OP3210. SNEGUROCHKA (in Russian), Broadcast Performance, 10 June, 1955, w. Charles Bruck Cond. Solange Michel, Janine Micheau, Rita Gorr, Geneviève Moizan, Lucien Lovano, Joseph Peyron, Michel Roux, Freda Betti, Jean Giraudeau, Bernard Cottret & Michel Hamel; NINON VALLIN & HÉLÈNE SADOVEN - Snegurochka - excerpts; LUCIEN LOVANO, w.Gressier Cond.: Arias from Manon, Thais, Les Saltimbanques, Don Quichotte & Pagliacci - recorded 1947. [An irresistible performance, particularly with the sumptuous singing of Solange Michel, in charming Franco-Russian style, enhanced by excerpts by Vallin, Sadoven and Lovano.] (France) 2-Malibran 526. - 37600003775264
“Snegurochka, also known as the Snow Maiden or Snowy, is a unique character of Russian folklore and an essential part of Russian New Year’s celebrations. The origins of Snegurochka are contradictory. The roots of this feminine character can be found in Slavic pagan beliefs. According to legend, she is the daughter of Father Frost and the Snow Queen. Another Russian fairy-tale, however, tells a story of an old man and woman who had always regretted that they did not have any children. In winter they made a girl out of snow. The snow maiden came alive and became the daughter they never had. They called her ‘Snegurochka’. But when the summer sun began to warm the land, the girl became very sad. One day she went into the woods with a group of village girls to pick flowers. It began to get dark and the girls made a fire and began playfully jumping over the flames. Snegurochka also jumped, but suddenly she melted and turned into a white cloud.
In some parts of Russia people still follow the ancient tradition of drowning a straw figure in the river or burning it on the bonfire to dispel the winter. This custom symbolizes the transition from winter to spring.”
“One of most popular Carmens active in post-World War II France, Solange Michel studied at the Paris Conservatoire before beginning her career as a concert and recital singer in the 1930s. She made her début at the Opéra-Comique in 1945, in the title role of Ambroise Thomas' MIGNON. She was soon established as an important mezzo-soprano at that company, as well as at the Paris Opéra; her plummy, contralto-ish timbre and crisp, witty delivery of text enlivened all of her specialties, which ranged from Carmen - undoubtedly her signature role, with more than 600 performances to her credit - to Charlotte in WERTHER, Dalila, Geneviève in PELLÉAS ET MÉLISANDE, Gluck's Orfeo and Marguerite in LA DAMNATION DE FAUST. The best-known of Michel's recordings is the 1950 EMI-Pathé CARMEN, in which spoken dialogue (rather than recitative) is delivered with incomparable panache by a superbly chosen cast, many of them Opéra-Comique veterans. Stylishly paced by André Cluytens and recorded at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris, Michel's Carmen is sly, sexy and authoritative, testifying to her long association with Bizet's Gypsy.
Other Michel recordings included Ernest Bour's 1947 recording of L'ENFANT ET LES SORTILÈGES, in which she sang the roles of La Bergère and L'Ecureuil (The Squirrel); Louise's Mother in Jean Fournet's 1956 performance of LOUISE; and Geneviève in Désiré-Emile Ingelbrecht's 1962 PELLÉAS. In 1963, Michel created the role of the Maharani in the world premiere of Menotti's THE LAST SAVAGE at the Opéra-Comique. Although she was active principally in France, she appeared as a guest at Covent Garden, La Scala, Teatro San Carlo in Naples, Teatro Liceo in Barcelona, Royal Flemish Opera and Teatro Colón, among other theaters. She retired from singing in 1978.”
- OPERA NEWS, 7 Jan., 2011
“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
“Rita Gorr, an outstanding mezzo-soprano/contralto….made her operatic début at Ghent and Antwerp in 1949 as Hérodiade….In 1952 she was the winner of the prestigious international vocal competition at Lucerne by a unanimous decision of the jury….In the same year she made her début at the Opéra-Comique portraying Charlotte in WERTHER….she was in demand in most of the major opera centers of the world, and in 1958 sang at the Bayreuth Festival….In 1962 she made an auspicious début at the Metropolitan Opera [as Amneris]….Possessor of a colorful warm voice of great range and searing intensity, she is able to sing all the tessitura of mezzo and contralto roles. It was in the portrayals of the dramatic mezzo roles that she excelled, especially in Cherubini’s MEDEA.”
– Richard T. Soper, BELGIAN OPERA HOUSES AND SINGERS, pp.262-64
“Geneviève Moizan entered the Conservatoire de Paris in 1942, and upon graduation in 1946 she won first prize in the Saint Sulpice competition. She débuted at the Paris Opéra in 1949 as Marguérite in FAUST (with Noré and André Pernet), moving on to a vast repertoire. She often appeared in Monte Carlo, Geneva, Strasbourg, Brussels, Algiers, etc. It was, however, her collaboration with the ORTF which gained her the essential part of her national popularity for almost twenty-five years.
With its clear timbre, her lyric soprano was equally acclaimed in both dramatic and mezzo-soprano rôles: Werther, Sapho, Le Roi d'Ys, Mignon, Il Trovatore, etc.”
- Zilla D. Akron
“Charles Bruck, a Hungarian-French conductor, was born in Timisoara, Hungary (now Romania), in 1911. He became a French citizen and was active in the Résistance, and was made an officer in the French Legion of Honor.
After courses at the Vienna Conservatory and studies in piano and composition (as well as law) in Paris. He left Romania in 1928 for a year of studies in Vienna, then travelled on to Paris. There he studied with Alfred Cortot, Nadia Boulanger and Vlado Perlemuter at the École Normale de Musique. In 1934 he began studies with French conductor Pierre Monteux, following him to San Francisco where Bruck served as Monteux's assistant. He went on to direct the Netherlands Opera, the Strasbourg Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Paris Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, making many guest appearances and recordings and championing many 20th-century composers.
After the Second World War, Bruck assumed chief conductor positions with the Orchestra of the Netherlands Opera in Amsterdam (1950–1954), the Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg (1955–1965), and the Orchestre Philharmonique de l'ORTF in Paris (1965–1970). In 1969, he succeeded Monteux as director of his conducting school in Maine, a post he held for twenty-six years until his death there in 1995.
Bruck was a champion of contemporary music and presented hundreds of world premieres in his career. He also taught at The Hartt School of Music where he served as Director of Orchestral Activities. He was a visiting professor at Princeton University in 1992.
Bruck died in Hancock, Maine, USA. A play about his career as Master of the Pierre Monteux School, called MUSE OF FIRE, written by David Katz, one of his students, was premiered in Maine in 2005 and has since toured extensively.”
- THE NEW YORK TIMES, 22 July, 1995