V2407. SUZANNE BALGUERIE: Arias from Iphigénie en Tauride, Alceste, Faust, Sigurd, Ariane et Barbe-Bleue, Aïda, Lohngrin & Tristan; MARCELLE BUNLET: Arias from Ariane et Barbe-Bleue, Parsifal & Der Fliegende Höllander; EUGÉNIE BUNLET: Tous les baisers (Maurice Pesse); Les Contes d'Hoffmann - Elle a fui la tourterelle; JACQUELINE COURTIN: La Tour de Feu - Ballade de Naïk (Lazzari). (France) Malibran 758. - 7600003777584
"It was not until 1921 when Suzanne Balguerie made her début at the Opéra-Comique as Ariane in Dukas’ ARIANE ET BARBE-BLEU. She remained a member of this opera house for more than twenty years, but she also appeared at the Paris Grand Opéra. She sang leading roles in several contemporary French operas by composers such as Alfred Bachelet, Milhaud, Léo Sachs and Henri Rabaud. She was successful as Isolde at the Opéra-Comique. Her repertory also included Donna Anna, Contessa in LE NOZZE DI FIGARO, Brünnhilde in DIE WALKÜRE, Antonia, Marguerite, Tosca and Pénélope (Fauré). She was admired by the French public in Paris, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Monte Carlo and rarely appeared outside France. She finished her career in 1950 (!) and became a renowned coach at the conservatory of Grenoble. She is a remarkable dramatic soprano, comparable to Germaine Lubin.
We inevitably think of Régine Crespin or Germaine Lubin as regards Wagnerian sopranos. Today we no longer hear Elsa and Senta sung in our French, offering a fairly light approach, a clear voice, intended to be heard in human-sized rooms and not in vast hangars of dubious acoustics. It is in the French repertoire where we find the immense superiority of Balguerie of whose work so little is saved, thus this disc’s inclusion of two other singers is probably why Malibran had to resort to other singers in order to provide sufficient material for this CD.
The immense talent of Suzanne Balguerie’s art is incomparable - from Gluck to Dukas through Reyer or even Gounod. Quite unexpected from a great actress, Marguérite’s 'Air des Bijoux' from FAUST, is superb with all the qualities expected in this piece of virtuosity, includes an impeccable trill and a long-held ultimate note. The arias of Gluck’s ALCESTE reveal a supreme actress with infinite delicacy of phrasing. The awakening of SIGURD’s Brünnhilde knew no more exciting interpreter. As for ARIANE ET BARBE-BLEU, the first work she performed on stage, (Salle Favart in 1921), this is where Balguerie triumphs, despite a particularly lush orchestration.”
- Laurent Bury, forumopera.com, 2 July, 2013
“Marcelle Bunlet, one of the great voices of Wagnerian repertoire, was born 9 Oct., 1900 in Fontenay-le-Comte (Vendée). Bunlet débuted at l’Opéra-Comique on 5 Jan., 1928, as Ariane in Dukas’ ARIANE ET BARBE-BLEU, then on 18 Feb., 1928 she sang Brünnhilde (with Paul Franz and Marcel Journet) in GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG at her l’Opéra début. In 1931, Toscanini requested her Kundry for her Bayreuth début. She was regarded among French sopranos as second only to Germaine Lubin.
The first performances of both versions of Messaiaen’s 'Poèmes pour Mi’ cycle were given by Bunlet, one of Messiaen's favourite interpreters, with the Composer accompanying, 28 April, 1937, at one of the ‘Concerts de la Spirale’, a progressive contemporary music society that Messiaen co-founded with André Jolivet and others.
Messiaen married Claire Delbos in June 1932, and during the summer, the young couple moved into a new apartment in the South of Paris. Claire was a composer and violinist, a graduate of the Schola Cantorum, where her teachers had included Vincent d'Indy. As a wedding present, Messiaen composed his ‘Theme and Variations’ for violin and piano, which has an unusual dedication: the musical note ‘E’ (in the top space of the treble clef stave). This note is spelt ‘Mi’ in French, and this was Messiaen's pet-name for his wife - the pitch of the top open string of the violin, her instrument.
Claire was a devoted and affectionate partner to Messiaen - as he was to her - and they gave regular concerts together. In the early years of their marriage, the couple often went down to stay at Neussargues in the Cantal, where Claire's parents owned a small chateau (it is still standing today), but in 1936 they were able to spend the summer alone, at a newly-constructed house by the shores of the Lac de Laffrey in Petichet, just off the Route Napoléon, south of Grenoble. On an idyllic plot, they had a tiny house built as a rural retreat, away from Paris and set in the beautiful mountain scenery of the Dauphiné. This was to be where Messiaen did most of his composing over the next five decades, but the first piece he wrote there was a glorious love-letter to Claire: the ‘Poèmes pour Mi’.”
- Nigel Simeone, Philharmonia Orchestra Program