V0477. MADY MESPLÉ: Songs by Vivaldi, Hahn, Satie, Jolas & Poulenc; Arias from Barbiere, Hamlet, Roméo, Les Noces de Jeannette, Les Saltimbanques, Mme Chrysanthème, Valses de Vienne, Lakmé, Les Contes d'Hoffmann, Mignon, La Sonnambula, Rigoletto & Lucia di Lammermoor. [The unexpected surprise here is Mesplé's exquisite Vivaldi contribution!] (E.U.) 2-EMI 86320. Long out-of-print, Final copy! – 72435863206
“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