OP3295. LES BRIGANDS, Broadcast Performance, 1953, w.Gressier Cond. Denise Duval, Willy Clement, René Lenotty, Michel Hamel, Gaston Rey, etc.; POMME D'API, Broadcast Performance, 1962, w.Tony Aubin Cond. Lina Dachary, Joseph Peyron & Gaston Rey (both Offenbach). [This Offenbach delicacy is not to be missed . . . among the most enchanting of Malibran's issues!] (France) 2-Malibran 809. - 7600003778093
"LES BRIGANDS is an Opéra Bouffe in three acts by Jacques Offenbach. Libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy Premiered at the Théâtre des Variétés on 10 December 1869.
Jacques Offenbach, the Second Empire emblematic composer, was one of the originators of operetta, contributing to the European success of a genre designed for the Parisian public with the burlesque spirit of early opéra comique. Between 1855 and 1880 Offenbach staged about a hundred works at the Bouffes Parisiens and in other houses of the Boulevard and developed operetta to match opéra bouffe. The last great success before the 1870 Franco-Prussian war, whose 'saber rattling' already resounds in the famous carabinieri chorus, LES BRIGANDS displays a reversed world in which geography and conventions are mistreated, brigandage prevails, the army is on parade rather than on the battlefield and money no longer brings happiness! A delightful parody of the repertoire’s most famous titles - ZAMPA and FRA DIAVOLO leading the way - LES BRIGANDS celebrates opéra comique with a highly inventive score."
“POMME D'API is a one-act opérette of 1873 by Jacques Offenbach with a French libretto by Ludovic Halévy and William Busnach. Offenbach had heard Louise Théo singing in café-concert in Paris and although her voice was unremarkable, her stage presence made him decide to centre his next stage work around her. Run-throughs of the opera took place during the summer of 1873 at the 'Villa Orphée' home in Étretat which Offenbach had built and furnished with the royalties from ORPHÉE AUX ENFERS. Théo's success in POMME D'API stimulated Offenbach to create a full-length work around her for the Renaissance. In seven weeks he composed LA JOLIE PARFUMEUSE which, as with the one-act piece, perfectly suited her talent.
The première was on 4 September 1873 at the Théâtre de la Renaissance, Paris, on the same bill as LA PERMISSION DE DIX HEURES. On 20 April 1874 POMME D'API was seen at the Théâtre des Bouffes-Parisiens on a bill with LES RENDEZ-VOUS BOURGEOIS and LA CHANSON DE FORTUNIO and ran for 60 performances.”
"Denise Duval didn't set out to be a muse. In 1947, as a freshly engaged contract singer, she was rehearsing MADAMA BUTTERFLY at Paris’ Opéra-Comique when a voice bellowed from the darkened auditorium, ‘That’s the soprano I need!’ It was Francis Poulenc, in search of a leading lady for his new comic opera, LES MAMELLES DE TIRÉSIAS. In his frustrated state, he’d likely have settled for almost any suitable singer; instead, he’d just found his ideal. For the next sixteen years - until the end of his life - Denise Duval was his colleague, his friend, his inspiration….it was with the Bordeaux Opéra that she made her professional stage début in 1943 as Lola in CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA. Over her next two years there, she graduated to Santuzza and to a wide range of roles better suited to her lean, pointed, typically Gallic lyric soprano - Marguerite in FAUST, Mimì, Micaela, Mélisande, Thaïs, and the one that became an early calling-card, Cio-Cio-San. In 1945, Duval traveled to Paris for an audition at the Opéra - and wound up, through a chain of fortuitous connections, with a year’s contract at the Folies-Bergère, where night after night, discreetly costumed, she sang ‘Un bel dì’ and a Chopin song. ‘My parents were thunderstruck, and my teacher nearly had a stroke’, she recalled years later.
The Opéra and the Opéra-Comique finally beckoned, and she made her début at the bigger house, as Salomé in HÉRODIADE, and at its smaller sibling in that career-changing BUTTERFLY. When the frothy, satirical MAMELLES had its premiere, in June 1947 - incongruously, after an already full evening of TOSCA - it was ‘booed, insulted and hissed’, Duval remembered. But like so many other Parisian theatrical scandals, it quickly became an event, and Poulenc soon was writing to a friend, ‘I have an unbelievable Thérèse who is stunning Paris with her beauty, her gifts as an actress and her voice’….Her career blossomed further at both the Opéra and the Comique, where in 1949 she created another role, Francesca in Reynaldo Hahn’s posthumously staged LE OUI DES JEUNES FILLES. In 1952 and 1953, for EMI, she made her first recordings, as Concepción in L’HEURE ESPAGNOLE and as Thérèse in MAMELLES. Her professional itinerary broadened its reach to Monte Carlo, Milan, Aix, Cologne and Florence. But she didn’t hit full stride until 1957, when, at the Opéra, she sang in the French-language premiere of DIALOGUES DES CARMÉLITES, as Blanche, a role Poulenc wrote for her and one she memorably committed to disc on EMI’s still unsurpassed original-Paris-cast recording. In 1959, she scored a still more indelible success as Elle in the premiere (at the Comique) of LA VOIX HUMAINE, the Jean Cocteau monodrama couture-tailored to her talents by Poulenc. In 1960, she repeated that triumph for the opera’s British début (at Edinburgh, with Glyndebourne forces) and its American premiere, as half of an American Opera Society double bill with MAMELLES at Carnegie Hall. The latter stirred the Times’s Howard Taubman to write, ‘It is difficult to imagine a more convincing and more affecting performance than Miss Duval’s’. It led, too, to her Dallas Civic Opera début in 1961, in an elaborate THAÏS directed by Franco Zeffirelli, just as the Edinburgh engagement prompted a two-summer run at Glyndebourne as Mélisande. A broadcast of the second-year revival, from 1963, was issued on official Glyndebourne CDs.
But Poulenc had died earlier that year, and Duval never quite rallied. Following what turned out to be the last of her dozens of performances of Blanche, in Buenos Aires in 1965, she collapsed from a cortisone overdose and essentially retired from singing. After a lengthy recovery, she taught at the École Française de Musique and occasionally directed. But she left two treasured mementi of those latter years - a 1970 film (by director Dominique Delouche) of LA VOIX HUMAINE, in which she gives a riveting lip-synched performance to her own classic recording of a decade earlier; and a master class captured by Delouche in 1998, in which, still très soignée at seventy-seven, she remains the Elle with whom all her successors must reckon.
‘I’m proud that my name will always be connected with [Poulenc’s]’, she once said. The man who called her ‘my Duval’ would surely have returned the compliment.”
-Patrick Dillon, OPERA NEWS, 26 Jan., 2016