Carmen - Excerpts  (Courand;   Elise Kahn, Tony Poncet, Jean Borthayre, Irene Jaumillot)  (St Laurent YSL 33-234)
Item# OP2964
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Carmen - Excerpts  (Courand;   Elise Kahn, Tony Poncet, Jean Borthayre, Irene Jaumillot)  (St Laurent YSL 33-234)
OP2964. CARMEN - Excerpts, w.Courand Cond. Karlsruhe Opera Society Ensemble; Elise Kahn, Tony Poncet, Jean Borthayre, Ir�ne Jaumillot, etc. (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL 33-234. Transfers by Yves St Laurent.


“Vezzani clearly had the better and more pure style and Luccioni the more sensuous sound and more metal, but it was Poncet (The Last of the French ‘fort ténors’) who kept those Meyerbeer operas in the repertoire at a time when so called serious critics and managers thought them old trash. Lucky for us in the eighties some singers realized what a gap of operatic history was disappearing (and what possibilities for success) and though not common, a lot of revivals have proven these operas to be a treasure trove. But none of the tenors after Poncet (surely not in France) were able to step into his vocal shoes as most of them were spintos at their best. Tony Poncet was indeed the last fort ténor.

Nowadays one is happy when a few tenors turn up at a singing contest, but in those days it was not strange to pass judgment on hundreds of hopefuls of that most rare vocal category. To win the fort ténor prize Poncet sings the ‘Celeste Aida’ as a real love song with delicate shades of mezza-voce and piano, though of course clinging to the traditional high B at the end.

Poncet made his official opera debut at the municipal theatre of Avignon. It must have been quite an occasion for Poncet as he had to sing the roles of Turiddu and Canio in one evening, no mean feat. In June 1956, he had an audition before Georges Hirsch, the general manager of the two Paris Opera Theatres. Hirsch realized Poncet’s potential and helped him improve his musical and scenic abilities. He understood the problems of Poncet’s height and decided that lack of centimetres can be an asset when singing Canio, a poor clown and a cuckolded husband. In January 1957 Poncet made his debut at the Opéra-Comique and scored a triumph. A serious critic like Roland Mancini tells us that one of the two most intense ovations he ever heard at a debut at the theatre belongs to the tenor (Robert Massard got the other one in IL BARBIERE). Then Poncet made his debut at the Opéra itself in the one aria-role of DER ROSENKAVALIER, an opera where it is plausible that the Marschallin has all kind of strange looking servants and so a very small tenor can fit easily in. Poncet was more than ably partnered by some of France’s best singers like Andrea Guiot, Gabriel Bacquier, Jean Borthayre at the Comique and Crespin at the Opéra. The voice is dark-hued as Spanish tenor voices often are and the timbre is not conventionally beautiful. But Poncet doesn’t chop up his phrases; he has legato and can sing mezza-voce (though piano is not his forte). At last here was a successor of Affre, Granal, Verdière, Luccioni and Vezzani. Always generous to a fault, he helped Toulon out on the 21st of December 1958 when their announced tenor fell ill. He sang Canio at the matinee and in the evening he appeared as Rodolfo.

Poncet was not much of an actor but how could he be with his [lack of] height in such heroic roles. He wore a pair of very high heels that, however, didn’t much improve the situation, and one of his not very nice nicknames was ‘Puss in boots’.”

- Jan Neckers

"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 � grand singing at its grandest."

- Charles H. Parsons, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, March/April, 2008

�Each of these disks, from Canadian engineer Yves St Laurent� [feature] St Laurent's natural transfer � made without filtering, like all his dubbings � it is easy to listen to, despite the surface noise.�

- Tully Potter, CLASSICAL RECORD QUARTERLY, Summer, 2011