and the like sprinkled liberally throughout. Robin was a singer of taste and elegance, however, usually only incorporating her high note excursions at suitable moments. Unlike Sack's whistling high notes, Robin's were full-bodied tones of great intensity completely integrated into the rest of her instrument, and her swiftly spun upper octave was rich with harmonics. As with Sack, Robin's coloratura facility was not notable for its absolute clarity, but her sweet, childish timbre was immediately appealing to the listener as was her gentle lyricism and smooth legato line. Robin's performance in the first full Western-made recording (1952) of Delibes' exotic opera LAKMÉ (Grand Prix du Disc) is still considered classic. Robin died tragically at the age of 41 of leukemia.”
- Nicholas E. Limansky, THE LEGACY OF THE DIVA
“The times of the small and high soprano voice were almost over after the war. During the twenties and thirties Toti Dal Monte in Italy, Erna Sack in Germany and Lily Pons in France could still have huge successes in some coloratura rôles and start from there on a world career. During the fifties this became difficult as Callas succeeded in giving a whole new meaning to Mado Robin’s favourite rôle: Lucia. Robin studied with Mario Podesta, friend and co-student at Fernando de Lucia’s lessons with Georges Thill. He succeeded in giving her an excellent Italian technique: the legato is outstanding, the coloratura is fine and yes there are the unbelievable high notes, though at first Podesta was very careful. Only after several years Robin was allowed to sing a high D. Then she gradually discovered the voice upon the voice which indeed made her the highest female voice ever to sing a melodic line; contrary to some ladies like Sumac who could only hit some notes but not ascend and descend in a classic song or aria. As it became Robin’s trade mark she was always careful to interpolate some of those ‘money notes’ in her performances, there were some rows with conductors who detested her doing it though they well knew the public expected and loved it. During her LUCIA performance in San Francisco in 1954, the management requested her not to sing her usual high D above high D in the ‘Il dolce suono’ section of the mad scene for fear of offending Lily Pons who attended the performance. Mado Robin did not comply. People who heard her in that gigantic barn said the voice was more beautiful and carried better than the Pons sound. Her French colleagues tell us it was not a big sound, but it was crystal clear and projected well. The Robin voice is not only a wonder of nature but it was handled with musicality, style, charm and it has lovely and immediately recognizable colours.”
- Jan Neckers
“Robin was born in Yzeures-sur-Creuse, Touraine, where she owned the Château Les Vallées. A star of television and radio in the 1950s, she was well known in France. Among her rôles were Lakmé, which she recorded for Decca Records in 1952 (with GeorgesSébastian conducting), Lucia di Lammermoor, Olympia in THE TALES OF HOFFMANN, Gilda in RIGOLETTO, Rosina in THE BARBER OF SEVILLE, and Leyla in LES PÊCHEURS DE PERLES. In 1954, she went to San Francisco to sing Lucia and Gilda, and had a successful tour of the Soviet Union with sixteen concerts over a few weeks. She died prematurely in 1960 as a result of cancer. A museum to her life opened in her home town in 2009.”
“Libero de Luca was born in Kreuzlingen, Switzerland, and studied voice at the Zürich Coservatory with Alfredo Cairati. After winning a first prize at an international voice competition in Geneva, in 1941, he made his professional début the following year at the Solothurn Municipal Theatre. After one season at the Bern Municipal Theatre, he joined the Zürich Opera where he was first tenor from 1943 to 1949. During that period, he also appeared regularly to great acclaim at the Teatro San Carlo in Naples, the Royal Opera House in London, at La Monnaie in Brussels, and at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires. In 1949, he made his début at both the Opéra-Comique and the Palais Garnier, where he established himself as lead tenor in the French repertoire.
Libero De Luca was fluent in German, French and Italian, and excelled in all three repertoire in lyric roles. He retired from the stage in 1961, and became a full-time voice teacher in Horn, Switzerland, near Lake Constance, where he died in 1997.
De Luca made several recordings, notably in MIGNON and MANON, opposite Janine Micheau, LAKMÉ, opposite Mado Robin, and CARMEN, opposite Suzanne Juyol. There are also some operetta-recordings on Polydor, conducted by Franz Marszalek.”
“Jacques Jansen was a French baryton-martin singer, particularly associated with the role of Pelléas but also active in operetta and on the concert platform, and later as a teacher. Jansen had a wide musical and artistic education; after studying the violin in Paris, he took lessons in solfège and bassoon at the conservatoire in Tours, where he also pursued courses in fine arts. Having taken vocal lessons with Charles Panzéra, from 1938 he studied under Claire Croiza and Georges Viseur (solfège) at the Paris Conservatoire. He also took classes with René Simon and Louis Jouvet and won prizes which might have allowed to followed a career in acting. In 1939 he sang the fountain scene and the tower scene of Claude Debussy's opera PELLÉAS ET MÉLISANDE with the Orchestre National de France under Inghelbrecht, an experience which left him overwhelmed with joy.
He made his début as Pelléas at the Grand Théâtre de Genève in 1941. After his Paris début at the Opéra-Comique as Pelléas on 20 April 1941, Jansen also appeared as a singer in Fauré's ‘Masques et bergamasques’ (January 1942), Valérien in ‘Malvina’ (July 1945) and the title rôle in FRAGONARD (February 1946). Jansen recorded Pelléas with an Opéra-Comique cast under the conductor Roger Désormière in April and May 1941 with Irène Joachim as Mélisande. This recording is widely considered as a reference recording of this opera. Jansen later recorded the same rôle under André Cluytens and Inghelbrecht. He also sang the rôle under Désormière with the Opéra-Comique company at Covent Garden in June 1949, as well as in New York, Brussels, Lisbon, Berlin, Milan, Rome and Tokyo. His last performance was in Tours in March 1971.
Although best remembered for the rôle of Pelléas, Jansen also sang baroque opera: LES INDES GALANTES by Jean-Philippe Rameau; modern opera: CHRISTOPHE COLOMBE by Darius Milhaud and LES CAPRICES DE MARIANNE at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in 1956; operetta: THE MERRY WIDOW by Franz Lehár, the première of LA BELLE DE PARIS by Georges Van Parys in 1961, and Antonin in CIBOULETTE in Geneva; and Lieder. Jansen was a magnetic interpreter of Danilo in THE MERRY WIDOW, which he performed some 1,500 times in France, displaying his acting skills, which he also used in several films. He dubbed the singing voice of Alain Cuny in LES VISITEURS DU SOIR (1942). He was for five years professor at the Conservatoire in Marseille, then held a similar post at the Paris Conservatoire, finally teaching vocal technique at the Opéra-Studio.”