If anyone remembers Lalo’s opera today beyond its unique name, it’s for the aria “Vainement, ma bien-aimée” which has been embraced by tenors from Gigli (the Met’s only Mylio to date) to di Stefano to Bergonzi and Kraus. Most recently the Aubade has shown up at concerts by Juan Diego Florez and Javier Camarena.
Another teno—-Roberto Alagna—resurrected Lalo’s final opera Fiesque in Montpellier in 2006.The following year Toulouse presented a rare staging of Roi d’Ys starring Charles Castronovo and Sophie Koch as Margared, the sister whose jealousy propels the plot. The fiery role was written for Lalo’s contralto wife Julie de Maligny who did not, however, perform it at the opera’s 1888 premiere.
Despite its being a low-lying part, Rosa Ponselle took on Margared in the Met’s 1922 run of Roi d’Ys opposite Gigli and Frances Alda as Rozenn. Those six performances were it for the Lalo at the Met. Opera Orchestra of New York however did revive the work in 1985 with Barbara Hendricks, Cleopatra Ciurca and Tibère Raffalli.
Today’s cast features several who rarely performed in the US. Guiot, who died last year of COVID at age 93, might be best remembered for her Micaëla on the Callas recording of Carmen. She sang Marguerite in Faust at Lyric Opera of Chicago (opposite the Valentin of Massard) in 1963. The only instance I can track down of her performing in New York City was with the American Opera Society as Mme Lidoine in Dialogues des Carmélites opposite Denise Duval in 1965.
In 1960, the glamorous Rhodes made one of those odd one-off Met debuts as Carmen, one of her signature roles. She returned the following season for a longer stay: four outings as Salome, though the Strauss broadcast during her month-long engagement went instead to Brenda Lewis. And that was it.
As a kid I remember seeing often seeing at the library the name “Jane Rhodes” on a Westminster LP of The Fiery Angel in French, the language of its 1954 concert premiere. I never checked the Prokofievout though.
Rhodes’s Met combination of Carmen and Salome inevitably brought to mind Maria Ewing who died earlier this week and was also well known (for better or worse) for both roles. Trove Thursday will remember Ewing in an upcoming installment.
Lalo: Le Roi d’Ys
Salle Pleyel, Paris
10 September 1973
Rozenn: Andrea Guiot
Margared: Jane Rhodes
Mylio: Alain Vanzo
Le Prince Karnac Robert Massard
Le Roi d’Ys: Jules Bastin
Saint-Correntin: Pierre Thau
Chœur & Orchestre Radio-Lyrique de l’ORTF
Conductor: Pierre Dervaux
Roi d’Ys can be downloaded by clicking on the icon of a square with an arrow pointing downward on the audio player above and the resulting mp3 files will appear in your download directory.
Massard (still with us at 96!) can be heard in his only (?) NYC appearance on a previous Trove Thursday post of Massenet’s Hérodiade with Régine Crespin, Rita Gorr (a notable Margared in Lalo’s opera) and Guy Chauvet.
Guiot appears as Lidioine in a Buenos Aires Dialogues, again opposite Duval,
Vanzo (a favorite, needless to say) can be heard on numerous past Trove Thursdays as Nadir in Les Pêcheurs de Perles, in the title role in Don Carlos, , in Bizet’s Don Procopio (along with Massard, Bastin amd Mady Mesplé),as Des Grieux to Beverly Sills’s Manon, and in Werther opposite Tatiana Troyanos.
The archive which lists all Trove Thursday offerings in alphabetical order by composer was up-to-dated recently.
Photo: Jane Rhodes