OP0229. ORPHÉE AUX ENFERS (Offenbach), recorded 1979, w.Plasson Cond. Toulouse Ensemble; Mady Mesplé, Jane Rhodes, Michel Sénéchal, Jane Berbié, Michèle Commande, Charles Burles, Michel Trempont, etc. (UK) 2-EMI 7496472, Slipcase Edition w.Elaborate Libretto-Brochure. Final Sealed Copy! - 077774964722
“Mady Mesplé, a French coloratura soprano whose technical precision and crystalline sound made her a favorite among European audiences and record collectors worldwide, was primarily associated with the music of her native country, including opera, operetta and song. The title role in Delibes’ opera LAKMÉ, with which she made her professional stage debut, in Liège, Belgium, in 1953, would become a signature part, sung by her more than 140 times.
She made her Opéra Garnier debut in Paris in 1958 as Sister Constance in Poulenc’s DIALOGUES OF THE CARMELITES, starting a close connection with that composer’s music that endured for three decades. Other French roles that she assumed with distinction included Olympia in Offenbach’s LES CONTES D’HOFFMANN, Juliette in Gounod’s ROMÉO ET JULIETTE, Leïla in Bizet’s LES PÊCHEURS DE PERLES, Manon in Massenet’s opera of that name, and Sophie in Massenet’s WERTHER. Ms. Mesplé also took on canonical Italian roles like Lucia in Donizetti’s LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR and Norina in his DON PASQUALE, Rosina in Rossini’s IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA and Gilda in Verdi’s RIGOLETTO - the character she portrayed in her sole Metropolitan Opera engagement, in 1973.
Among the handful of German roles Ms. Mesplé performed were the Queen of the Night in Mozart’s THE MAGIC FLUTE, Zerbinetta in Richard Strauss’ ARIADNE AUF NAXOS and Sophie in Strauss’ DER ROSENKAVALIER. She also sang contemporary works, creating the title role in Tomasi’s PRINCESSE PAULINE (1962) and Kitty in Menotti’s LE DERNIER SAUVAGE (1963), and appearing in the French premiere of Henze’s ELEGY FOR YOUNG LOVERS (1965).
On recordings, the medium through which most listeners outside of Europe knew Ms. Mesplé’s work, her repertoire was broader still. Her discography ranges from Baroque works by Vivaldi, Lully and Clérambault to Maurice Ohana’s avant-garde opera SYLLABAIRE POUR PHÈDRE. She recorded Schönberg’s DIE JAKOBSLEITER with Pierre Boulez, part of that conductor’s influential series of Schönberg recordings in the 1980s. Her operetta recordings are cherished by cognoscenti; so, too, are her renditions of Debussy, Ravel, Poulenc and Satie among song enthusiasts.
Ms. Mesplé retired from the opera stage in 1985 but continued to perform recitals until the early 1990s. Her New York recital debut came in 1989, when she sang at Florence Gould Hall as part of a daylong festival, Fête de la Musique. Reviewing that event for THE TIMES, John Rockwell noted that while Ms. Mesplé avoided the agile flights that had ensured her early renown, ‘her command of French language and style, and her way with songs by Satie and Poulenc especially, ensured her success’.
Ms. Mesplé pursued her career chiefly in European opera houses, but gave significant performances in Chicago, Montréal, Dallas, Seattle, Buenos Aires and Tokyo. In France, she held teaching positions in Paris, Lyon, Bordeaux and elsewhere, and presented master classes around the world.”
- Steve Smith, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 18 June, 2020
"Following studies at the Paris Conservatory, Michel Sénéchal made his debut in 1950 at La Monnaie in Brussels. Under contract there for three seasons, he sang the lyric tenor repertory, as he continued to do later at both the Paris Opéra and the Opéra-Comique and in other theaters through France. His sophisticated sense of makeup, stage movement, comic timing, and seizing each element of irony and rendering it unforgettable all are built upon the underpinnings of a handsome light tenor voice, well-trained and always pleasant to hear. So dominant has this supporting artist become, the catalog reveals multiple recordings of his core repertory. His roles grew to include Rossini's Almaviva and Comte Ory, Hylas in Berlioz's LES TROYENS, Paolino in Cimarosa's IL MATRIMONIO SEGRETO, Georges Brown in Boieldieu's LA DAME BLANCHE, and three of Mozart's leading tenor parts: Tamino, Ferrando, and Don Ottavio. At Aix-en-Provence in 1956, Sénéchal sang the travesty role of Rameau's PLATÉE, a curious creature of heart-stopping homeliness who believes herself to be beautiful. The role is both a leading one and a character study. His success in the role was so great, he was called upon to perform the part in Amsterdam, at the Monnaie, and later, the Opéra-Comique.
For Michel Sénéchal's Metropolitan Opera debut on 8 March, 1982, he was engaged for LES CONTES D'HOFFMANN, performing the four comic tenor roles, a turn that by then had all but become a signature assignment. Other roles following at the Metropolitan were Guillot in Massenet's MANON and Mozart's Don Basilio. Sénéchal has, in addition to established repertory stage works, undertaken contemporary operas.
Sénéchal's mastery of the tenor character repertory has repeatedly brought him into the recording studio. His four comic characters in Hoffmann have been preserved on disc three times, while in James Levine's recording of ANDREA CHENIER, Michel Sénéchal appears together with his greatly respected Italian counterpart, Piero di Palma, and supporting principals Scotto, Domingo, and Milnes. In addition to Offenbach's HOFFMANN and a near-definitive ORPHEE AUX ENFERS recorded under Plasson in 1978, Sénéchal appears with Dame Felicity Lott in a recording of LA BELLE HELENE released in 2000."
- Erik Eriksson, allmusic.com
“Charles Burles studied with Léon Cazauran and made his début at Toulon in 1958 in BARBIERE. He recorded LA BOHEME with Hélène Piroir and Valère Blouse. In 1963 he was engaged by Louis Ducreux for the Marseille Opéra where he sang all the light tenor roles. But it was in 1968 in the revival of LA JUIVE in Toulon in the role of Léopold, with Tony Poncet that his career really took off. In 1969 he sang his first JONGLEUR DE NOTRE-DAME. The critical response was unanimous. P. Bessand Massenet, the grandson of the composer declared ‘I believe that Massenet would have approved of the interpreter…no other artist has interpreted the role in a more moving and impressive way than Charles Burles’. Jean Giraudeau called him to the Opéra-Comique in 1969. He made his début there in Rameau’s ZOROASTRE. In 1970 he created Claudel’s L’ANNONCE FAITES À MARIE with music by Renzo Rossellini, which he sang also in Turin and Venice….Bernard Gavotty declared; ‘C. Burles, the very high tenor vocalised his top notes with the virtuosity of an embroiderer’. He also took on LA DAME BLANCHE and SI J’ÉTAIS ROI, as well as BARBIERE. In 1973 the Ghent Opera invited him for the role of Arturo in I PURITANI with Maria Fleta, the granddaughter of Miguel Fleta. Respecting the pitch of the score he sang the high F in the third act. In 1977 Rolf Libermann cast him in Rameau’s PLATÉE. In addition he added ENTFÜHRUNG and Cimarosa’s MATRIMONIO SEGRETO to his repertoire. With equal success he sang in LES PÊCHEURS DE PERLES, often with his friend the baritone Pierre Le Hémonet, MIGNON, DON PASQUALE, L’ITALIANA, L'ASSEDIO DI CORINTO, IL COMTE ORY, MIREILLE, LES PALADINS, as well as LA BOHEME AND RIGOLETTO. He did not neglect to sing operettas either. From 1996 he sang and played comprimario roles. He made his farewell in 2006 in the role of Altoum in TURANDOT in Marseille. A fine craftsman with impreccable diction, elegance of vocal line, nuances and phrasing, master of high notes and a fine diminuendo, he left the memory of a generous tenor. A worthy successor to Miguel Villabella, he recorded LA BELLE HÉLÈNE, LAKMÉ, BARBIERE, WILLIAM TELL and numerous operettas.”
- Jacqueline Pongy