Forgotten Opera Singers

Forgotten Opera Singers

Mar 8, 2015

Jean Emile Vanni-Marcoux (Bass/Baritone) (Turin 1877 – Paris 1962)

He made his operatic debut in 1894, at the age of 17, as Sparafucile in Verdi's Rigoletto, in Turin. After further studies in Paris with Frédéric Boyer, he made his first stage appearance in France, at Bayonne, as Frère Laurent in Gounod's Roméo et Juliette, in 1899. Thereafter he toured a number of provincial theatres, which led to his debut at the Royal Opera House in London, as Basilio in Rossini's The Barber of Seville, in 1905, and at La Monnaie in Brussels, as Bertram in Meyerbeer's Robert le diable, in 1906. Vanni Marcoux made his Paris Opéra debut in 1908 as Méphisto in Gounod's Faust, and at La Scala in 1910, as the Old Hebrew in Saint-Saëns' Samson and Delilah. The same year, 1910, he sang for the first time Massenet's Don Quichotte at the "Gaieté Lyrique"" in Paris, a part that would soon become his signature role. For nearly 40 years, Vanni Marcoux was a familiar and much admired figure in Parisian musical life, mainly at the Opéra and the Opéra-Comique, where he created a number of roles in contemporary operas such as Raoul Gunsbourg's Lysistrata, Max d'Ollone's L'Arlequin, Henry Février's Monna Vanna and La Femme nue, Massenet's Panurge, and Honegger's and Ibert's L'Aiglon. Word of his many successes crossed the Atlantic, and he was invited to join the Boston Opera Company, where he made his debut in 1912 as Golaud in Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande. This was followed by his debut at the Chicago Grand Opera Company in 1913, as the four villains in Offenbach's The Tales of Hoffmann, which is considered one of his greatest histrionic achievements. His success in America was partly due to the soprano Mary Garden, who had popularized French opera in Chicago, thus laying the groundwork for his visit. In October 1914, in the early stages of World War I, it was erroneously reported in the press that he had been killed on active service as a member of the French Army. In 1919, Vanni Marcoux appeared at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, the most important opera house in South America. Among his more notable interpretations were Philippe II in Don Carlos, Rafaele in The Jewels of the Madonna, Iago in Otello, and the title character in Gianni Schicchi. Vanni Marcoux began teaching at the Paris Conservatory in 1938. He retired from the stage in 1948 and became director of the Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux. He held that post from 1948 to 1951. Vanni Marcoux's career was impressive for its longevity and the remarkably wide variety of operatic roles which it embraced. He possessed a clear, although not especially large voice, with a characteristic vibrato and a weight and timbre of almost tenor quality (see Scott, Record of Singing 1979). His French diction was praised for its clarity, and he was also acclaimed by music critics for the quality of his musicianship and his outstanding dramatic intelligence.

Chronology of some appearances

1894 Turin Opera
1905 London Royal Opera 
1906 Brussels La Monnaie
1908 Paris Opéra 
1910 Milan La Scala 
1912 Boston Opera


HMV, Paris 1924-10-06
Monna Vanna (Février): Ce n'est pas un vieillard DB809 2-032087

HMV, Paris 1927-10-06
Pelléas et Mélisande (Debussy): Ah! tout va bien DA902 7-32120
Pelléas et Mélisande (Debussy): Une grande innocence DA902 7-32119
Don Quichotte (Massenet): Quand apparaissent les étoiles DA934 7-32127

HMV, Paris 1927-10-07
Boris Godounov (Moussorgsky): Scène du carillon DB1112 2-032125
Boris Godounov (Moussorgsky): J'ai le pouvoir suprême DB1112 2-032124

HMV, Paris 1927-10-12
Don Giovanni (Mozart): Deh, vieni alla finestra DA937 7-32133
Bohème (Puccini): Vecchia zimarra DA937 7-32132

HMV, Paris 1927-10-13
Don Quichotte (Massenet): Je suis le chevalier errant DA936 7-32130

HMV, Paris 1930-05-28
Panurge (Massenet): Chanson de la Touraine DA1124 30-4056

HMV, Paris 1930-09-23
Jongleur de Notre-Dame (Massenet): La vierge entend fort bien DA1159 30-5074
Jongleur de Notre-Dame (Massenet): Fleurissait une sauge DA1159 30-5075
Damnation de Faust (Berlioz): Devant la maison DA1158 30-5072
Damnation de Faust (Berlioz): Chanson de la puce DA1158 30-5073

HMV, Paris 1931-06-26
Le secret (Fauré) DA4814 50-1952

HMV, Paris 1931-10-05
La Habanera (Laparra): Et c'est à moi que l'on dit: ”Chante” DA4818 50-2133
La Habanera (Laparra): Le sort m'a désigné (w. NN (soprano)) DA4818 50-2134
Hamlet (Thomas): J'ai pu frapper... Être ou ne pas être DB4822 52-974
Cléopâtre (Massenet): A-t-il dit vrai?...Solitaire sur ma terrasse DB4822 52-975

HMV, Paris 1931-10-07
Don Giovanni (Mozart): Madamina DA4811 50-1945

HMV, Paris 1934-06-08
Boris Godounov (Moussorgsky): Mon coeur est triste DB4950 52-1331
Don Quichotte (Massenet): Prends cette île (Le mort, pt 2)  DA4857 50-3732
Don Quichotte (Massenet): Écoute, mon ami (Le mort, pt 1) with Riquier and Cozette DA4857 50-3731

HMV, Paris 1934-11-07
Ma Lola (Film: Sans Famille) (Yvain) K7372

HMV, Paris 1934-11-12
Louise (Charpentier): Reste, repose-toi (Berceuse) DB4950 2LA141

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