OP3043. GENEVIÈVE DE BRABANT, Broadcast Performance, 29 Jan., 1956, w.Carivan Cond. RDF Lyrique Ensemble; Denise Duval, Monda Million, Deva Dassy, Jean Giraudeau, Michel Hamel, Robert Massard, André Balbon, Jean Mollien, etc.; LA PERMISSION DE DIX HEURES, Broadcast Performance, 24 Nov., 1952, w.Dahene Cond. Radio-Lille Ensemble; Jane Rolland, Freda Betti, André Balbon, René Lenoty & Gaston Rey (both Offenbach). (France) 2-Malibran 777. - 7600003777775
“GENEVIÈVE DE BRABANT is an opéra bouffe, or operetta, by Jacques Offenbach, first performed in Paris in 1859. The plot is based on the medieval legend of Genevieve of Brabant.
For the 1867 version a comic duet for bass and baritone in the character of two gendarmes was added to Act 2: ‘Couplets des deux hommes d'armes’. In English-speaking countries it is widely known as the ‘Gendarmes' Duet’ or the ‘bold gendarmes’, from H. B. Farnie's English adaptation. [The justly celebrated recording in English by Malcolm McEachern and Harold Williams is a staple in many serious 78rpm collections.] As well as being a popular performance-piece, it formed the basis for the U.S. ‘Marines' Hymn’.
The two-act French libretto was written by Louis-Adolphe Jaime and Etienne Tréfeu, and the opera was first staged at the Théâtre des Bouffes Parisiens, Paris on 19 November 1859. A new three-act version (in which the ‘Gendarmes' Duet’ first appeared), revised by Hector-Jonathan Crémieux, was first given at the Théâtre des Menus-Plaisirs, Paris, on 26 December 1867. An expanded five-act version was devised for a production at the Théâtre de la Gaîté on 25 February 1875. A Paris revival in 1908 at the Théâtre des Variétés with Geneviève Vix in the title role ran for 58 nights.
LA PERMISSION DE DIX HEURES is a one act opéra comique of 1867 with music by Jacques Offenbach. The French libretto, by Mélesville and Pierre Carmouche, was arranged by Nuitter with the agreement of Carmouche from the comédie-vaudeville by the same authors, first performed at the Théâtre du Palais-Royal on 17 April 1841. Offenbach's opéra comique premiered in Bad Ems and had a Paris production but did not enter the repertoire. Originally planned for 1866, the premiere of LA PERMISSION DE DIX HEURES was in Bad Ems on 9 July 1867. It received its French premiere at the Théâtre de la Renaissance on 4 September 1873 where it ran for 39 performances."
“Denise Duval didn't set out to be a muse. In 1947, as a freshly engaged contract singer, she was rehearsing MADAMA BUTTERFLY at Paris’ Opéra-Comique when a voice bellowed from the darkened auditorium, ‘That’s the soprano I need!’ It was Francis Poulenc, in search of a leading lady for his new comic opera, LES MAMELLES DE TIRÉSIAS. In his frustrated state, he’d likely have settled for almost any suitable singer; instead, he’d just found his ideal. For the next sixteen years - until the end of his life - Denise Duval was his colleague, his friend, his inspiration….it was with the Bordeaux Opéra that she made her professional stage début, in 1943, as Lola in CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA. Over her next two years there, she graduated to Santuzza and to a wide range of roles better suited to her lean, pointed, typically Gallic lyric soprano - Marguerite in FAUST, Mimì, Micaela, Mélisande, Thaïs, and the one that became an early calling-card, Cio-Cio-San. In 1945, Duval traveled to Paris for an audition at the Opéra - and wound up, through a chain of fortuitous connections, with a year’s contract at the Folies-Bergère, where night after night, discreetly costumed, she sang ‘Un bel dì’ and a Chopin song. ‘My parents were thunderstruck, and my teacher nearly had a stroke’, she recalled years later.
The Opéra and the Opéra-Comique finally beckoned, and she made her début at the bigger house, as Salomé in HÉRODIADE, and at its smaller sibling in that career-changing BUTTERFLY. When the frothy, satirical MAMELLES had its premiere, in June 1947 - incongruously, after an already full evening of TOSCA - it was ‘booed, insulted and hissed’, Duval remembered. But like so many other Parisian theatrical scandals, it quickly became an event, and Poulenc soon was writing to a friend, ‘I have an unbelievable Thérèse who is stunning Paris with her beauty, her gifts as an actress and her voice’….Her career blossomed further at both the Opéra and the Comique, where in 1949 she created another role, Francesca in Reynaldo Hahn’s posthumously staged LE OUI DES JEUNES FILLES. In 1952 and 1953, for EMI, she made her first recordings, as Concepción in L’HEURE ESPAGNOLE and as Thérèse in MAMELLES. Her professional itinerary broadened its reach to Monte Carlo, Milan, Aix, Cologne and Florence. But she didn’t hit full stride until 1957, when, at the Opéra, she sang in the French-language premiere of DIALOGUES DES CARMÉLITES, as Blanche, a role Poulenc wrote for her and one she memorably committed to disc on EMI’s still unsurpassed original-Paris-cast recording. In 1959, she scored a still more indelible success as Elle in the premiere (at the Comique) of LA VOIX HUMAINE, the Jean Cocteau monodrama couture-tailored to her talents by Poulenc. In 1960, she repeated that triumph for the opera’s British début (at Edinburgh, with Glyndebourne forces) and its American premiere, as half of an American Opera Society double bill with MAMELLES at Carnegie Hall. The latter stirred the Times’s Howard Taubman to write, ‘It is difficult to imagine a more convincing and more affecting performance than Miss Duval’s’. It led, too, to her Dallas Civic Opera début in 1961, in an elaborate THAÏS directed by Franco Zeffirelli, just as the Edinburgh engagement prompted a two-summer run at Glyndebourne as Mélisande. A broadcast of the second-year revival, from 1963, was issued on official Glyndebourne CDs.
But Poulenc had died earlier that year, and Duval never quite rallied. Following what turned out to be the last of her dozens of performances of Blanche, in Buenos Aires in 1965, she collapsed from a cortisone overdose and essentially retired from singing. After a lengthy recovery, she taught at the École Française de Musique and occasionally directed. But she left two treasured mementi of those latter years - a 1970 film (by director Dominique Delouche) of LA VOIX HUMAINE, in which she gives a riveting lip-synched performance to her own classic recording of a decade earlier; and a master class captured by Delouche in 1998, in which, still très soignée at seventy-seven, she remains the Elle with whom all her successors must reckon.
‘I’m proud that my name will always be connected with [Poulenc’s]’, she once said. The man who called her ‘my Duval’ would surely have returned the compliment.”
-Patrick Dillon, OPERA NEWS, 26 Jan., 2016
"André Balbon was a French bass opera singer, born in 1902. He was principally active in France in character roles. In 1924 he appeared in LES BURGRAVES by Léo Sachs at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, before working in the French provinces for several years.
Balbon made his début at the Paris Opéra-Comique on 1 November 1928 as un Officier in LORENZACCIO by Moret. From then until the 1940s he was a regular member of the Opéra-Comique company with an extensive repertoire. He sang in the Paris premieres of BOURGEOIS DE FALAISE by Thiriet (Sottencourt), COMME ILS S'AIMENT by Lavagne (Lustrac), ESTHER DE CARPENTRAS by Milhaud (Cacan), FOU DE LA DAME by Delannoy (Cavalier noir), FRASQUITA by Lehar (Aristide), GEORGES DANDIN by d’Ollone (Sottenville), NUIT EMBAUMÉE by Hirschmann (Ali), MON ONCLE BENJAMIN by Bousquet (Pontcassé), RAYON DE SOIERIES by Rosenthal (Monsieur Loyal), RIQUET À LA HOUPPE by Hue (Marquis de Carabas), LE ROI D'YVETOT by Ibert (Renaud), LE TESTAMENT DE TANTE CAROLINE by Roussel (Maître Corbeau), TOUT ANK AMON by Pérez (Hapousend), VIEUX GARÇONS by Urgel (von Petersboom), and ZADIG by Duperrier (Arimage).
In 1933 Balbon created the title role in Marc Berthomieu’s opérette ROBERT MACAIRE, at the Grand Théâtre in Le Havre. For two seasons, from 1953–55, Balbon sang at the Théâtre de la Monnaie, Brussels, appearing as Calchas (LA BELLE HÉLÈNE), Pomarel (LA CHASTE SUZANNE by Jean Gilbert), Gaspard (LES CLOCHES DE CORNEVILLE) and the Baron de Gondremark (LA VIE PARISIENNE).
In 1934 he appeared as Popoff in the Meilhac version of DIE LUSTIGE WITWE (La Veuve Joyeuse) at the Théâtre de la Gaîté-Lyrique in Paris and returned to the role in Geneva in February 1954 in a Grand Théâtre de Genève production starring Jacques Jansen as Danilo.
Balbon participated in FEU D'ARTIFICE by Erik Charell and JURG AMSTEIN with music by Paul Burkhard starring Suzy Delair at the Théâtre Marigny in 1952. He sang Robinet in the premiere of the comédie lyrique COLOMBE by Jean-Michel Damase and Jean Anouilh on 5 May 1961.”