V0242. MAGGIE TEYTE: Songs & Arias by Purcell, Martini, Grétry, Pergolesi, Berlioz, Liszt, Tschaikowsky, Hahn, Bizet, Fauré, Chausson, Offenbach, Messager, Duparc, Szulc, de Fontenailles, Paladilhe, Debussy, Ravel, Russell, Elgar, Quilter, Romberg, etc. (Canada) 2-Naxos 8.110757/58, recorded 1932-48. Transfers by Ward Marston. Final Copy! - 636943175729
“Dame Maggie Teyte 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 debut 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 role, 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 (!). ‘It was Bonjour, Monsieur Debussy and Bonsoir, Monsieur Debussy’, she later recalled. 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 NOZZE, Blonde in ENTFÜHRUNG, 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. An Australian tour was a financial fiasco. Twice she attempted an American comeback, but managers, though kind and sympathetic, were reluctant to hire her. It seemed that the public had forgotten her. At some point in the mid-thirties, it was proposed that Maggie Teyte sing Salome with the Royal Opera, Covent Garden. The project never became a reality, but Teyte privately recorded four excerpts from the opera with the noted pianist George Reeves at the keyboard. Judging by these recordings, Teyte would have made a formidable Salome, perhaps the closest to Strauss’ ideal (the composer’s unrealized fantasy was to hear the slender-voiced Elisabeth Schumann in the title role).
Unfortunately, we have too few recordings of this superb singer. Most of her recordings were made when she was over 50 years old. What a loss that such a voice and interpreter was not captured on record at the previous decade. 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. There was hardly a bar of music not heavily scored: vowel sounds, dynamic and expressive nuances, all were noted, and vertical pencil lines divided each bar into beats, so that every of the groupings of short time-values was exact and also exactly in place. Maggie Teyte’s recordings are indispensable for lovers of French music.”
- Edward Blickstein