OP0248. LAKMÉ, recorded 1971, w.Lombard Cond. l’Opéra-Comique Ensemble; Mady Mesplé, Charles Burles, Roger Soyer, etc. (E.U.) 2-EMI 67742, Slipcase Edition, incl. 180pp. Elaborate Libretto-Brochure. Final copy! - 724356774223
“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
“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