V2550. CHARLES ROUSSELIÈRE: Songs by Beethoven, Holmès, Saint-Saëns & Leoncavallo; Arias from Cavalleria Rusticana, Martha, Lucia, La Favorite, Mireille, Le Cid, Werther, Carmen, Hérodiade, La Juive, Sigurd, Die Walküre, Siegfried, Götterdämmerung, Parsifal, Lohengrin & Tannhäuser. (England) The Record Collector TRC 46, recorded 1903-30. Transfers by Norman White.
“Charles Rousselière (1875-1950) is a name known to only the most serious of vocal collectors. He belongs to a grand tradition of French spinto and dramatic tenors of whom Leon Escalais and Paul Franz were probably the most prominent representatives. Others from the same period whose names might be familiar to collectors are Lucien Muratore and Charles Dalmorès, and Andre Arkor and Cesar Vézzani from a later generation. Rousselière‘s voice has a firm center, plenty of power balanced with a feel for the lyrical line, and a wonderful mezza voce. A few high notes on the present release seem a bit tight, but others ring out with real authority. He seems equally at home in Wagner as in Massenet and Gounod. There are extensive Wagnerian excerpts on this disc. Most of the recordings reproduced here are acoustics from 1903, but in 1930, after he had retired from the stage, Rousselière returned to the studio to make eight electrical recordings. Two are songs by Beethoven and Reynaldo Hahn; the other six are Wagnerian.
Rousselière sang at the Paris Opéra beginning in 1900, debuting as Samson, and he quickly became one of the Company’s leading tenors. Apparently his singing of the title role in SIEGFRIED garnered comparison with his predecessor Jean de Reszke. The Wagner solos, particularly those from 1903, demonstrate a natural feeling for the idiom and a strong, ringing tenor. Even the 1930 electrical recordings are thrilling, though the voice has lost just a bit of its juice. Here is a singer gifted with power and an equal degree of sensitivity. The recording of Siegfried’s Forging Song is the stuff of legends. In addition to Paris, Rousselière was a star at the Monte Carlo Opera for a decade and sang in Montevideo, Buenos Aires, Madrid and Barcelona. He had the privilege of introducing PARSIFAL to Argentina at the Teatro Colon in 1914. There are some lovely examples on the program demonstrating Rousselière’s musicality, such as the final song from Beethoven’s AN DIE FERNE GELIEBTE and the seamless legato in the Donizetti selections.
Although I had read Rousselière’s name in J. B. Steane’s THE GRAND TRADITION, I had not encountered him before receiving this disc. I was thrilled with what I heard, and continue to be on repeated listening….for the most part these are deeply satisfying recordings of a major voice that will be a wonderful discovery for anyone with an interest in the development of singing in the early twentieth century.
The transfers are superb, and despite the absence of texts, there are excellent, in-depth notes and full documentation of the original sources.”
- Henry Fogel, FANFARE
“Over a number of seasons [at the Monte Carlo Opera, Rousselière undertook several heavy roles, previously sung by Tamagno and Jean de Reszke, was much admired for appearances in a number of Wagner’s works and appeared in several important premieres, when he was consistently a member of casts that included some of the greatest singers of the time. He enjoyed a truly international career. In the pantheon of fine French tenors active at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century his recordings have long been sought after and cherished by collectors....this compilation certainly does justice to yet another tenor whose recorded work we feel should be represented in every collection by lovers of singing.”
- Alan Bilgora, Program Notes
“Rousselière’s discography is of great interest. His records are highly sought after by lovers of the tenor voice. Most of his work was for G&T in 1903, with occasional forays with such companies as Pathé, Odéon, Beka and Eden. He was able to record for G&T excerpts from most of his important parts and, for such early recordings, they are surprisingly successful, capturing a voice of great power, yet suffused throughout with obvious beauty and a nobility of line and utterance. After 1907 there is a gap in his discography until 1930, when he made his only electric recordings, for Polydor. Though the unique beauty of that voice has obviously faded, its great power largely remained and he made a number of successful recordings of excerpts by his beloved Wagner. However, it remains a mystery why Polydor should have invited a tenor, whose career had largely been over since 1921/22, to return to record after 8 years in retirement.”
- Larry Lustig, THE RECORD COLLECTOR