Tuesday, May 10, 2011

French Opera Singer Jane Rhodes Passes Away at Age 82

"Il va venir" La Juive (Halévy)
Jane Rhodes was born March 13, 1929, in Paris, France. After studying at the Conservatory of Music, she sang in the chorus of the Théâtre du Châtelet in 1953. She made her operatic debut singing the role of Marguerite in La Damnation de Faust by Berlioz at the Grand Tehatre de Nancy. In addition to taking on the repertoire of Puccini's Tosca and Massenet's Werther, she also sang many new works that were adapted from books including Le Fou (Marcel Landowski) in 1956, followed by Le Chevalier de neige (Georges Delerue with a libretto by Boris Vian) in 1957. That same year she sang the role of Renata in the first recording of Prokofiev's The Fiery Angel under the direction of Charles Bruck with the Orchestra of the Paris

"De tous côtés j'aperçois dans
la plaine" Le Roi d'Ys (Lalo)
Opera. The recording was in French and went on to win two Grands Prix du Disque awards. In 1958, she joined the Réunion des Théâtres Lyriques Nationaux and debuted at the Palais Garnier in La Damnation de Faust and Salomé of Richard Strauss at the Palais Garnier and sang Tosca at the l'Opéra-Comique. This led her to be engaged for a gala performance, chaired by Général Charles de Gaulle, at the Palais Garnier in a 1959 Raymond Rouleau production of Bizet's Carmen under a 20-year old conductor named Roberto Benzi who would later become her husband. This role would become synonymous with the singer throughout her career. She quickly became internationally known and was engaged to sing at the Metropolitan Opera in Carmen (1960) & Strauss's Salome (1962), as well as the Festival d'Aix-en-Provence in Monteverdi's L'Incoronazione di Poppea (1961).

"L'amour est un oiseau rebelle"
Carmen (Bizet)
She was an acting student of Pierre Renoir and went on to make several opera films. The first was in 1961 when conductor Georges Dervaux performed La Damnation de Faust. When CBS made the 1962 movie, The Drama of Carmen, Rhodes was chosen to sing the title role under the direction of Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic, that won the Grand Prix Mondial de la Télévision Award. She also played the role of La Sangria in director Serge Friedman's film Un mari, c'est un mari in 1976 which was filmed in France. After her performances of Carmen at the MET, she toured the Paris production in 11 performances in Japan (Tokyo and Osaka) in 1961. During an evening performance in 1968, she sang La Voix humaine of Francis Poulenc and L'Heure espagnole of Maurice Ravel at the l'Opéra-Comique. Rhodes had a fondness for operetta and on the 150th birthday

"Dis-moi, Vénus" La Belle Hélène
celebration of Jacques Offenbach in 1969 she sang La Périchole at the Théâtre de Paris with conductor Jean-Claude Casadesus. She went on to perform many of the composer's works throughout the 1970s, including La Belle Hélène, La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein and La Vie Parisienne, many of which were recorded for EMI with conductor Michel Plasson and singers like Régine Crespin, Mady Mesplé and Alain Vanzo. During the end of that decade she began to focus on the song repertoire of Duparc, Debussy, Fauré, Brahms and Mahler, with collaborator Christian Ivaldi. Because of her great beauty, she earned the nickname "Bardot of the Opera." With a career that lasted over 40 years, the singer had a voice range that span from powerful dramatic soprano to higher mezzo-soprano. Often describe as having a voice of burnished bronze, she was able to sing a vast repertoire including Le Roi d'Ys (Lalo), La Vérité de Jeanne (André Jolivet), Aida (Verdi), Hippolyte et Aricie (Rameau), Le Serment (Tansman), Don Carlos (Verdi), Pique Dame (Tchaikovsky) and La Mort à Bâle (Conrad Beck). After retiring from opera in 1980, she spent the next 10 years giving concerts
and recital. When she stopped performing, she remained passionate about devoting herself to the teaching of her art to future generations. She was decorated with the "Chevalier de l'Ordre National du Mérite" and "Commandeur des Arts et Lettres." After being hospitalized for two weeks, the singer died at the American Hospital in Neuilly-sur-Seine from neurological disorders on May 7, 2011. She was 82.

A complete discography of Jane Rhodes is after the jump.

L'Ange de feu de Serge Prokofiev (rôle de Renata), avec Xavier Depraz, Irma Kolassi, Jean Giraudeau, Charles Bruck (dir.) - Universal Classics/ Accord 472 723-2, 1957.

Carmen de Georges Bizet (extraits), avec Albert Lance, Robert Massard, Andréa Guiot, orchestre et chœurs de l'Opéra de Paris, Roberto Benzi (dir.) - Philips Classics 446 118-2.

Tosca de Giacomo Puccini (rôle-titre), avec Albert Lance, Gabriel Bacquier, orchestre et chœurs de l'Opéra de Paris, Manuel Rosenthal (dir.) - Véga/Adès, 1960.

Les Adieux de Marcel Landowski (rôle d'Isabelle), avec Claude Nollier (récitante), Fernand Koenig, orchestre et chœurs de Radio-Luxembourg, Louis de Froment (dir.), mise en scène sonore de Marcel Lamy - Orphée/Pacific

La Belle Hélène de Jacques Offenbach (extraits), avec Bernard Plantey, Jean Giraudeau, Michel Hamel, Manuel Rosenthal (dir.) - Philips Classics 442 237-2).

Ave Maria de Gounod, Schubert, Haendel, Alleluia de Mozart, avec Christiane de Lisle à l'orgue - 45t Véga.

L'Art du chant, vol. 1, extraits de Tosca, L'Ange de feu, Ave Maria de Gounod, Schubert, Haendel, Alleluia de Mozart. Orchestres et chefs divers - 33t Véga.

La Juive de Jacques-Fromental Halévy (rôle de Rachel), avec Tony Poncet, Denise Monteil, Gérard Serkoyan, orchestre de l'Opéra de Karlsruhe, Marcel Couraud (dir.) - 33t Philips - Première sélection mondiale

Mignon de Ambroise Thomas (rôle-titre), avec Andrée Esposito, Alain Vanzo, Michel Roux, orchestre du Théâtre national de l'Opéra-Comique, Jean-Claude Hartemann (dir.) - Coffret de 10 CD Les Années Pathé - 10 opéras français, EMI Classics.

La Voix humaine de Francis Poulenc, Jean-Pierre Marty (dir.) - Enregistrement en public réalisé à Paris le 25 octobre 1976 au studio 104 de Radio France- INA Mémoire.
Récital Offenbach, concert public donné au Concertgebouw d'Amsterdam en 1969, Roberto Benzi (dir.) - Gala.

Airs d'opéras français de Gluck, Berlioz, Halévy, Massenet, Bizet et Offenbach - Philips Classics 446 119-2.

Le Roi d'Ys de Edouard Lalo (rôle de Margared), avec Andréa Guiot, Alain Vanzo, Robert Massard, Jules Bastin, orchestre et chœurs de la Radio-Lyrique, Pierre Dervaux (dir.) - Gala, 1973

La Belle Hélène de Jacques Offenbach (rôle-titre), avec Rémy Corazza, Jacques Martin, Jules Bastin, Michel Trempont, Renée Auphan, orchestre philharmonique de Strasbourg et chœurs de l'Opéra du Rhin, Alain Lombard (dir.) - Musidisc-Accord 461 954-2, 1978.

Orphée aux enfers de Jacques Offenbach (rôle de l'Opinion publique), avec Mady Mesplé, Jane Berbié, Michel Sénéchal, Charles Burles, Michel Trempont, orchestre et chœurs du Capitole de Toulouse, Michel Plasson (dir.) - EMI Classics.

Mireille de Charles Gounod (rôle de Taven), avec Mirella Freni, Alain Vanzo, Gabriel Bacquier, José Van Dam, orchestre et chœurs du Capitole de Toulouse, Michel Plasson (dir.) - EMI Classics, 1979.

Mélodies de Duparc, intégrale des mélodies de Henri Duparc avec Christian Ivaldi - EMI Classics, 1979.

Airs d'opérette de Jacques Offenbach, orchestre Bordeaux-Aquitaine et ensemble vocal d'Aquitaine, Roberto Benzi (dir.) - EMI Classics, 1979.

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