V2284. RITA GORR, w.Cluytens & Prêtre Cond.: Arias from Alceste, Iphigénie en Tauride, Orfeo, Médée, La Damnation de Faust, Werther & Samson et Dalila; w.Guy Chauvet: Duets from Médée. (E.U.) Guild 2411, recorded 1959-62. - 795754241129
“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
“One of the greatest singers to emerge on the international opera scene in the 1950's, Gorr was an artist of intensity and versatility whose penetrating, powerful mezzo-soprano and scalding dramatic temperament made her an incomparable Dalila, a magisterial Amneris and a singularly convincing Mère Marie in DIALOGUES DES CARMÉLITES, which she sang in the Paris premiere of Poulenc's opera in 1957. Her voice was not to every taste — some found her timbre metallic and her upper range narrow — but few would deny that Rita Gorr had a grandeur and command of the stage unequaled in her generation. Gorr sang with the daring and shrewd sense of her own worth that recalled the divas of a previous golden age: critics reaching for superlatives most often compared Gorr to Marie Delna and Jeanne Gerville–Réache, two nonpareil French contraltos of the Belle Époque.
Gorr's international reputation began with her appearances at the 1958 Bayreuth Festival as Fricka in DAS RHEINGOLD (her festival début) and DIE WALKÜRE and the Third Norn in GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG. The following year, Gorr returned to Bayreuth as Ortrud and bowed at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, as Amneris. La Scala welcomed her in 1960 as Kundry. Other European engagements for Gorr included appearances in Vienna, Rome, Bordeaux, Lyon, Orange, Geneva, Brussels, Ghent, Stuttgart, Barcelona and Lisbon.
She made impressive back-to-back débuts in autumn 1962 at the Metropolitan Opera, as Amneris to Leontyne Price's Aïda on 17 October, followed by Dalila in the Lyric Opera of Chicago company premiere of SAMSON ET DALILA on 10 November — an assignment Gorr took over on short notice when Giulietta Simionato proved unwilling to re-learn in French a role she knew only in Italian. Gorr's New York appearances were relatively infrequent, despite the extravagant admiration of the local critics. She sang just forty-one performances of six roles during her five seasons on the Met roster — Amneris, Waltraute, Eboli, Azucena, Santuzza and Dalila, the latter in a new Met production of Saint-Saëns' opera in 1964, opposite Jess Thomas and Gabriel Bacquier. Gorr also appeared in several memorable concert performances of Massenet works at Carnegie Hall, including Anita in LA NAVARRAISE (1963) and Charlotte to Nicolai Gedda's Werther (1965), both presented by the Friends of French Opera, and the title role in HÉRODIADE for the American Opera Society (1964), with Régine Crespin as Salome. In 1992, she sang Neris in a concert of Cherubini's MEDÉE with Boston Festival Opera. Gorr's last notable U.S. opera house appearance was in 1990, as Madame de Croissy in Seattle Opera's DIALOGUES DES CARMELITES, a characterization she repeated in several subsequent stagings, including Robert Carsen's memorable 1997 production for the Netherlands Opera, and on Kent Nagano's 1990 recording with the Opéra de Lyon (Virgin). Gorr sang opera for more than fifty years….Her last opera performances were in summer 2007, when she was eighty-one, in THE QUEEN OF SPADES for Vlaamse Opera. She died after a long illness.”
- F. Paul Driscoll, OPERA NEWS, 23 Jan., 2012
“French tenor Guy Chauvet was born in Montluçon 2 October 1933. In 1954 he was co-winner of a tenor competition in Cannes, along with Alain Vanzo, Gustave Botiaux, Tony Poncet, and Roger Gardes - a pretty impressive assemblage of talent! Chauvet made his Paris Opéra début in 1959, starting with comprimario parts, finally advancing to lead roles. He soon established himself as an important presence, both in France and, ultimately, in many of the world’s other major opera houses. He sang numerous roles in the French and Italian repertoire, and became particularly well-known for such heroic parts as Aeneas and Samson.
Guy Chauvet was without question a talented singer, and one who filled a pressing need during a time when the grand tradition of the French heroic tenor was in decline….Typical of this singer’s work in general, the diction is idiomatic and crystal-clear....Chauvet displays all of the other qualities that are the heart and soul of great French tenor singing - a seamless legato, a masterful application of the mixed voice, and an ideal balance between elegance and passion....And if all of these attributes inspire comparison to Chauvet’s great predecessor, Georges Thill, the singing on this disc justifies such comparisons. We hear some absolutely first-rate French tenor singing. Highly recommended.”
K. M., classicalcdreview, Sept., 2004