Forgotten Opera Singers
May 16, 2020
Paul Cabanel (Baritone) (29 June 1891, Orán - 05 November 1958, Paris)
First he studied law in Toulouse, but in 1911 he began training his voice at the Conservatory there. He continued this training at the National Conservatory in Paris, but he was drafted as a soldier upon the outbreak of World War I and was wounded at Verdun. He wasn't able to resume his studies until 1919. He made his debut at the Cairo Opera in J. Massenet's ‘’Hérodiade’’, where he also sang in ‘’Manon’’ and ‘’Thaïs’’ as well as in C. Gounod's ‘’Faust’’. Until 1932 he appeared at the French provincial houses, in Belgium and in Switzerland; for seven years he sang every winter at the Bordeaux Opera and in summer at the Vichy Theatre. Finally in 1932 he was able to make his debut as Scarpia in ‘’Tosca’’ at the Opéra-Comique in Paris, and in the following year at the Grand Opéra in ‘’La damnation de Faust’’ by H. Berlioz. After that he had great success at the Grand Opéra as well as at the Opéra-Comique in Paris. His signature roles included Mephisto in ‘’La damnation de Faust’’, Leporello in ‘’Don Giovanni’’, the High Priest in ‘’Samson et Dalila’’ and Arkel in ‘’Pelléas et Mélisande’’. He is said to have sung the role of Mephistopheles in C. Gounod's ‘’Faust’’ more than a thousand times. Guest appearances led him to the Teatro Colón Buenos Aires (1939) and to the opera of Rio de Janeiro, to the Teatro Liceo Barcelona, to Amsterdam and above all at the Brussels Opera (Théâtre de la Monnaie). Here he sang Boris Godunov as late as 1954. In 1952 he took part in a concert performance of ‘’La damnation de Faust’’ at the Holland Festival. He also worked as an opera director. From 1942 to 1958 he held the rank of professor at the National Conservatory in Paris.