The legendary Martha Angelici heading up a top-notch cast in rarely performed Charpentier.

The legendary Martha Angelici heading up a top-notch cast in rarely performed Charpentier.
The legendary Martha Angelici heading up a top-notch group of soloists in rarely performed Charpentier.

– Marc-Antoine Charpentier – Miserere (extended excerpts) – circa 1953 – ORTF, Paris – Gordon Skene Sound Collection

Over to Paris this week for a performance of a seldom heard work (in the 1950s), the Miserere for Chorus, soloists, organ and Orchestra by the 17th century composer Marc-Antoine Charpentier with the legendary Martha Angelici and soloists including Solange Michel, Jean Archimbault, Louis Noguera – the chorus of Jeunesses Musicales and members of the French National Orchestra conducted by Louis Martini with Organist Guy Lambert.

The work, according to notes, was languishing in manuscript form in the Archives of the Bibliothèque nationale de France for some 300 years before Organist and musicologist Guy Lambert pored over the pages and resurrected the work for this broadcast and for subsequent commercial recordings.

Unfortunately, this is only an extended excerpt (less than some 20 minutes) of the first 20th century performance. But it’s a historic document nonetheless featuring a stellar group of singers headed up by Martha Angelici.

Martha Angelici (22 May 1907 – 11 September 1973), was a French operatic soprano of Corsican origin, particularly associated with the French lyric repertoire.

Angelici was born in Cargèse. While still very young she moved with her family to Belgium, where she studied voice in Brussels with Alfred Mahy. She began singing on radio for the Belgian, Dutch and Luxembourgian audiences in 1933, and gave her first public concert at the Kurzaal of Ostend in 1934. Her first stage performance was in Marseille, as Mimi in La bohème, in 1936.

She made her debut at the Opéra-Comique in 1938, where she had a long and successful career, and made her debut at the Palais Garnier in 1953, as Micaela in Carmen, other notable roles included Leila, Pamina, Nedda, etc. She made a few guest appearances at the Monte Carlo Opera and La Monnaie in Brussels. She was much admired in French baroque music notably in Rameau’s Les Indes galantes.

What is Sunday without surprises? Enjoy.

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