OP0316. MONSIEUR BEAUCAIRE - Excerpts (Complete, as recorded) (Messager), recorded 1919, w.Kennedy Russell Cond. Prince’s Theatre Orch.; Maggie Teyte, Marion Green, John Clarke, Robert Parker & Alice Moffat. (England) Palaeophonics 72. Excellently transferred from the 1919 recordings, w.Elaborate ‘The Play’ 16pp Brochure replete w.photos from the London production.
“MONSIEUR BEAUCAIRE is a romantic opera in three acts, composed by André Messager. The piece premiered at the Prince of Wales Theatre in Birmingham, England, on 7 April 1919, before opening at the Prince's Theatre in London under the management of Frank Curzon on 19 April 1919, then transferring to the Palace Theatre on 29 July 1919, for a successful run.
Reviewing the premiere, The Times [21 April 1919] concluded, ‘If MONSIEUR BEAUCAIRE avoids being an opera it enlists some of the best talents of the Opera. Miss Maggie Teyte, surrounded by half a dozen lovers on the stage, may be sure of as many hundreds in the auditorium, and Mr. Marion Green, every inch the Noble Personage, has a voice to match. Miss Alice Moffat and Mr. John Clarke together make the subsidiary lovers attractive, and Mr. Robert Parker is the very image of courtly vice. It Is rare to get so much good singing where good acting must have been the first requirement in making up the cast. There is a chorus which adds to its beautiful dresses the power of producing quite a beautiful sound, and an orchestra which, under Mr. Kennedy Russell, lets us enjoy the best that Mr. Messager can give’.
A series of 78rpm records were made by British Columbia in London in 1919 [above] at the time of the creation, with Marion Green, Maggie Teyte, Alice Moffat and John Clarke, with the Prince's Theatre Orchestra conducted by Kennedy Russell.
Dame Maggie Teyte was born on 17 April, 1888, in Wolfverhampton, England. After studies at home, she went to Paris where she became a pupil of the celebrated tenor Jean de Reszke who had given up his career in 1900 to teach. In March 1906, she made her début in a series of Mozart concerts conducted by Reynaldo Hahn, and in 1907 became a member of the Paris Opéra-Comique. After a few small parts, she was cast as Mélisande, replacing the celebrated originator of the rôle, Mary Garden. To prepare for PELLÉAS ET MÉLISANDE, Teyte was sent to study with Debussy himself, every day for six months! By reputation he was a terror and a martinet, but according to Teyte, he rarely corrected her; in fact he hardly spoke to her at all (!). Clearly he appreciated her talents, both the natural beauty of her voice and her instinctive interpretation of his music. In 1910, she conquered London audiences with her portrayals of Cherubino in MARRIAGE OF FIGARO, Blonde in ABDUCTION FROM THE SERAGLIO, and Mélisande, all under the baton of Sir Thomas Beecham. When Sir Paolo Tosti was asked his impression of the young soprano, he replied: ‘she is the only singer today who can sing’. Rare praise in an era when Melba and Caruso were still in their prime!
Despite her early successes, Teyte had a difficult time finding a place for herself in the main opera houses of the world. She developed a following in Chicago, Boston, and Philadelphia, and sang in America through the end of World War I, but did not appear in New York. She married in 1921 and went into a period of semi-retirement. Upon the disruption of her marriage in the early 1930s, Teyte faced difficulties of resuming her career after an absence of nearly a decade.
Maggie Teyte’s career was revived in 1936 by a set of recordings she made for EMI of Debussy songs accompanied by Alfred Cortot. Though the outbreak of the Second World War interrupted the progress of her ‘second career’, her recordings established her reputation in England and the United States as the leading French art singer of her time. In 1948, she made her first New York appearances: a Town Hall recital followed by a series of performances of PELLÉAS at the City Center Opera. Teyte continued performing in opera until 1951 and on the concert stage until her retirement in 1955 (at age 67). In 1958 she was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire. She died in London on 26 May, 1976.
Her voice is of exquisite purity, perfect placement; there is spontaneity and distinction. Hers is a voice of a ‘femme fragile’, perfectly adapted for French mélodies. She had a conscientious and painstaking approach to the art of interpretation. Maggie Teyte’s recordings are indispensable for lovers of French music.”
- Edward Blickstein, VAI
“If you are interested in what original audiences of early 20th century English operetta and musical comedy heard, there is a great source for such recordings – the record label Paleophonics. Dominic Combe prepares CDs for them from his huge collection of shellacs and a few cylinders.
I came across these somewhat hard-to-find CDs on the website of the mail-order company NORBECK, PETERS AND FORD, (norpete.com) which is specialized in historical performances from the beginning of recorded sound all the way through to the 1960s.
There are now over fifty Paleophonics CDs, and more are being prepared or scheduled for future release. Each CD comes with a lavishly illustrated program booklet with reviews, information about the shows and fantastic publicity photographs, and artwork from the original London productions, in the form of reproductions of the magazine PLAY PICTORIAL.”
- Thomas Krebs, OPERETTA RESEARCH CENTER - PALEOPHONICS - A JOURNEY TO THE DAWN OF RECORDED SOUND IN MUSICAL COMEDY, 1 July, 2020