OP2890. SIGURD - Abridged (Reyer), w.Etcheverry Cond. Gustave Botiaux, Lyne Cumia, Jacqueline Silvy, René Bianco, Félix Giband, etc. (France) Malibran 765. - 7600003777652
“Gustave Botiaux, who was most popular with l’Opéra-Comique, was a splendid lyric tenor, but not without some reinforced steeliness when needed. He is easy throughout the range, except perhaps in some of the ruinous low notes….Silvy…married to Botiaux, made her début in 1949 and in 1960 appeared at the Paris Opéra and the Opéra-Comique….[has] a lovely lyric soprano, something akin to Pierrette Alarie’s but with more strength…We hear only briefly from well-known baritone René Bianco as Gunther….he had a long career, making his début in 1934 as a bass before tackling baritone roles….He continued to sing until the 1980s and died only in 2008, just short of his 100th birthday….
SIGURD is an extremely rare work and this disk [only of highlights, lasting just over an hour] should be of interest to every collector.”
- David Cutler, THE RECORD COLLECTOR, 2015
“The Nibelung and Volsung legends are so identified with Wagner's gigantic RING cycle it is hard to imagine any other musical garb. But there was, or is, and French at that, as the opera company at Montpellier has just recalled with a revival of Ernest Reyer's SIGURD. [In America, the opera was first performed on 24 December 1891 at the French Opera House in New Orleans, and the Teatro alla Scala in Milan performed it in 1894. Since then it has had periodic revivals (but only in France or Monaco); then, after World War II, it was staged in 1963 and 1995 at the Opéra de Marseille.]
In its day, SIGURD was easily the best known of the half dozen stage works by Reyer, a largely self-taught composer and prolific critic and writer on music. Wagner was still working on the RING when Reyer began with the same material in the 1860s, but after repeated rejections by the Paris Opéra, Reyer's work reached the stage only in 1884 in Brussels, eight years after Wagner's in Bayreuth. Paris followed a year later, and kept SIGURD in the repertory until 1935 (when Marjorie Lawrence and Martial Singher were in the cast). But since then it has depended on the occasional revival outside the capital.
The story corresponds roughly to that of GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG, centering on the trickery by which Sigurd (a/k/a Siegfried) is induced by Gunther to forget Brunehild and marry Hilda (Wagner's Gutrune), with similar tragic results. But the story is taken at face value, courtly rather than prehistoric in atmosphere, and without Wagner's political subtext or his susceptibility to modern psycho-musical analysis. Reyer was an admirer of Wagner (also of Gluck, Weber and Berlioz), but there is hardly a trace of Bayreuthian influence here. There is some use of recurrent themes, although nothing like the symphonic complexity with which Wagner used his leitmotivs. On the strength of SIGURD, Reyer seems not to have been a strongly individual composer, but a highly literate one, and this score comes across as a kind of anthology of 19th-century French romantic opera. He has the French composer's sure touch for colorfully exotic scoring and a facile way with attractive but forgettable melodic lines, but not great force of personality.”
- David Stevens, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 18 May, 1994
“Gustave Botiaux is a French operatic tenor who was winner of the Cannes competition in 1954. He was soon engaged as first tenor at the Theâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels, then soon thereafter the Paris Opéra. Botiaux’s voice tone is of a of rare quality; an athletic physique and outsized charisma naturally led to performances as Samson, Radames, Lohengrin, Jean, Roméo, Faust, Don José, Werther, Julien in a memorable LOUISE, plus Mario in TOSCA, the Duke of Mantua, Turridu and Pinkerton. Botiaux was most popular with l’Opéra-Comique where he lent his booming voice, his enthusiasm and his presence in Turridu, while the legendary Tony Poncet triumphed in Canio. His constant success in all jobs led to Japan and the USSR.
It was France which gave him two of his most iconic roles: Vasco de Gama in L'AFRICAINE, and, more importantly, the role of Sigurd in which he evoked the reputation of its famous predecessors, including César Vezzani and José Luccioni.
In 1960, he recorded four operatic recitals (33 rpm and 45 rpm) and a few selections from these recordings have been reissued as a double CD album with Malibran-Music.
Jésus Etchéverry was a French operatic conductor who became musical director at the opera house in Nancy, a post he held from 1947 until 1957. He also conducted the summer opera seasons in Luchon, Enghien and Angoulême. In 1957, he was named first conductor at the Opéra-Comique, where he remained until 1972. Beginning in 1966, he also conducted at the Palais Garnier. He became musical director of the opera house in Nantes in 1972, and then took the musical direction of the opera house in Nancy in 1977. Although his career was essentially spent in France, he did make guest appearances abroad, notably in London, Lausanne and Barcelona, where he was much appreciated in the French repertory. He left valuable recordings of Gounod's MIREILLE, and Massenet's THAÏS and WERTHER.”
- Loyal Bluto