Jean Giraudeau - A lyrical voice and a superb Character Actor.

Jean Giraudeau - A lyrical voice and a superb Character Actor.
Jean Giraudeau – A lyrical voice and a superb Character Actor.

– Maurice Emmanuel – Salamine –  excerpts from Acts 1,2 and 3 – Cast and Chorus conducted by Tony Aubin – ORTF, Paris – March 29, 1958 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –

Excerpts from seldom performed French operas this week. Tonight, it’s the 1958 broadcast performance of excerpts from Acts 1, 2 and 3 of Salamine by the late 19th/early 20th century French composer Maurice Emmanuel.

This performance, broadcast on March 29, 1958 features tenor Jean Giraudeau, with Flore Wend, Andrè Veyssieères, Bernard Demigny, Lucien Lovano and Joseph Peyron. With the Orchestra and Chorus of the ORTF conducted by Tony Aubin.

Maurice Emmanuel pursued a notable academic career. He wrote a treatise in 1895 on the music of Ancient Greece, for which he earned a doctorate in 1896. He taught art history at the Lycée Racine and Lycée Lamartine until 1904, when he became choirmaster at the church of Sainte-Clotilde, assisted by Émile Poillot, during the tenure of organist Charles Tournemire, serving until 1907. He was appointed professor of the history of music at the Conservatoire in 1909, and taught there until 1936. His students included Robert Casadesus, Yvonne Lefébure, Georges Migot, Jacques Chailley, Olivier Messiaen and Henri Dutilleux. Emmanuel destroyed all but 30 works composed up to 1938; he died in Paris that year.

Emmanuel’s interests included folksong, Oriental music, and exotic modes — his use of these modes in various of his works had appalled Delibes, who had vetoed his entering for the Prix de Rome. The compositions of Emmanuel, seldom heard today even in France, include operas after Aeschylus (Prométhée enchaîné and Salamine) as well as symphonies and string quartets. Probably the creations of his most often performed now are his six sonatines for solo piano, which (like many of his other pieces) demonstrate his eclectic academic interests. The first of the sonatines draws on the music of Burgundy, while the second incorporates birdsong, the third uses a Burgundian folk tune in its finale, and the fourth is subtitled en divers modes hindous (“in various Hindu modes”).

Having sung in a pioneering BBC broadcast of Les Troyens recorded in May and June 1947, Jean Giraudeau made his debut at the Opéra-Comique on 23 July that year as Nadir in The Pearl Fishers , going on to create roles in Once Upon a Little Ship by Germaine Tailleferre in 1951 (Valentin) and in Marion, ou la Belle au tricorne by Pierre Wissmer in 1951 (Fabrice).

At the Opéra-Comique Giraudeau also sang in Madame Bovary by Emmanuel Bondeville (Charles Bovary), Blaise le cobbler by Philidor (Blaise), Ariane à Naxos (Bacchus), Lakmé (Gérald), The Barber of Seville (Almaviva), Così fan tutte (Ferrando), Les Indes galantes (Valère), Manon (Des Grieux), Madama Butterfly (Pinkerton) Les Mamelles de Tirésias (le Mari) and L’Heure español (Gonzalve).

At the Paris Opera he made his first appearance two weeks after his Salle Favart, debut playing Tamino in The Magic Flute , following this with David in Die Meistersinger , Alfredo in La Traviata , and created Nicador in Bolivar , and sang the Chevalier de la Force in the French premiere of Dialogues des carmélites. Appearances outside France included Lensky in Eugene Onegin at the Bolshoi.

As far as I know, there is no commercial recording of this opera – and from the looks of it, this is the only broadcast performance that seems to have survived, although there are two others, from 1967 and 1969 which may or may not have been recorded. That’s too bad since, by the sounds of it, Salamine gives the impression of a fascinating opera, and it would be great to hear a complete performance some day.

But until then . . . .

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