Hector Dufranne (25 October 1870 – 4 May 1951) was a Belgian operatic bass-baritone who enjoyed a long career that took him to opera houses throughout Europe and the United States for more than four decades. Admired for both his singing and his acting, Dufranne appeared in a large number of world premieres, most notably the role Golaud in the original Opéra-Comique production of Claude Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande at the Salle Favart in Paris in 1902, which he went on to sing 120 times at that house.He had an excellent singing technique which maintained the quality of his voice even into the latter part of his career. His wide vocal range and rich resonant voice enabled him to sing a variety of roles which encompassed French, German, and Italian opera.
Dufranne was born in Mons. He studied at the Brussels Conservatory with Désiré Demest before making his professional opera debut in 1896 at La Monnaie as Valentin in Charles Gounod's Faust .He returned to that opera house several times to sing such roles as Grymping in Vincent d'Indy's Fervaal (1897), Alberich in Richard Wagner's Das Rheingold (1898), Thomas in Jan Blockx's Thyl Uylenspiegel (1900), Thoas in Christoph Willibald Gluck's Iphigénie en Tauride (1902), the Innkeeper in Engelbert Humperdinck's Königskinder (1912), and Rocco in Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari's I gioielli della Madonna (1913).
Dufranne sang at the Opéra-Comique in Paris from 1900 to 1912, making his first appearance as Thoas. He appeared in several world premieres with the company including creating the roles of Saluces in Griselidis (1901), the title role in Alfred Bruneau's L' Ouragan (1901), Golaud in Pelléas et Mélisande (1902), Amaury-Ganelon in La Fille de Roland by Henri Rabaud (1904), Koebi in Gustave Doret's Les Armaillis (1906), the title role in Xavier Leroux's Le Chemineau , Clavaroche in Fortunio by André Messager (1907), the fiancé in Raoul Laparra's La Habanéra (1908), and Don Iñigo Gomez in Maurice Ravel's L'Heure espagnole (1911). He also sang Scarpia in the Opéra-Comique’s first production of Giacomo Puccini's Tosca (1909).
Dufranne also appeared periodically at the Paris Opera beginning in 1907. He notably portrayed the role of John the Baptist in their first production of Richard Strauss's Salome (1910). He also sang at the Opéra de Monte-Carlo in 1907 where he took part in the creation of two world premieres, the role of André Thorel in Jules Massenet's Thérèse and the title role in Bruneau's Naïs Micoulin . In 1914 he sang the role of Golaud in his only appearance at the Royal Opera, Covent Garden in London.
In 1908 Dufranne went to the United States for the first time to sing with the Manhattan Opera Company in the American premiere of Pelléas et Mélisande. He returned for several more productions through 1910, appearing as le Prieur in Le jongleur de Notre-Dame (1909), Caoudal in Sapho (1909), Rabo in Jan Blockx's Herbergprinses (performed in Italian as La Princesse d'Auberge, 1909), John the Baptist in Richard Strauss's Salome (1910), and Saluces in Massenet's Griselidis (1910). He also sang with the Chicago Grand Opera Company and the Chicago Opera Association from 1910 to 1922, creating there Léandre in The Love for Three Oranges (in French) by Sergei Prokofiev, in 1921.
In 1922, Dufranne returned to Paris where he continued to appear in operas in all the major houses in addition to appearing in other opera houses in France. He also spent a brief time performing in Amsterdam in 1935. In 1923 he created the part of Don Quixote in the stage première of El retablo de maese Pedro under the baton of the composer, Manuel de Falla. The performance was for a private audience and was held in the private theatre of Winnaretta Singer, Princess Edmond de Polignac; he repeated the role in a Falla triple-bill at the Opéra-Comique in 1928. In 1924, he appeared at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in the world premiere of Léon Sachs's Les Burgraves .
With the outbreak of World War II in 1939, Dufranne retired from the stage, with his last performance being the role of Golaud at the opera house in Vichy. He lived in Paris where he taught singing for many years before his death in 1951. His voice is preserved on a number of historic CD recordings made between 1904 and 1928 which have been issued on CYP 3612. He can also be heard on the first full recording of L’heure espagnole(1931), and in extracts from Pelléas et Mélisande (1927).
Mary Garden was a Scottish operatic soprano with a substantial career in France and America in the first third of the 20th century. She spent the latter part of her childhood and youth in the United States and eventually became an American citizen, although she lived in France for many years and eventually retired to Scotland, where she died.
Pelléas et Mélisande is an opera in five acts with music by Claude Debussy. The French libretto was adapted from Maurice Maeterlinck's symbolist play Pelléas et Mélisande. It was premiered at the Salle Favart in Paris by the Opéra-Comique on 30 April 1902 with Jean Périer as Pelléas and Mary Garden as Mélisande in a performance conducted by André Messager, who was instrumental in getting the Opéra-Comique to stage the work. The only opera Debussy ever completed, it is considered a landmark in 20th-century music.
Albert Louis Wolff was a French conductor and composer of Dutch descent. Most of his career was spent in European venues, with the exception of two years that he spent as a conductor at the Metropolitan Opera and a few years in Buenos Aires during the Second World War. He is most known for holding the position of principal conductor with the Opéra-Comique in Paris for several years. He was married to the French mezzo-soprano Simone Ballard.
Jean-François Lapointe is a Canadian baritone opera singer.
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Jacques Jansen was a French baryton-martin singer, particularly associated with the role of Pelléas in the opera by Debussy, but also active in operetta and on the concert platform, and later as a teacher.
Gabriel Bacquier is a French operatic baritone. One of the leading baritones of the 20th century and particularly associated with the French and Italian repertories, he is considered a fine singing-actor equally at home in dramatic or comic roles.
Jeanne Gerville-Réache was a French operatic contralto from the Belle Époque. She possessed a remarkably beautiful voice, an excellent singing technique, and wide vocal range which enabled her to perform several roles traditionally associated with mezzo-sopranos in addition to contralto parts. Her career began successfully in Europe just before the turn of the twentieth century. She later came to the North America in 1907 where she worked as an immensely popular singer until her sudden death in 1915. She is particularly remembered for her portrayal of Dalila in Camille Saint-Saëns' Samson et Dalila, which she helped establish as an important part of the repertory within the United States. She also notably portrayed the role of Geneviève in the world premiere of Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande in 1902.
Gustave Huberdeau was a French operatic bass-baritone who had a prolific career in Europe and the United States during the first quarter of the twentieth century. He sang a wide repertoire encompassing material from French composers like Gounod and Massenet to the Italian grand operas of Verdi, the verismo operas of Mascagni, and the German operas of Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss. He sang in numerous premieres during his 30-year career, including the original production of Puccini's La rondine in 1917. Although possessing a rich and warm voice, Huberdeau had a talent for comedic portrayals which made him a favorite casting choice in secondary comedic roles as well as leading roles. After retiring from opera in 1927, Huberdeau remained active as a performer in stage plays and in French cinema throughout the 1930s.
Jean (Alexis) Périer was a French operatic baryton-martin and actor. Although he sang principally within the operetta repertoire, Périer did portray a number of opera roles; mostly within operas by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Giacomo Puccini. His career was almost entirely centered in Paris and he had a long association with the Opéra-Comique. He sang in a large number of world premieres, most notably originating the role of Pelléas in Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande in 1902. In addition to his opera career, Périer appeared in several films between 1900 and 1938.
François Le Roux is a French baritone. Le Roux began vocal studies at 19 with François Loup, winning prizes in Barcelona and Rio de Janeiro. He was a member of the Lyon Opera Company from 1980 to 1985, before appearing in many international houses, making his Paris Opéra debut in 1988 as Valentin in Gounod's Faust. He is most renowned for his portrayal of Pelléas in Debussy's opera, first singing the role in 1985 and being hailed by critics as "the greatest Pelléas of his generation". Since 1998 he has also sung Golaud in the same opera to similar acclaim. It was as Golaud he sang in the centenary performance at the Opéra-Comique, and also in the Russian national premiere. He voiced Gaston, the villainous hunter in the European French dub of Disney's "Beauty and the Beast.
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