Episode 221. Robert Massard

Episode 221. Robert Massard



This is an episode I have been planning for years now! This past August 15, the great French baritone Robert Massard turned 98 years old. As many of my listeners know, I have a thing for baritones in general, and I have devoted episodes to artists of the baritone persuasion from world-renowned to virtually unknown to somewhere in-between. Just think of it: Gérard Souzay, Jorma Hynninen, Eugene Holmes, Andrzej Hiolski, Gabriel Bacquier, Will Parker, Gilbert Price: these and many more have already been featured with more (Hugo Hasslo, Eric Sædén) on the horizon for next season. But I would be hard-pressed to think of a baritone who possessed a more beautiful natural voice, a more refined technique, or a more elegant artistry than did Robert Massard, who in his thirty-odd years of career chalked up approximately 2,500 performances, including 1,003 at the Paris Opéra alone (the same number, he himself points out, as Don Giovanni’s conquests)! Massard also sang an incredibly varied (though primarily operatic) repertoire, and this episode presents highlights from both the standard to the more obscure repertoire, from Gluck, Gounod, Verdi, and Massenet; to Reyer, Milhaud, Lalo, and Diaz (who?). These recordings are supplemented by a number of excerpts from French operetta (Planquette, Varney, Messager, and Beydts) which provide unalloyed melodic delight, the Massard voice heard at its absolute peak. And the colleagues who appear opposite Massard are like a Who’s Who of great opera singers (French and otherwise) of the era: Régine Crespin, Mady Mesplé, Denise Duval, Shirley Verrett (subject of next week’s episode!), Andréa Guiot, Jean Giraudeau, André Turp, Marilyn Horne, Renée Doria, Jane Rhodes, Andrée Esposito, Rita Gorr, and the falcon Suzanne Sarroca, who died last month at the age of 96. And if you listen very closely, you will also catch fleeting glimpses of favorites Patricia Neway and George Shirley. I know I say this too often, but if you only listen to one episode of Countermelody, make it this one!


Robert Massard in the title role of Henri Rabaud’s Marouf

Jules Massenet, Paul Milliet, Henri Grémont [after Gustave Flaubert]: Salomé, demande au prisonnier (Hérodiade). Robert Massard, Orchestra conducted by Jésus Etcheverry [1961]

Jésus Etcheverry

Georges Bizet, Henri Meilhac, Ludovic Halévy [after Prosper Mérimée]: Si tu m’aimes, Carmen (Carmen). Robert Massard, Shirley Verrett, Georges Prêtre, Orchestra Sinfonica e Coro di Roma della RAI [live 14.XII.1967]

Robert Massard and Viorica Cortez in Carmen, Covent Garden 1968
Renée Doria as Mireille

Charles Gounod, Michel Carré [after Frédéric Mistral]: Ourrias!… Si les filles d’Arles (Mireille). Robert Massard, Renée Doria, Jésus Etcheverry, Orchestre Symphonique de Paris [1962]

Christoph Willibald Gluck, Nicolas-François Guillard: Dieux! le malheur en tous lieux (Iphigénie en Tauride). Robert Massard, Patricia Neway, Carlo Maria Giulini, Orchestre de la Société des Concert du Conservatoire Paris [live Aix-en-Provence summer 1952]

André Messager, Albert Willemetz: Puisqu’elle ne peut elle même (Passionnément). Robert Massard, unidentified soprano, orchestra conducted by Robert Benedetti [1955]

Gaetano Donizetti, adapted J.L. Caussou, J.Y. Lamare [after Walter Scott, A. Royer, G. Vaëz]: Si tu oses me trahir (Lucie de Lammermoor). Robert Massard, Mady Mesplé, Orchestra conducted by Georges Sébastian [1960]

Giuseppe Verdi, Antonio Somma [after Eugène Scribe]: Alla vita che t’arride (Un ballo in maschera). Robert Massard, Reynald Giovaninetti, Orchestre Lyrique et Phiharmonique de l’ORTF [1961]

Reynald Giovaninetti (1932 – 2021)
(27.IV.1927 – 15.IX.2023)

Pietro Mascagni, Giovanni Targioni-Tozzetti, Guido Menasci [after Giovanni Verga; French version by Paul Milliet]: Santuzza, dès lors, je vous rends grâce… Avec leur perfidie [Comare Santa, allor grato vi sono… Ad essi non perdono] (Cavalleria rusticana). Robert Massard, Suzanne Sarroca, Orchestra conducted by Reynald Giovaninetti [1965]

Robert Planquette

Robert Planquette, Henri Meilhac, Philippe Gille, Henry Brougham Farnie: Ô jeunesse (Rip). Robert Massard, Orchestra conducted by Armand Bernard [1959]

Louis Varney

Louis Varney, Paul Ferrier, Jules Prével: De la chère qu’on m’a donnée… Ah! Quel déjeuner j’ai fait (Les Mousquetaires au couvent). Robert Massard, Orchestra conducted by Jean Laforge [1960]

Christoph Willibald Gluck, Nicolas-François Guillard: Pylade… Ah, mon ami, j’implore ta pitié… Malgré toi, je saurai t’arracher au trépas… Quoi? Toujours à mes voeux (Iphigénie en Tauride). Robert Massard, André Turp, Rita Gorr, Georg Solti, Orchestra of the Royal Opera House Covent Garden [live Edinburgh 23.VIII.1961]

André Turp

Hector Berlioz [after Virgil]: Signes trompeurs!… Quitte-nous dès ce soir/Te quitter dès ce soir (Les Troyens). Robert Massard, Marilyn Horne, Georges Prêtre, Orchestra Sinfonica di Roma della RAI [live Rome 30.V.69]

Georges Prêtre
Denise Duval

Maurice Ravel, Franc-Nohain [né Maurice Étienne Legrand]: Señor Torquemada, horloger de Tolède?… Il reste, voilà bien ma chance (L’heure espagnole). Robert Massard, Denise Duval, Nino Falzetti, George Shirley, Georges Sébastian, Orchestra of the Teatro Colón [live Buenos Aires 17.VI.1964]

Robert Massard as Ramiro in L’heure espagnole
Régine Crespin as Pénélope

Gabriel Fauré, René Fauchois: J’ai tant d’amour à lui donner encore… Ton espoir est stupide (Pénélope). Robert Massard, Régine Crespin, Michel Hamel, Joseph Peyron, Désiré-Émile Inghelbrecht, Orchestre National de la RTF [Paris 25.V.1956]

Darius and Madeleine Milhaud

Darius Milhaud, Paul Claudel: Où sommes-nous? (Christophe Colomb). Robert Massard, Jean Giraudeau, Manuel Rosenthal, Orchestre Radio Lyrique [live Paris 31.V.1955]

Manuel Rosenthal
Andréa Guiot

Ernest Reyer, Camille du Locle, Alfred Blau [after the Nibelungenlied]: Je suis Gunther, Roi des Burgondes (Sigurd). Robert Massard, Andréa Guiot, Manuel Rosenthal, Orchestre Philharmonique de l’ORTF.  [Paris 26.VII.73]

Ernest Reyer
Jane Rhodes

Édouard Lalo, Édouard Blau: Voici l’heure! Viens!… Allons, pas de lâches faiblesses (Le Roi d’Ys). Robert Massard, Jane Rhodes, Pierre Dervaux, Orchestre et Choeurs Radio-Lyrique [Paris 10.IX.73]

Eugène Diaz (1837 – 1901) [Editor’s Note: Hubba Hubba!]

Eugène Diaz, Gaston Hirsch: De l’art, splendeur immortelle (Benvenuto Cellini). Robert Massard, Orchestra conducted by Jésus Etcheverry [1961]

Andrée Esposito as Thaïs

Jules Massenet, Louis Gallet [after Anatole France]: Ma chair saigne… Baigne d’eau tes mains et test lèvres (Thaïs). Robert Massard, Andrée Esposito, Albert Wolff, Orchestre Radio-Lyrique [Paris 27.VIII.59]

Louis Beydts, Léopold Marchand: Dans mes bras, rêve d’espérance [Berceuse] (À l’aimable Sabine). Robert Massard, Orchestra conducted by Jean Laforge [1960]

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