OP3212. LA LÉPREUSE, recorded 29 November, 1957, w. Cloëz Cond. RTF Radio Lyrique Ensemble; Jeanne Ségala, Solange Michel, Louis Noguera, Lucien Lovano, etc.; LA TOUR DE FEU - Excerpts, recorded 1963, w. Giovaninetti Cond. Micheline Grancher, Jean Molien, Jean Giraudeau, etc. (both Lazzari). (France) 2-Malibran 802. - 7600003778024
“Sylvio Lazzari's masterwork, the verismo opera LA LÉPREUSE (1901), is set in Medieval Brittany and is based on a poem by Henri Bataille. The music is volatile, emotional, ripely operatic and opulently singable. The voices are strong and Lazzari builds some Puccinian confrontational climaxes. Lazzari leans towards Franck but with much more light and air in the warp and woof of the music.
The plot of the lyric verismo opera LA TOUR DE FEU (The Lighthouse) turns on the jealousy of the pilot-mariner, Yann. The object of his desire is the beautiful Naic - who has always seemed foreign to the Breton island on which the opera is set. Naic prefers Yves, the son of the lighthouse keeper. The two marry and at the wedding feast Naic is troubled with unreasoning fears about going to live at the wooden lighthouse. A ship arrives and Yann leaves to guide it into harbour. Yan returns with the captain of the ship, Don Jacinto who is inveigled by Yann into staying to try his seducing skills on Naic who will be alone on the first day after the wedding night. Before Naic and Yves leave for their new home Naic agrees to a meeting with Jacinto. In Act 2 we learn that poor trusting Yves is refused by Naic on their wedding night. He leaves and Yann appears with the beguiling Jacinto. A plot is hatched under which the next night Yann will put out a false distress call, Yves will answer it and while he is away Naic will join Jacinto aboard his ship. In the third act Yves, true to plan, leaves when the false call comes in. Yves returns and after an argument puts out the lighthouse fire intending that Jacinto's ship will founder on the reef. Naic tries to persuade Yves to relight the fire but he is obdurate. Naic sings in an effort to warn Jacinto's ship. In a flash of lightning amid the gathering storm Jacinto's ship is glimpsed hitting the reef and foundering. Naic in operatic despair throws herself to her death from the top gallery of the lighthouse. Yves demented by loss and guilt rekindles the warning fire and sets the tower ablaze. He dies in the conflagration - echoes of Hanson’s MERRY MOUNT here."
- Rob Barnett, musicweb-international
“One of most popular Carmens active in post-World War II France, 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