OP3035. MANON, recorded 1955, w.Monteux Cond. l'Opéra-Comique Ensemble; Victoria de los Angeles, Henri Legay, Michel Dens, Jean Borthayre, Jean Vieuille, etc.; Victoria de los Angeles, w.Jacquillat Cond.Lamoureux Orch.: Poème de l'amour et de la mer (Chausson), recorded 1969. (Germany) 3-EMI 63549, w.Elaborate 77pp Libretto-Brochure. Very long out-of-print, final ever-so-slightly used copy. - 077776354927
"In Act 2, Manon, reading the letter her lover Des Grieux is writing to his father, sings the line, ‘nulle voix n'a plus de doux accents’ (‘no voice has a sweeter sound’). It wouldn't surprise me if Victoria de los Angeles blushed while singing it, for she's perfectly describing her luscious, characterful soprano at the peak of its powers in 1955, when this best of all recorded Manons was made... no opera collection should be without this Manon."
"de los Angeles' Manon is recognized as one of the supreme operatic impersonations of recent times....Her farewell to the little table is a masterpiece of vocal control and evocative sentiment....Her Gavotte is wonderfully intimate and knowing in the opening phrases..."
- Paul Jackson, SIGN-OFF FOR THE OLD MET, p.34
"[Pierre Monteux] seems fond of…Victoria de los Angeles in the days of her utmost loveliness of voice and personality….allowing her every utterance space and freedom to work its spell. Orchestra and chorus respond, as do the soloists, to this veteran, nigh on 80 at the time…."
- John Steane, GRAMOPHONE, Aug., 2006
“For sheer loveliness of timbre, affecting sensitivity, elegance of line and utter ease in florid passagework, de los Angeles was hard to top. By the 1950s she was a mainstay of opera houses around the world and widely admired for her portrayals of leading lyric soprano roles, including Puccini's Mimi and Madama Butterfly, Verdi's Violetta, Massenet's Manon, Bizet's Carmen and Debussy's Mélisande. Though her sound was not enormous, she knew how to project her voice so that it carried effortlessly in the opera house. She even sang lighter Wagner roles with effectiveness and allure, including Elisabeth in TANNHÄUSER, the role of her 1961 Bayreuth Festival debut in Germany, and Eva in DIE MEISTERSINGER.
‘We are a people that sings naturally’, she said in a 1980 interview, adding, ‘When we have a sorrow, it is a wonderful sorrow; when we have a happiness, it is a wonderful happiness, it is a big happiness’."
- Anthony Tommasini, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 16 Jan., 2005
“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
“Michel Dens ranks with Robert Merrill and Pavel Lisitsian as one of the great lyric baritones of the period after the Second World War. Born in Roubaix, he studied the violin as a boy and planned to go into the textile business, but was urged to take his singing seriously, studied at the local Conservatoire and made his début in 1934 at Lille as Wagner in FAUST. After learning his craft in such cities as Bordeaux, Grenoble, Toulouse, Marseille and Monte Carlo, he arrived in 1947 at both the Opéra and the Opéra-Comique in Paris. As a guest artist he sang at many opera houses in France, Belgium, Switzerland, Canada and North Africa. Gifted with a high-lying voice of great beauty and flexibility, he was equally at home in the French repertoire and in such Italian rôles as Rigoletto and Figaro. He was also a wonderful singer of both French and Viennese operetta, and could even handle Tauber’s rôles in Lehár’s works convincingly. Dens had a long career and was still singing well at the age of eighty. Fortunately he made a vast quantity of recordings.”
- Tully Potter