OP3262. OEDIPE (Enescu), Live Performance, 18 May, 1955, w. Charles Bruck Cond. RTF Ensemble; Xavier Depraz, Genevieve Moizan, Rita Gorr, Berthe Monmart, Freda Betti, Lucien Lovano, Joseph Peyron, Andre Vessieres, Jean Giraudeau, Louis Noguera, etc.; OEDIPE - Final Scene, w.Brediceanu Cond. Bucharest Opera Ensemble, w.David Ohanessian. (France) 2-Malibran 805. - 7600003778055
"Pablo Casals once called George Enescu 'the greatest musical phenomenon since Mozart' - and with considerable justification. Enescu, like Mozart, displayed extraordinary abilities at an early age and continued to demonstrate his genius throughout a remarkable career.
In his mid-teens, Enescu studied composition in Paris with Jules Massenet and Gabriel Fauré, alongside classmates including Maurice Ravel. Before he reached twenty, he was conducting his own works back in Bucharest where he was already hailed as a major force in Romanian music. At that point, and through much of his career, Enescu's own music wasn't his main calling card. It was his violin. By the time World War I began, Enescu had traveled much of Europe as a renowned violin virtuoso, and beginning in the 1920s his itinerary expanded to include the United States. In 1925, one of his appearances inspired the young violinist Yehudi Menuhin, who sought Enescu out and studied with him for many years.
Throughout his career, and even at the height of his fame as a performer, Enescu led two very different musical lives. During the concert season, he was based in Paris and crisscrossed the world giving concerts and recitals. In the off-season, he retreated to the Romanian countryside to compose, eventually completing an impressive catalog of works ranging from large scale symphonies and orchestral suites, to chamber works and music for his own use as a violinist. Yet despite the variety of his output, there was one work that was Enescu's musical companion for more than two decades: his single opera, OEDIPE.
Enescu began the opera in 1910 after seeing a production of OEDIPUS THE KING, the classic drama by Sophocles. The opera's libretto, written in French by Edmond Fleg, incorporates elements of all three dramas known as Sophocles' â€˜Theban Playsâ€™, and also uses other legends surrounding its title character, giving Enescu's OEDIPE one of the few narratives that covers the entire life of Oedipus.
The opera wasn't completed, even in draft, for more than ten years, and even then Enescu wasn't satisfied with it. He worked on the score for another decade or so, finally completing it in the early 1930s. Its premiere took place in Paris, in 1936.
Enescu continued to be acclaimed as a virtuoso performer, but his reputation as a composer grew as his career progressed. He died in 1955 and by now, he's widely regarded as his country's greatest musician, with OEDIPE often hailed as the finest single work ever composed by a Romanian."
- Bruce Scott, NPR MUSIC, 16 April, 2010
"Romanian composer George Enescu's 1931 opera OEDIPE is an epic work on several levels, including its dramatic scope - from the protagonist's birth to his death - and in the huge performing forces it requires. It stands for the most part outside the modernist or post-Romantic operatic conventions of its time and inhabits a sound world that uses a familiar harmonic language, but in idiosyncratic ways. The composer's Romanian roots and the influences of impressionism are in strong evidence, but the work isn't easily pigeonholed; it has moments of rough folkloric primitivism, meltingly lush romanticism, elegant delicacy, and surprising experimental techniques. OEDIPE was Enescu's only opera, but he shows a sure hand in the vividness of his musical characterizations and in creating dramatic tension, which the story has in abundance. The opera's finale is absolutely stunning, with wave after wave of surging, astonishing grandeur that finally subsides into an ending of breathtaking serenity. OEDIPE clearly has the musical and dramatic values to merit serious consideration for revival by adventurous companies, and exploration by fans of modern opera."
- Stephen Eddins, allmusic.com
"...the French bass Xavier Depraz had a warm basso cantante voice which darkened a little in its bottom register, opening out into a lower extension quite unusual for its type, enabling him to sing Mozart's bass roles convincingly....He is a touching Don Quichotte, a role he could have been born to sing....Nilakantha's stanzas from LAKME are beautiful....one of his best roles [is] Basile in the Opéra-Comique version of BARBIERE...."
- Tully Potter, THE RECORD COLLECTOR, 2016
“Geneviève Moizan entered the Conservatoire de Paris in 1942, and upon graduation in 1946 she won first prize in the Saint Sulpice competition. She débuted at the Paris Opéra in 1949 as Marguérite in FAUST (with Noré and André Pernet), moving on to a vast repertoire. She often appeared in Monte Carlo, Geneva, Strasbourg, Brussels, Algiers, etc. It was, however, her collaboration with the ORTF which gained her the essential part of her national popularity for almost twenty-five years.
With its clear timbre, her lyric soprano was equally acclaimed in both dramatic and mezzo-soprano rôles: Werther, Sapho, Le Roi d'Ys, Mignon, Il Trovatore, etc.”
- Zillah D. Akron
"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 CARMELITES, 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 Epoque.
Gorr's international reputation began with her appearances at the 1958 Bayreuth Festival as Fricka in DAS RHEINGOLD (her festival debut) and DIE WALKURE and the Third Norn in GOTTERAMMERUNG. 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 debuts in autumn 1962 at the Metropolitan Opera, as Amneris to Leontyne Price's Aida 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-Saens' 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 HERODIADE for the American Opera Society (1964), with Régine Crespin as Salome. In 1992, she sang Neris in a concert of Cherubini's MEDEE 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
"Soprano Berthe Monmart debuted at L'Opéra-Comique on 18 April, 1951 as the Countess in NOZZE. She then appeared as Ariadne in ARIADNE AUF NAXOS, Santuzza in CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA, Fiordiligi in COSI FAN TUTTE and Charlotte in WERTHER."
- Z. D. Akron
"Charles Bruck, a Hungarian-French conductor, was born in Timisoara, Hungary (now Romania), in 1911. He became a French citizen and was active in the Résistance, and was made an officer in the French Legion of Honor.
After courses at the Vienna Conservatory and studies in piano and composition (as well as law) in Paris. He left Romania in 1928 for a year of studies in Vienna, then travelled on to Paris. There he studied with Alfred Cortot, Nadia Boulanger and Vlado Perlemuter at the Ã‰cole Normale de Musique. In 1934 he began studies with French conductor Pierre Monteux, following him to San Francisco where Bruck served as Monteux's assistant. He went on to direct the Netherlands Opera, the Strasbourg Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Paris Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, making many guest appearances and recordings and championing many 20th-century composers.
After the Second World War, Bruck assumed chief conductor positions with the Orchestra of the Netherlands Opera in Amsterdam (1950-1954), the Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg (1955-1965), and the Orchestre Philharmonique de l'ORTF in Paris (1965-1970). In 1969, he succeeded Monteux as director of his conducting school in Maine, a post he held for twenty-six years until his death there in 1995.
Bruck was a champion of contemporary music and presented hundreds of world premieres in his career. He also taught at The Hartt School of Music where he served as Director of Orchestral Activities. He was a visiting professor at Princeton University in 1992.
Bruck died in Hancock, Maine, USA. A play about his career as Master of the Pierre Monteux School, called MUSE OF FIRE, written by David Katz, one of his students, was premiered in Maine in 2005 and has since toured extensively."
- THE NEW YORK TIMES, 22 July, 1995