OP1516. MME CHRYSANTHÈME (Messager) - Excerpts, recorded 30 Aug., 1956, w.Gressier Cond. Janine Micheau, Raphaël Romagnoni, Lucien Lovano, René Lenoty, Denise Monteil, Solange Michel, Agnès Disney & Jean Mollien. (France) Malibran 664. - 3760003776643
“MADAME CHRYSANTHÈME is an opera with music by André Messager to a libretto by Georges Hartmann and Alexandre André, after the semi-autobiographical novel MADAME CHRYSANTHÈME (1887) by Pierre Loti. It consists of four acts with a prologue and an epilogue and is set in Nagasaki, Japan, first performed on 30 January, 1893 at the Théâtre de la Renaissance in Paris. Some ten years later, Albert Carré envisaged to put on this work at the Opéra-Comique. But the composer, who was at this time musical director of Covent Garden, invited him to attend a performance of Puccini’s MADAMA BUTTERFLY which was being given for the first time in London on 10 July, 1905, under the baton of Campanini with Emmy Destinn, Caruso and Scotti. After the performance, Carré said to Messager: ‘If I put on MADAMA BUTTERFFLY, I cannot also put on MADAME CHRYSANTHÈME, it’s the same subject’. And Messager replied ‘MADAME CHRYSANTHÈME can wait’. And she is still waiting to appear at the Opéra-Comique.
There were two performances in Monte Carlo on 21 December 1901 and 3 January 1902 with Mary Garden and Edmond Clément in the principal roles. The opera was also seen at the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie, Brussels, on 9 November 1906, in Montréal in 1912, and by the Chicago Opera Company in Chicago and New York (Lexington Theatre) in 1920 with Tamaki Miura, Charles Fontaine and Hector Dufranne.
Although both operas can be traced back to the same original literary source, Puccini's MADAMA BUTTERFLY and MADAME CHRYSANTHÈME contrast strongly especially with the mainly internal world of the Puccini setting. The alternation of acts in public and private spaces in Messager's work provides other aspects on the Japan as depicted in the opera, reminding the listener of a teeming world effectively beyond the reach of Europeans: between Messager and Puccini there is a significant contrast between Pierre's failure to understand and master Chrysanthème and Pinkerton's dominance and possession of Butterfly. Messager's librettists changed Loti's original cynical attachment between the main characters into a more genuine love affair, as well as creating the jealous conflict between the two sailors. While MADAMA BUTTERFLY was successful, for CHRYSANTHÈME, this story in half tones of a fake marriage between a fine naval officer and a ravishing geisha could not compete in public favour with the violence of the Pucccinian drama despite a score of the utmost delicacy.”
- Jean Ziegler
“Janine Micheau was a French singer, one of the leading lyric sopranos of her era in France, she was born in Toulouse, and studied voice at the Paris Conservatoire. She made her professional début at the Opéra-Comique on 16 November 1933, as la Plieuse in LOUISE, following this with Loys in JUIF POLONAIS by Camille Erlanger, etc. By 1935 her performances gained her invitations to Marseille (Lakmé), and then (at the instigation of Pierre Monteux) to Amsterdam (Mélisande) and San Francisco. In Buenos Aires, Erich Kleiber conducted her in Sophie in DER ROSENKAVALIER.
She created the role of Creuse in Darius Milhaud's Médée, for her début at the Paris Opéra in 1940, where she also sang Gilda in RIGOLETTO, Violetta in LA TRAVIATA and Sophie in DER ROSENKAVALIER, among other roles.
Once the war was over, her career became more international than it had been; she performed at La Scala in Milan, La Monnaie in Brussels, Royal Opera House in London, the San Francisco Opera, and the Lyric Opera of Chicago. At these venues she sang nearly all the great French soprano roles. From 1961 she became a voice teacher at the Paris Conservatoire, and the Mozarteum in Salzburg. Her final performance was as Pamina in Rouen in May 1968. She died in Paris at the age of 62.”
- Zillah Dorset Akron
“Raphael Romagnoni, who in the course of a long career would become one of those 'essential tenors' who are regarded as 'pillars' of our Parisian opera houses, made his début at the Grand Théâtre in 1931 in CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA. His beautiful voice with its generous top notes lead to many engagements in the provinces and North Africa until World War II. In his first year at the Opéra, he sang Roméo, the Duke of Mantua, Mylio and Faust, a role that he performed with great success for several years. There followed the creations at the Palais Garnier of JEANNE d’ARC AU BUCHER in which he sang the rôle of Bishop Cauchon in all 93 performances with Claude Nollier and six times with Ingrid Bergman (Jeanne), and successively with Jean Vilar, Henry Doublier and Robert Vidalin (Frère Dominique). Later would come LES CONTES D'HOFFMANN in which he sang the title role and, at the end of his career, Spalanzani. He made his début at the Salle Favart in 1947 where he sang Don José, Des Grieux, Werther, Gérald, Hoffmann, Nadir, Pinkerton, Turiddu and Rodolfo in LA BOHEME and Alfredo in LA TRAVIATA. At the same time as his Parisian activities, he toured the big provincial towns and also abroad."
- Jean Ziegler