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Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Great Suzanne Balguerie


The Great Suzanne Balguerie

Born in Le Havre in 1872, Balguerie—easily one of the greatest of Frech sopranos, began her studies as a girl at the Conservatoire National de Paris. In spite of her early studies, her original appearances came late.  Part of the reason for this was that she was, almost from the beginning, most interested in contemporary concert music.  The result of this was a limited venue and a very small audience. She was greatly praised and much appreciated by such an audience as existed at that time, but in that period it was almost always opera that was the short and sure road to popular success, especially for a young and beautiful woman, with a voice as stunning as that of Balguerie.    This being the case, it was not until the early 1920’s that she appeared on the operatic stage, first at the  Opéra-Comique, home of so many great debuts,  as Ariane in Dukas’s Ariane et Barbe-bleu.  She remained a member of this opera house for more than twenty years—as well as at the Paris Grand Opéra, often in contemporary roles.  She also developed a reputation as a superb singer of Wagnerian roles.  Her voice was that of a dramatic soprano, with an upper register that was remarkably elegant for so dramatic a voice. She was very popular indeed in France, and—perhaps as a result—seldom sang outside France.  She sang until 1950, when she retired and became a successful voice teacher. She died in Grenoble in 1973.  Here she is in a Verdi aria, “O Patria Mia,” that clearly shows why she was also so successful in this repertoire:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-5doqJe24g

Isn’t that simply lovely!  The elegance and lyrical flow of the opening lines of music is simply remarkable.  Seldom if ever is so beautiful a tone joined to so remarkable a legato line.  The upper register is equally remarkable because is so restrained.  Still, it is there, with power a-plenty, simply waiting to be called upon!

It was within the Wagnerian repertoire, however, that this spectacular voice found so much of its early operatic acceptance.  Here is “La Mort d’Isolde.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DIJ3peBRxI4 

Power, elegance, and style—but mostly elegance.  The building blocks of the voice of one of the greatest sopranos of the 20th century, without doubt!

 

 

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Very interesting voice. I did not know of here before this, and until now Regine Crespin was the best French soprano I had heard sing Wagner.

Can you provide any information as to the prevelance of European performers singing in their native language? For example, Wunderlich seems to have sung exclusively in German, and I'm aware of a number of Italians who always sung in Italian. Has this changed (depending upon country) and when did that start to occur?

Anonymous said...

Very interesting voice. I did not know of here before this, and until now Regine Crespin was the best French soprano I had heard sing Wagner.

Can you provide any information as to the prevelance of European performers singing in their native language? For example, Wunderlich seems to have sung exclusively in German, and I'm aware of a number of Italians who always sung in Italian. Has this changed (depending upon country) and when did that start to occur?

Anonymous said...

Very interesting voice. I did not know of here before this, and until now Regine Crespin was the best French soprano I had heard sing Wagner.

Can you provide any information as to the prevelance of European performers singing in their native language? For example, Wunderlich seems to have sung exclusively in German, and I'm aware of a number of Italians who always sung in Italian. Has this changed (depending upon country) and when did that start to occur?

Anonymous said...

Very elegant indeed. It looks so easy for her voice to sing like this. I couldn't feel any kind of struggle in her voice, just fluid and beautiful sound. Thanks for the sharing.

Btw, sorry about off-topic, are you planning to make an article about the spinto soprano Elisabete Matos? I think she still sings now, but she's already passed here prime.

Domingues

Gerhard Santos said...

It's a very useful blog.Keep on sharing your information. Thanks Dear Edmund!

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot for this article, Edmund. Balgueries voice is among the most beautiful voices I ever heard.She was amazing.
Im very glad that you are back .
N.A.

Edmund St. Austell said...

Thank you very much my friend! I agree with you. One of the most beautiful voices I have ever heard! So good to hear from you!

Anonymous said...

So marvelous to have you back, cher maître. Balguérie is certainly at the top of the heap. I have for a long time been particularly fond of her Gluck and Dukas aria recordings. Hard to imagine either the ¨O malheureuse Iphigénie"or the material from Ariane et Barbe-Bleue being equalled. In re. her regard for contemporary music it is perhaps worth noting that Balguérie was something of a polymath, unusual in singers, and an accomplished graphic artist as well.

Darren Seacliffe said...

Dear Edmund,

I hope the second email I sent through Jing reached you. It's good news to know that you're up and about doing what you love once more.

I understand that there's a lot which remains to be done but please don't rush yourself into things or wear yourself out too much in trying to catch up with the stratospheric backlog. We want you to be with us for the long haul so please take your time over it. The people who've waited patiently for your return with optimism and hope wouldn't mind waiting a little longer for a just cause such as this.


There might be a slight indisposition as a lingering after-effect of that illness which struck you but with optimism and perseverance, I'm sure you can turn this slight indisposition into a mild irritant.

I wish I could say more but for now these are the limited words I can use to express my feelings.

Jef Roberts said...

Wonderful write up, Edmund on one of my very favorite singers. Her recorded legacy is small, but every one of them is an absolute gem and reveal her to my ears as one of the great singers of the 20th century.
Good to see that others also appreciate her!
She is getting something of a special release later this year, too. Marston Records is including approximately six remastered tracks of Suzanne Balguerie on their complete Germaine Lubin set scheduled for release in October, 2015.