V2206. ALBERT LANCE: Arias & Scenes (w.Callas, Crespin, Rhodes, Mesplé, Scharley & Bianco) from Werther, Carmen, Les Contes d'Hoffmann, Hérodiade, Le Cid, Faust, Roméo, Ballo, Il Trovatore, Rigoletto, Pagliacci & Tosca. (France) Malibran 203, recorded 1958-62. - 7600003772039
“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
“The Australian tenor Albert Lance was lucky enough to be the right man at the right place at the right time. He happened to be in Paris in the mid 1950s furthering his vocal training when the Paris Opéra needed a new principal tenor following the retirement of the legendary Georges Thill, who had been France’s ‘national’ tenor for many years. Lance’s voice was so suited to the French repertoire that he became the principal tenor at both the Opéra-Comique and the Palais Garnier and replaced Thill as the leading French tenor for the next two decades….[He was] chosen to sing in the most prestigious events, one of which happened to be Maria Callas’ Paris début in a Gala for the Légion d’Honneur in 1958.”
- Tony Locantro, THE RECORD COLLECTOR, 2015
“[Lance's voice] was firm and strong…He possessed a voice of a very bright acceptable timbre, and technically he is able to maintain an excellent legato, sing long-breathed phrases and produce stunning high B flats and secure ringing top Cs…”
- Alan Bilgora, THE RECORD COLLECTOR, 2013
“Albert Lance was an Australian tenor who also enjoyed French citizenship. He was Australia's principal tenor during the 1950s and later enjoyed a highly successful career in France. He was born in Menindee, South Australia as Lancelot Albert Ingram, but was usually known as Lance Ingram. After an audition at the Melbourne Opera, he was immediately offered a contract. He made his début there, as Cavaradossi in TOSCA, in 1950, and went on to sing Rodolfo in LA BOHÈME, and Pinkerton in MADAMA BUTTERFLY, to considerable acclaim.
Having changed his professional name from Lance Ingram to Albert Lance, he made his Paris début at the Opéra-Comique in 1955, as Cavaradossi. The following year, he made his début at the Palais Garnier, in the title role in FAUST, and the success was immediate. He quickly established himself as one of the leading ‘French' tenors of the time, at both the Opéra-Comique and the Opéra until 1972, singing the great French roles such as Roméo, des Grieux in MANON, Werther, Don José, etc. He was also invited to perform at the opera houses of Lyon, Bordeaux, and Marseille, as well as London, Vienna, Moscow, Leningrad, and Buenos Aires. Lance was also much appreciated in the Italian repertory, adding to his repertory the lead tenor roles in RIGOLETTO, LA TRAVIATA, CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA, PAGLIACCI and others.
Lance made his American début at the San Francisco Opera in 1961, in the creation of Norman Dello Joio's BLOOD MOON. He also appeared in Los Angeles and Philadelphia. Lance became a permanent member of the Opéra national du Rhin in Strasbourg from 1973 until his retirement in 1977. After his retirement from the stage, Lance turned to full-time teaching, first at the Music Conservatory of Nice, and later Antibes. Lance became a French citizen in 1967.
Lance left a few recordings, notably a complete WERTHER made in 1964, with Rita Gorr, Mady Mesplé, Gabriel Bacquier, conducted by Jésus Etcheverry. There is also a complete MADAMA BUTTERFLY (in French) from the Opéra Comique de Paris conducted Albert Wolff from 1957 with Lance as Pinkerton, and scenes from HÉRODIADE conducted by Georges Prêtre from 1963 with Lance as Jean alongside the Salomé of Régine Crespin and Hérodiade of Rita Gorr.
EMI has published the kinescope of the 1958 Paris debut of Maria Callas, ‘La Grande Nuit de l'Opéra’, in which Lance appeared, on DVD. He is heard in an excerpt from IL TROVATORE, and is seen in a staged Act II of TOSCA, opposite Callas and Tito Gobbi, conducted by Georges Sébastian. In March 2011, the French opera community announced that Lance would be the first Australian to be the President of the Paris Opera Jubilee.”
- Zillah Dorset Akron