OP3039. MARIE-MAGDELEINE (Massenet), Broadcast Performance, 1963, w.Bigot Cond. ORTF Ensemble; Berthe Monmart, Denise Scharley, Paul Finel & Julien Giovannetti; Historic Massenet recordings, incl.Germaine Martinelli, Léon Beyle, Léon Campagnola, Joachim Cerdan, Lucy Perelli & Lise Landouzy. (France) 2-Malibran 779. - 7600003777799
“MARIE-MAGDELEINE is an oratorio (Drame Sacré) in three acts and four parts by Jules Massenet to a French libretto by Louis Gallet, based on LA VIE DE JÉSUS (1863) by Ernest Renan. It was first performed at the Théâtre de l'Odéon in Paris on 11 April, 1873. The first staged performance took place in Nice on 9 February, 1903. It was Massenet's first success and won him the praise of Tchaikovsky, Gounod and Bizet.
The story concerns the last days of Jesus from the perspective of Mary Magdalene. The subject initially caused some controversy, as some believed that physical love was implied between Jesus and Mary Magdalene. From today's perspective those implications are difficult to detect. While it contains some beautiful music and has been revived for certain singers, notably Régine Crespin, the work has not endured and is rarely performed.
Soprano Berthe Monmart débuted at L’Opéra–Comique on 18 April, 1951 as the Countess in NOZZE. She then appeared as Ariadne in ARIADNE AUF NAXOS, Santuzza in CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA, Fiordiligi in COSÌ FAN TUTTE and Charlotte in WERTHER.
Denise Scharley was a French contralto who débuted at the Opéra-Comique on 29 November, 1942, in the role of Geneviève in PELLÉAS ET MÉLISANDE, and then at the Paris Opéra, 23 Nov., 1953, as Maddalena in RIGOLETTO. On 21 June, 1957, she created the role of the Prioress in Poulenc’s DIALOGUES DES CARMÉLITES. Denise Scharley occupied a place in the forefront of French singers. Two key roles, however, have particularly distinguished her: that of Madame de Croissy, First Prioress (DIALOGUES DES CARMÉLITES) and Mme Flora in Menotti’s THE MEDIUM. In 1951 she appeared as Carmen at the Monnaie in Brussels. She is particularly remembered for performances of SAMSON ET DALILA at the Palais Garnier in 1960. With Crespin and Gorr, she was one of the Norns in GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG, Fricka in DIE WALKÜRE and Erda in SIEGFRIED in 1958, under Knappertsbusch. In Weber’s OBERON she became Puck, under the baton of André Cluytens (1954), and young David, at the stage presentation of Arthur Honegger's KING DAVID in October 1960. In 1972, she again sang Madame de Croissy in the new production of DIALOGUES DES CARMÉLITES. In Geneva, she also had the opportunity to perform the Russian repertoire in PIQUE DAME and KHOVANSHCHINA.”
- Z. D. Akron