OP3188. LE ROI MALGRÉ LUI, recorded 1960, w. Bigot Cond. Janine Micheau, Christiane Castelli, Willy Clément, Michel Cadiou, Xavier Depraz, Lucien Lovano, etc.; UNE EDUCATION MANQUÉEE - excerpts, recorded 1953, w.Bruck Cond. Claudine Collart, Christiane Castelli & Xavier Depraz (both Chabrier); CHRISTIANE CASTELLI: Chabrier Songs, recorded 1954. (France) 2-Malibran 772. - 7600003777720
"’I would rather have written LE ROI MALGRÉ LUI than the RING OF THE NIBELUNGEN’. So wrote Maurice Ravel of Emmanuel Chabrier's comic opera LE ROI MALGRÉ LUI, or The Reluctant King….Chabrier completed it in early 1887 after just nine months of work, producing a lively and melodic score as well as a diverse one - patter song, love music, a bit of heavy Wagnerian drama (reflecting Chabrier's love of the music of the German master), and energetic dances are all part of the mix.
The opera is based, loosely, on historical figures and events….LE ROI MALGRÉ LUI was premiered by the Opéra-Comique of Paris on 18 May, 1887. Despite the complexities of the plot, Chabrier's music won the day and the performance was very well received, with several numbers encored (although the librettists were booed). But the theatre burnt down after just three performances. Six months later the opera was taken up again at the Théâtre Lyrique, Place du Châtelet, and thanks to the support of the noted Wagnerian conductor Felix Mottl, the opera was also performed several times in Germany. But the work seemed to lose favor with the public, to a large extent due to the poor libretto (which was revised substantially for revivals in 1888 and 1929), and it has seldom been performed since that 1929 revival. Some excerpts from the opera, notably the ‘Fête polonaise’ from the beginning of Act II, have taken on their own life in the concert hall, ensuring that the work Chabrier once referred to as a ‘comic opera with elaborate undies’ has not disappeared completely from view.
UNE ÉDUCATION MANQUÉE (An Incomplete Education) is an opérette in one act and nine scenes by Emmanuel Chabrier. The French libretto was by Eugène Leterrier and Albert Vanloo. Composed in 1878-79, the work, which is set in the 18th century, is in a lively, light operetta style in which Chabrier excelled and had perfected in L’ÉTOILE a year or so earlier. It was much admired by Ravel, Hahn and Messager, among others.
The ‘opérette’ was first performed on 1 May 1879 as part of an evening’s entertainment organized by the ‘Cercle international’ in the Boulevard des Capucines, with piano accompaniment by Chabrier himself. It was revived in March 1910 in Monte Carlo and on 9 January 1911 at the Théâtre des Arts conducted by Gabriel Grovlez. In December 1918 Jane Bathori mounted the piece at the Théâtre du Vieux-Colombier. The 1924 Paris production by Diaghilev, designed by Juan Gris and conducted by André Messager, had recitatives by Darius Milhaud to replace the spoken dialogue. Milhaud also composed an aria for Hélène based on a melody he found among Chabrier’s unpublished manuscripts, ‘Couplets de Mariette’.
The first performance at the Paris Opéra-Comique, conducted by Roger Désormière, was on 24 March 1938, and it reached its 50th performance there in April 1946. It has occasionally been revived, though sometimes with Gontran transposed for a tenor.”
- Chris Morrison, allmusic.com
“Janine Micheau was a French singer, one of the leading lyric sopranos of her era in France, she was born in Toulouse, and studied voice at the Paris Conservatoire. She made her professional début at the Opéra-Comique on 16 November 1933, as la Plieuse in LOUISE, following this with Loys in JUIF POLONAIS by Camille Erlanger, etc. By 1935 her performances gained her invitations to Marseille (Lakmé), and then (at the instigation of Pierre Monteux) to Amsterdam (Mélisande) and San Francisco. In Buenos Aires, Erich Kleiber conducted her in Sophie in DER ROSENKAVALIER.
She created the role of Creuse in Darius Milhaud's Médée, for her début at the Paris Opéra in 1940, where she also sang Gilda in RIGOLETTO, Violetta in LA TRAVIATA and Sophie in DER ROSENKAVALIER, among other roles.
Once the war was over, her career became more international than it had been; she performed at La Scala in Milan, La Monnaie in Brussels, Royal Opera House in London, the San Francisco Opera, and the Lyric Opera of Chicago. At these venues she sang nearly all the great French soprano roles. From 1961 she became a voice teacher at the Paris Conservatoire, and the Mozarteum in Salzburg. Her final performance was as Pamina in Rouen in May 1968. She died in Paris at the age of 62.”
- Zillah Dorset Akron
“Christiane Castelli became famous especially in the roles of Tosca (which she sang over 300 times), Nedda, Elisabetta (Don Carlo), Desdemona and Musetta. On the advice of Lotte Schöne she joined the National Conservatory of Paris, in 1942, in the classes of Claire Croiza and Roger Bourdin. She joined the Paris Opéra in 1946. She débuted at the Palais Garnier 18 June, 1952 in the role of Hebe in Rameau’s LES INDES GALANTES. She bade farewell to the stage during a recital at the Opéra de Paris in 1977, after which she taught at the conservatories of Marseille and Bordeaux, also participating in vocal seminars.”
- Ned Ludd
“...the French bass Xavier Depraz had a warm basso cantante voice which darkened a little in its bottom register, opening out into a lower extension quite unusual for its type, enabling him to sing Mozart's bass roles convincingly....He is a touching Don Quichotte, a role he could have been born to sing....Nilakantha's stanzas from LAKMÉ are beautiful....one of his best roles [is] Basile in the Opéra-Comique version of BARBIERE...."
- Tully Potter, THE RECORD COLLECTOR, 2016
"Xavier Depraz entered the Paris Conservatory in 1947 studying under Fernand Francell for singing, Louis Musy for stage and René Simon for the theater. In 1951 he participated in operatic creations at the Opéra in Mulhouse and Nancy, two works composed by Marcel Landowski, and in concert version of Prokofiev’s THE FIREY ANGEL. He appeared in Béla Bartók’s BLUEBEARD'S CASTLE, plus RIGOLETTO, DON GIOVANNI, DON QUIXOTE and THAÏS. Late in his life he began a prolific dramatic artist career, first on television, for which he notably played the role of Ursus in THE MAN WHO LAUGHS for Jean Kerchbron then to the big screen. Very large, dry, emaciated face, deep timbre, he alternated effectively in military roles, as clergeymen as well as crooks. He was professor of opera at the Paris Conservatoire in 1973.”
- Zillah Akron Dorset