Forgotten Opera Singers
Oct 22, 2018
Germaine Cernay (Mezzo-Soprano) (28 April 1900, Le Havre - 19 September 1943, Paris)
Her real name was Germaine Pointu. At first, she wanted to become a pianist, but then she studied voice at the National Conservatory in Paris with the teachers Albers und Engel. She made her debut in 1925 at the Paris Grand Opéra as Euryclée in ‘’Pénélope’’ by Gabriel Fauré. In 1927 she came to the Opéra-Comique in Paris, where she first sang smaller roles, then roles like Charlotte in ‘’Werther’’, Carmen, Mignon, and Geneviève in ‘’Pelléas et Mélisande’’. In 1930 at that house she took part in the world premiere of the opera ‘’Le Sicilien’’ by Omer Letorey. She had important successes at the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels and on French provincial stages. She gave guest performances in North Africa, in Switzerland, in England, Ireland and Italy, where she appeared in the 1939 Florence May Festival as Florenz in Ravel's ‘’L'Enfant et les sortilèges’’. In a broadcast of French Radio she even undertook the soprano role in ‘’Pelléas et Mélisande’’. She was regarded as one of the leading French concert altos of her generation, above all as a great Bach interpreter. She was on the point of entering a convent when she suddenly died. In addition to her exquisitely cultured (above all in the high register) voice, her ingenious art of delivery as well as her mastery of phrasing were treasured. She represented a voice type which the French designate 'Galli-Marié' (after the great prima donna, Célestine Galli-Marié).