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Prima Voce - French Opera / Caruso, Farrar, Journet


Release Date: 08/11/1994 
Label:  Nimbus   Catalog #: 7859   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Charles GounodJules MassenetAmbroise ThomasGeorges Bizet
Performer:  Marcel JournetEnrico CarusoGeraldine FarrarMario Ancona,   ... 
Conductor:  Walter Rogers
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Mono 
Length: 1 Hours 16 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

The extracts from Faust are the great attractions here, just as the opera itself was itself in the late nineteenth century. At that point it was probably the most performed opera in Europe. Perhaps by the time these recordings were made between 1906 and 1911 it had started its fall from this exalted position to somewhere on the outer edge of the core repertoire of most opera houses. When listening to many modern performances or recordings this fall may seem understandable, but listening to this disc makes it clear that the style of performance is crucial. Mere belting from the tenor is not enough, the bass needs to be suave and not merely powerful, and the soprano needs not just power but also the ability to make the coloratura of Read more the Jewel Song sound convincingly joyful. It would be easy to list modern singers, even on the best of current recordings, who fail these tests. The great pleasure of this disc is to hear three singers who pass them. As a result the music springs to life.
 
I understand from the booklet notes that the singers on this disc were all experienced in their roles but never actually sang them together on the same night. That would have been an occasion indeed but it is good to have their various recordings gathered together here. Unfortunately not all of them are included, and part of the Garden scene and some other ensembles recorded at that time together with “Avant de quitter” are missing. Room could easily have been made for them by omitting some of the other French items and I have no idea why they were not included; perhaps due to the unavailability of suitable copies. Nonetheless it would be churlish to complain when such real riches are here. To be able to eavesdrop on the very best of performances which might have taken place a hundred years ago is a very special pleasure. All of the principals are ideal for their roles. Caruso’s mixture of power and ease, and his magical and idiomatic phrasing, are a glorious antidote to the crude or underpowered tenors usually heard today. Like all three of the main singers he has a forward projection of the words. Journet is even better in this respect, showing how wholly misguided is the tradition which probably stems from Chaliapin of playing Mephistopheles as almost a pantomime villain. Instead he sounds the kind of cultivated gent to whom the elderly Faust might well have responded. Only towards the end does Journet reveal the real Devil underneath. Farrar has both the requisite flexibility and the necessary dramatic power. All in all, these all-too-brief extracts do indicate just how effective the work can be given the right performers.
 
The other items are also all well worth hearing, from Journet in Vulcan’s song from Philémon et Baucis to the tenor/baritone duet from Les Pêcheurs des Perles (in Italian). By now views on the Nimbus transfer system are probably fixed beyond the possibility of change, so that I will say only that personally I have enjoyed listening to recordings of this era most when heard through a large horn on a gramophone of the time so that for me to replicate this is just about ideal. Others, I know, have very different views but surely in this case the importance of the material should make this disc essential listening even if you might have preferred a different method of transfer.
 
The booklet notes are good, without texts or translations but with brief but helpful notes on the dramatic situation in each extract, and instructive notes on the operas and the singers.  


-- John Sheppard, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
Philémon et Baucis: Au bruit des lourds marteaux by Charles Gounod
Performer:  Marcel Journet (Bass)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1860; France 
Date of Recording: 01/15/1910 
Length: 3 Minutes 8 Secs. 
Language: French 
2.
Manon: On l'appelle Manon by Jules Massenet
Performer:  Enrico Caruso (Tenor), Geraldine Farrar (Soprano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1883-1884; France 
Date of Recording: 12/30/1912 
Length: 4 Minutes 14 Secs. 
Language: French 
Notes: This selection begins with "J'écris à mon père..." 
3.
Mignon: Légères hirondelles by Ambroise Thomas
Performer:  Marcel Journet (Bass), Geraldine Farrar (Soprano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1866; France 
Date of Recording: 01/16/1910 
Length: 3 Minutes 50 Secs. 
Language: French 
4.
Le jongleur de Notre-Dame: Fleurissait une Rose "Légende" by Jules Massenet
Performer:  Marcel Journet (Bass)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1902; France 
Date of Recording: 01/07/1908 
Length: 4 Minutes 15 Secs. 
Language: French 
5.
Les pêcheurs de perles: De mon amie, fleur endormie by Georges Bizet
Performer:  Enrico Caruso (Tenor)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1863; France 
Date of Recording: 12/07/1916 
Length: 2 Minutes 15 Secs. 
Language: French 
6.
Les pêcheurs de perles: Je crois entendre encore by Georges Bizet
Performer:  Enrico Caruso (Tenor)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1863; France 
Date of Recording: 12/07/1916 
Length: 4 Minutes 39 Secs. 
Language: French 
7.
Les pêcheurs de perles: Comme autrefois by Georges Bizet
Performer:  Enrico Caruso (Tenor), Mario Ancona (Baritone)
Conductor:  Walter Rogers
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1863; Paris, France 
Date of Recording: 03/24/2007 
Length: 3 Minutes 30 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
8.
Faust: O merveille! by Charles Gounod
Performer:  Enrico Caruso (Tenor), Marcel Journet (Bass)
Conductor:  Walter Rogers
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1859; France 
Date of Recording: 01/16/1910 
Length: 3 Minutes 45 Secs. 
Language: French 
9.
Faust: Le veau d'or est toujours debout by Charles Gounod
Performer:  Marcel Journet (Bass)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1859; France 
Date of Recording: 03/08/1906 
Length: 2 Minutes 6 Secs. 
Language: French 
10.
Faust: Salut! demeure chaste et pure by Charles Gounod
Performer:  Enrico Caruso (Tenor)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1859; France 
Date of Recording: 02/11/2006 
Length: 4 Minutes 22 Secs. 
Language: French 
11.
Faust: Ah! je ris de me voir si belle "Jewel Song" by Charles Gounod
Performer:  Geraldine Farrar (Soprano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1859; France 
Date of Recording: 02/27/1913 
Length: 3 Minutes 16 Secs. 
Language: French 
Notes: This selection begins with "Je voudrais bien savoir..." 
12.
Faust: Il était temps...O nuit étends sur eux by Charles Gounod
Performer:  Marcel Journet (Bass)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1859; France 
Date of Recording: 01/14/1910 
Length: 2 Minutes 22 Secs. 
Language: French 
13.
Faust: O nuit d'amour by Charles Gounod
Performer:  Enrico Caruso (Tenor), Geraldine Farrar (Soprano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1859; France 
Date of Recording: 01/06/1910 
Length: 7 Minutes 55 Secs. 
Language: French 
14.
Faust: Vous qui faites l'endormie "Serenade" by Charles Gounod
Performer:  Marcel Journet (Bass)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1859; France 
Date of Recording: 03/08/1906 
Length: 3 Minutes 28 Secs. 
Language: French 
15.
Faust: Que voulez-vous, messieurs? by Charles Gounod
Performer:  Enrico Caruso (Tenor), Antonio Scotti (Tenor), Marcel Journet (Bass)
Conductor:  Walter Rogers
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1859; France 
Date of Recording: 01/16/1910 
Length: 3 Minutes 37 Secs. 
Language: French 
16.
Faust: Act 4, scene 2 [Death of Valentin] by Charles Gounod
Performer:  Antonio Scotti (Tenor)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1859; France 
Date of Recording: 01/19/1911 
Length: 4 Minutes 34 Secs. 
Language: French 
17.
Faust: Mon coeur est pénétré...Attends, voici la rue by Charles Gounod
Performer:  Enrico Caruso (Tenor), Geraldine Farrar (Soprano)
Conductor:  Walter Rogers
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1859; France 
Date of Recording: 01/12/1910 
Length: 7 Minutes 25 Secs. 
Language: French 
18.
Faust: Alerte! Alerte!...Sauvée! by Charles Gounod
Performer:  Geraldine Farrar (Soprano), Marcel Journet (Bass), Enrico Caruso (Tenor)
Conductor:  Walter Rogers
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1859; France 
Date of Recording: 01/16/1910 
Length: 2 Minutes 54 Secs. 
Language: French 

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