OP1790. LE ROI D'YS (Lalo), w.Cluytens Cond. Janine Micheau, Rita Gorr, Henri Legay, Jean Borthayre, etc.; JANINE MICHEAU, w.Darius Milhaud Cond.: 19 Songs (Acc. by the Composer). (France) 2-Malibran 696. - 3760003776964
“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 MÉDÉÉ, 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.”
"One of the greatest singers to emerge on the international opera scene in the 1950's, Gorr was an artist of intensity and versatility whose penetrating, powerful mezzo-soprano and scalding dramatic temperament made her an incomparable Dalila, a magisterial Amneris and a singularly convincing Mère Marie in DIALOGUES DES CARMELITES, which she sang in the Paris premiere of Poulenc's opera in 1957. Her voice was not to every taste - some found her timbre metallic and her upper range narrow - but few would deny that Rita Gorr had a grandeur and command of the stage unequaled in her generation. Gorr sang with the daring and shrewd sense of her own worth that recalled the divas of a previous golden age: critics reaching for superlatives most often compared Gorr to Marie Delna and Jeanne Gerville-Réache, two nonpareil French contraltos of the Belle Epoque.
Gorr's international reputation began with her appearances at the 1958 Bayreuth Festival as Fricka in DAS RHEINGOLD (her festival debut) and DIE WALKURE and the Third Norn in GOTTERAMMERUNG. The following year, Gorr returned to Bayreuth as Ortrud and bowed at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, as Amneris. La Scala welcomed her in 1960 as Kundry. Other European engagements for Gorr included appearances in Vienna, Rome, Bordeaux, Lyon, Orange, Geneva, Brussels, Ghent, Stuttgart, Barcelona and Lisbon.
She made impressive back-to-back debuts in autumn 1962 at the Metropolitan Opera, as Amneris to Leontyne Price's Aida on 17 October, followed by Dalila in the Lyric Opera of Chicago company premiere of SAMSON ET DALILA on 10 November - an assignment Gorr took over on short notice when Giulietta Simionato proved unwilling to re-learn in French a role she knew only in Italian. Gorr's New York appearances were relatively infrequent, despite the extravagant admiration of the local critics. She sang just forty-one performances of six roles during her five seasons on the Met roster - Amneris, Waltraute, Eboli, Azucena, Santuzza and Dalila, the latter in a new Met production of Saint-Saens' opera in 1964, opposite Jess Thomas and Gabriel Bacquier. Gorr also appeared in several memorable concert performances of Massenet works at Carnegie Hall, including Anita in LA NAVARRAISE (1963) and Charlotte to Nicolai Gedda's Werther (1965), both presented by the Friends of French Opera, and the title role in HERODIADE for the American Opera Society (1964), with Régine Crespin as Salome. In 1992, she sang Neris in a concert of Cherubini's MEDEE with Boston Festival Opera. Gorr's last notable U.S. opera house appearance was in 1990, as Madame de Croissy in Seattle Opera's DIALOGUES DES CARMELITES, a characterization she repeated in several subsequent stagings, including Robert Carsen's memorable 1997 production for the Netherlands Opera, and on Kent Nagano's 1990 recording with the Opéra de Lyon (Virgin). Gorr sang opera for more than fifty years. Her last opera performances were in summer 2007, when she was eighty-one, in THE QUEEN OF SPADES for Vlaamse Opera. She died after a long illness."
- F. Paul Driscoll, OPERA NEWS, 23 Jan., 2012
“Henri Legay was a French operatic tenor, primarily French-based as his light lyric voice was especially suited to the French operatic repertoire. Born in Paris, he won First Prize at the Conservatoire de Paris in 1947, and began his career singing operetta. He made his operatic début at La Monnaie in Brussels in 1950, also appearing in Lausanne. He began a long association with the Opéra-Comique in 1952, as Gérald in LAKMÉ, quickly establishing himself as one of the leading tenors of his time. He left a few recordings, LES PÊCHEURS DE PERLES, LE ROI D'YS, and most notably MANON, opposite Victoria de los Ángeles and conducted by Pierre Monteux, widely regarded as the definitive recording of Massenet's opera. Along with such early twentieth century tenors as David Devriès, Georges Thill and Léopold Simoneau, Legay represented a lost style of French operatic singing.
Jean Borthayre is proof that a French baritone can sing with great warmth, full-bodied tone, immaculate diction and fine musicality. Borthayre has it all going for him. This glorious voice is heard here in a mainly French program….This is one of the most pleasing recital discs to come my way in a very long time – grand singing at its grandest."
- Charles H. Parsons, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, March/April, 2008
“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